Looking at yourself, 20 years later

This September, I’m attending my 20-year high school reunion. The invitation got me thinking about Facebook’s influence on reunions, and about a video I made twenty years ago.

Two friends and I shot footage throughout our graduating year, from the opening night sleepover through our convocation. We edited hours and hours of videotape into a 100-minute video and sold it to our classmates for $20 a piece. We spent long sessions at the school board offices, using their cutting-edge dual-VCR editing setup. The editing took forever. It was, after all, 1991.

In anticipation of the reunion, I dug out a VHS copy of the grad video and got it digitized. Then, after checking with my high school classmates, I started posting sections of the video to the private Facebook group for the reunion.

Spasms of Memories

Unlike many of my online peers, I quite enjoyed high school. I was bullied no more than the average amount. While I was always pretty nerdy, I had plenty of friends and a lot of the school’s cliquishness disappeared by grades 11 and 12.

Perhaps because I enjoyed high school, I rarely have thought about it over the ensuing twenty years. I remain in touch with only a couple of people from that period, and so have little reason to reminisce.

When you edit video, even in the casual, summary way I’ve tweaked these sections, you spend a lot of time in the womb of the headphones, staring at grainy frozen frames. And so I’ve had the odd experience of thinking about people I haven’t though about in 20 years, of trying to remember their names and wondering who they have become. Each name conjures a little spasm of memories

It’s peculiar to revisit your work twenty years later. I’m hesitant to call it art, but it’s definitely an aesthetic creation. Ironically, I’m not really a better video editor today than I was in 1991–I haven’t acquired much experience in the ensuing 20 years. Still, for three high school students wielding bulky cameras and editing on dodgy VCRS, we could have done worse.

What did teenagers care about in 1991? Girls. Boys. Cars. Teachers. Music. The usual things.

17-Year-Old Me

I improvised a clumsy opening to the video before our grad ceremony got underway. Likewise, we shot a short ‘signing off’ segment that appears at the video end. I thought it might interest readers to see a 17-year-old me. Isn’t my hair…full? And, man, I’m optimistic.


  1. “It is a big world out there. Let’s not screw it up.”

    A timeless message. Thanks for that.

    I missed by ten year reunion, since I was traveling overseas, but you’re right about the whole Facebook thing and how it really changes the concept of a reunion. There’s not nearly as much “catching up” to do.

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