My 20 year high school reunion is coming up. I don’t know if I’m going to go.
Part of me is always curious about such gatherings; I think it’s interesting to see where other peoples’ lives have taken them, and how people have changed since the last time I saw them. I also really like being surprised by seeing people I didn’t expect to be there, and to catch up on what they’ve been up to lo these many years. I enjoy watching television and movie renditions of reunions, where the main character tells us about the class pretty boy who’s now overweight and bald, or about the kid who always got picked on in the hallway turning out to be a multi-millionaire business owner. Seeing how expectations can be thwarted is sometimes fun – we almost never turn out the way we thought we would, and neither does anyone else. The other fun thing about reunions is trying to put names to faces. Some of them are easy – I distinctly remember recognizing the boy who sat behind me in homeroom when I saw him ten years ago – but the rest of the faces were harder to recall.
The other, bigger part of me has absolutely no interest whatsoever in going to this thing. I went to the ten year reunion and, while that DID give an old friend back to me, it was quite a bit less of an experience than I thought it would be. I already maintain quite a few relationships from high school and, though most of those relationships are casual and occasional, they are really the only ones I feel compelled to keep. High school was a profoundly difficult time for me – I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I was lucky to have gotten out of it alive – and I’m just as happy to not relive those memories. I wasn’t part of a team or group; I didn’t work on plays and I wasn’t on the field hockey team. I didn’t edit the yearbook and I wasn’t part of the marching band. I worked full time from my sophomore year. I don’t have a whole lot of positive reminiscing to do.
It always seems to me that these things are just occasions for one-upsmanship: this person got her doctorate and is a fellow at a prestigious university, this person is the senior vice president in charge of finance at a big firm, this person owns an international business. I live twenty minutes away from my old high school, I’ve spent the last ten or so years being a full time mom, and I teach part time at a kind of crappy community college. I love my life, though, and I don’t like feeling as though I don’t measure up to someone else’s arbitrary standards. Finally, I’m always a little miffed about the people who still, after twenty years, do not deign to speak to me because I wasn’t part of their clique (or worse, the ones who come up to me behaving as though I were some long-lost bosom buddy. This happened ten years ago, but the perpetrator was stinking drunk and essentially revealed that he’d always had a huge crush on me). Yeah. I can do without that.
In the end, I don’t know whether I’ll go to the 20 year reunion. I suspect I may go, just because Kizz wants to and because I think, somewhere in the not-too-distant past, I promised her that I’d go if she went (how’s THAT for maturity, huh?). I may just do the afternoon event, though, and skip the dinner. There are fewer drunk people at the daytime party, and it seems a more casual, less pressurized scene. Besides, the afternoon event is free, and if the whole reunion thing has the potential to be a less-than-pleasant anyway, I’d rather not pay for the privilige of wishing I’d stayed home.