So, unless you’ve been out of the country doing something fun, you’re already well-aware that my 30th High School Reunion was this weekend. If you were out of the country, why exactly was it that you didn’t take me?
Hmmmmm? (cue side-eye, and irritating eyebrow raise)
Yeah, 30 years. Wow. Hard to believe. When I graduated from High School Ronald Reagan was only 2 years into his first term, and presumably still in control of most of his faculties. Or so we think. And we all were wearing “a younger man’s (and woman’s) clothes.”
Some of us, BTW, still are, and they need to stop that shit… just sayin’.
But anyway, 30 years since I collected that diploma and since I had avoided both of the previous Reunions I hadn’t seen most of those people since… well… since June 6, 1982, my last compulsory day of attendance at Lakeland Senior High. And to be clear, that was by choice. Because I hated high school. Hated everything about it. Hated feeling awkward, ill-fitting, not a part of anything, nervous, scared, unliked… oh, did I mention awkward? Yeah that, twice, with feeling.
Yes, I really felt all that, all of the time, and I hated it. High school was where I really learned to hate cliques and social strata, because I wanted to belong so badly… but I didn’t. No way, no how.
I just didn’t.
So the angst in the roll-up to this event was unbelievable. I wouldn’t commit to buying the tickets until less than a month ago. Then after I bought them, instant regret set in. I know, WTH? But yeah, I started freaking out. Big time. All over the place. Because I’m “fluffy” today, not 100 lbs dripping wet any more. Because I’m still just as awkward at times as I was back then. Because I still don’t “belong”. Because, because, because… lather, rinse, repeat. So I freaked. Filling my Facebook feed with non-stop angst and drama over all things Reunion – little and big. Despite the fact that this event was being filed under “not that important in the grand scheme of things” for most of my classmates. For me? It was big. Nervewrackingly, annoyingly, ridiculously big.
Because I’m an idiot like that, catastrophisizing the heck out of everything. And yes, according to Bob that is a real word… his Therapist used it one time… apparently we trust PhD’s to know the Englishes better than us. Who knew? But yeah, to be blunt, I freaked. Right up until the night of the first event, still flapping and carrying on, paralyzed by fear and unable to leave the house. Yeah, really, so scared I could not get out the door. Because inside of me is still that girl who just really wants to be liked, but who doesn’t truly believe anybody will or does. Sad, right? Ridiculous, no? I mean, I am so well and truly blessed with some of the best friends a woman could hope for, and the best family in the world, and still I think people won’t like me. Maybe I’ve just found the 6 to 10 (hundred) who like weird and off-beat?
Yep, that’s it.
But I did finally leave the house, did finally get to the Football Game, did finally get to the first Reunion event, and… I had fun. Wow. How anticlimactic is that? We went to the game, then the after-party, and I didn’t get home until 1:15am. Really. That much fun. Who knew? And the next night was more of the same… more fun… with people I never connected with in the past, but I enjoyed talking and laughing with in the now. People just like me, who’ve changed and grown, and lived lives just like mine. People who have made it to the other side of adulthood with me… scarred and a little worse-for-wear, traumas big and large survived, lives lived well and badly… the Class of ’82.
The events were fun, but better was the dropping of barriers, the feeling that I could talk to anybody there, and connect with anyone. And learning that all of us had traumas and self-doubt back then, and some of us have had a really hard life since then, and none of us was immune to life handing us more than we can handle, and handling it the best we could. Yeah, sure, some of us were still trapped in the glory days, stuck in the past, a little too full of ourselves perhaps. But those were the ones I felt sort of sorry for… because after all, if the best years of your life were in high school then you’ve really had a crappy life since then and you should be pitied.
But I had fun. Despite my dire predictions to the contrary. Right up until Sunday afternoon, when I went up and joined the last group of “Diehards” and had one last drink. A toast to our collective pasts for me. We were all in it together, way back when, and all of us survived to celebrate 30 years later. That means something. Something far more important than any shallow bullshit like who was cool and who was not. Who belonged and who didn’t. We are all the Class of ’82 – we all belonged back then and we still do today.
So, if you get the chance, put aside the angst and go to your Reunion. You might not learn anything new about those people you knew way back when, and you might not make any friends that you didn’t already have, but you might learn something about yourself. And you just might have fun.