My 30th high school reunion takes place on Saturday. I’m not going.
It’s not that I don’t want to go, necessarily. It’s just that I didn’t really pay attention so I didn’t really know when it was. This was one of those events that in our era of Facebook was planned in public, with fits and starts and roundabouts and changes that led back to an event that I didn’t realize was taking place in four days or that required me to send money in advance to someone.
It’s not the fault of the planners; I’m just that disorganized.
Over the last few months, I’ve skimmed the conversations on the reunion FB page, watched as photos were posted of “the good old days”, and read as my fellow alum reminisce about high school.
Blech. High school.
I was a dork in high school. I was a dork before high school, but it really only mattered in high school. I stood on the fringe of everything – self-conscious, anxiety-ridden, homely, boring and probably very annoying in my pathetic attempts to fit in. Sue Heck has nothing on me in high school. (And if you got that reference, you understand this entire post.)
At least that’s how I remember myself. For me, high school was like four years spent daily pulling a scab off of a horribly painful wound that only seemed to heal decades later. I wanted to fit in. Desperately wanted to fit in. But the reality was that I was never, ever, ever going to fit in because high school was not the place where people like me find themselves at home.
For people like me – and I am not alone, I know – high school was a bad dream that occasionally rears up to haunt my waking moments. But it was a very small, very tiny part of my life. I grew up. I moved on. I got a life.
Not that the anxiety-ridden, self-conscious dork isn’t still with me; I’ve always joked that there’s a reason I have two names. I have two people inside me. The confident, talented, self-assured one who runs the show 75% of the time. Then there’s the other one; she pops up a few times a year, just to remind me that she’s lurking there in my head.
I’m still a dork. I’ve just embraced my dorkiness.
There’s definitely a part of me that regrets not planning to attend the reunion. I’d like to see where my classmates are now, what they’re doing, even if I only knew them as names and faces I passed in the hallway. I know some are successful, some are struggling, all are just normal people with normal lives, and all of these years later the cliques and groups that segregated us in high school are gone. We’re all on equal footing. I saw that at our 20 year reunion. I know it’ll be the same this time.
At the same time, if I’m going to spend money and time socializing – which, as you know, is a rarity for this little recluse – I’d rather do it with people I know and enjoy spending time with. People with whom I have actual relationships that actually affect my real life.
I’m going to McGraw’s Thursday night to meet old friends from an old church to have a beer and see some Irish bluegrass music. I’m meeting this week with a pastor friend from my days covering Christian music, because I need some guidance on writing (and life). I’m working with a dog training friend on some ideas to reach out to inner city kids using dogs. A reunion is in the works for the group of us who grew up together in our neighborhood.
This is the world I live in. This is the me I am. No one from high school knew me then; I doubt very much it matters if they know me now. And I’m OK with that.
I know that the reunion will be fun, and that it might even be nice to see some of the people I didn’t know well (or at all) in high school, just because I find people and their stories interesting. Hence my career choice. In fact, part of me wanted to attend simply because I thought it would be fabulous to write about. Had I paid attention to the actual details earlier, I would have gone for that reason alone.
But what would I have done? The whole “show up at a bar by yourself and hope you see someone you know” thing isn’t my idea of a good time.
Anyway, have a blast on Saturday, Gates Chili Class of 1982. Bandit and I will raise a glass of wine (or in his case, a water bowl) in your honor.