Friday, September 14, 2012

The high school reunion...that I didn't go to

I had the plane tickets purchased, a hotel room reserved. I was actually looking forward to going to my thirty year high school reunion. It popped up on my radar months ago and I was determined to go this time.  In the end, work got in the way and I had to cancel all my plans.

That didn’t stop me from thinking about it, though.  High School, friends, what we wanted and where we ended up. I went to our first reunion – the 10 year reunion – and reveled in the sense of justice that some of the cheerleaders had gained a lot of weight. This time around, I felt a simple happiness to see so many old friends alive and well enough to tell the tale.  Hairlines have receded, waists are perhaps a bit thicker but the smiles look the same.  I got back in touch with my high school best friend and her sense of humor is as sharp as ever. She still makes me laugh.
Maybe it’s because I have a child still in the throes of her own high school experience, but I think back to all the ways I related to the world thirty years ago and I have to say – I’m glad to be where I am right now. Someone posted a picture from our senior year of the ‘senior table’ and while other people reminisced about good times, I felt a shudder of remembered unease.  That table epitomized the cliques that were present – the tribes that people belonged to. I rarely felt that I belonged anywhere and that had nothing to do with high school but what I had grown up with. No one in high school knew the truth about my childhood – hell, I didn’t have the language yet to even talk about it - but I can look back and see how those dynamics impacted my ability to figure out my place in the world. 

I bet that pretty much sums up most people’s experiences with high school.
Now I look back with a deep sense of compassion for all of us – all that we each were struggling and grappling with – as we confronted the task of growing up. I can see the children that we were while making rather adult choices around work, sex, drugs, alcohol, and our futures. We were living our own version of ‘YOLO’  - you only live once – and look at us: we survived.

Which is why I watched this reunion come and go...
with a smile.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry you couldn't go, but I'm glad to hear that you reconnected with some old friends in the process of planning to go. I have never been to a reunion, usually using the excuse that it is too far. I think I really haven't ever shown up because there is no one there that I'm still in contact with. I don't have good memories of high school-- I suspect that many people look back on it with a sense of relief that they made it through to the other side.