Saturday, February 10, 2007

Reunited and it feels so....oh nobody wants to hear that crap

To start off with an aside, you should be reading TiNO even if you're already politically aware, even if you don't want to be too politically aware, even if you think politics is bull. Somehow they can give me the equivalent of a meal of cooked spinach with a side of chocolate ice cream so I'm not overwhelmed by the fear of it all. Today, I got a link to this little piece of literary genius that made me almost pee myself.

Quick disclaimer: I've been spoiling for a fight for about 3 weeks now. It's part PMS, part winter blahs, a dose of just being a bitch and today a generous helping of a sinus headache so bad that I am praying for death. Please attribute anything that sounds inflammatory here to those factors and not to any personal animosity. Unless taking it personally could induce you to come to my house and shoot me right in the third eye which will ooze viscous snot instead of blood, if it'll induce you to do that then, yeah, I'm talkin' to you, please bring it!

On to the meat of the story: Class Reunions.

10 years ago I went to my 10th high school reunion. It was the same weekend as the Bee wedding and it turned out to be the weekend that Princess Diana died.

The reunion itself came in 2 parts. There was an afternoon part in a local park where you brought your own food and your family, if you had one, and you milled around and signed in and got a little booklet with entries from people who had been organized enough to send something in. I went and I didn't bring my family because I don't have one and I met up with the 2 people I'd planned to go with. Truth be told I think I convinced them to come with me when they weren't into it. I talked to a few people, observed some others, Chili was probably the only person that I talked to that I ran into there without pre-planning it and other than that I didn't have a great time because I didn't learn much that was new and it was all angled toward the super awkward. Which, you know, is probably to be expected, meeting people after such a long time you need some time to warm up.

I left after maybe an hour, threw my booklet on the passenger seat of my car and headed to the Bee's condo to watch the great opening of the presents before it was time to go to part deux of the reunion.

Part two was a dinner and dancing affair at a now-defunct restaurant with a neon whale as its sign. I showed up, knowing I had one person I'd planned to meet with and looking forward to meeting Mr. Chili. We found a table, about 6 of us I think. The best part of the table conversation ever is the part that reminded me what a fucker I was in high school, largely irredeemable I tell you. I was having fun talking to a woman and her husband and at one point she very calmly looked up and said, "You guys never talked to me in high school." She wasn't wrong and I ended up keeping in touch with her for about a year before she moved and I lost her. Her husband made his own drum sticks. They sent me some when I was on tour with a percussion show. They were awesome.

I worked my way across the room to the bar and back again and I met a bunch of people. Stories that I've probably told you a million times about the guy who now pilots a helicopter and the guy who built his own cabin and the dude who was nutso drunk and had moved cross country for a girl and been dumped and was in the process of being bailed out by his best friend from high school. That last guy? Third grade teacher.

About halfway back to the table I looked around and realized something. Most of the crowd had gone home for the afternoon break and read their booklets. Instead of talking to people to find out about them they were sitting in the same groups they'd sat in when we were in school, showing eachother blurbs in the booklet and pointing to where that person was in the room. I didn't learn about as many people but I think I got better stories. This one guy I was friends with from 3rd grade had a speech he gave whenever anyone asked about him. I watched him deliver it a minimum of 4 times and it was word perfect every time. I felt bad for his wife and tried to engage her but it turns out they're perfect for each other and she liked the way it was going down.

I left the lights on in my car (my mom's car, I don't own a car) all night. I took my leave later. When three 28 year old guys strip to the waist during YMCA you know it's time to go home. You're glad you saw it and all but you know you don't want to see what happens next. My last formal goodbye was to our class president who was curt and dismissive. Then out to the parking lot where I found that I needed a jump start. I phrased my request for assistance poorly when I walked back into the foyer and someone cracked a joke about it and I was immediately transported back to high school and I felt awful. Someone's spouse jump started my car and I got out of there quickly and gratefully.

I wasn't a popular kid in high school. Frankly, a lot of the time I wasn't even very popular with my group of friends. I was always running from something and I was overly dramatic and I made a lot of shameful decisions. If you think I'm awkward and say the wrong thing now you should have seen me full of hormones and caffeine. I didn't like me much then and when I think back on that chick now I don't like her. I still actively have trouble being friendly with people who are like her.

Yeah, and you know what? I'm different now. But I bet I see more of a difference than anyone else does. Not drinking caffeine helps but it's not a cure all, even I know that.

I want to go to my 20th reunion this July.

I am apparently in the minority of all people who have ever attended an American school between the ages of 14-18.

Chili just wrote an entry about the reunion and every comment but mine can be boiled down to "FUCK NO!" and a graphic of a back view of someone running away with his or her ass on fire. This is approximately the same response I've gotten from anyone I've asked about a reunion except maybe my mother.

So now (and I recognize this is me making myself feel like this not anyone else doing it to me) I feel shitty about wanting to go to my reunion. Thinking through it logically there's a way better than average chance that I'll have a crappy time at this one. I mean, I had a great time at the last one, so I've already beaten the odds. There aren't a ton of people that I want to find out about and the ones I do probably won't be there. I mean, if the response I'm getting is any indication they don't need to hire a hall they can book a table for 2 at McDonald's and it'll still be too optimistic a choice for the turnout. It's not like I've done anything wildly different than I had at the 10 year reunion, I don't have kids or a partner to talk about and even if I did why would anyone be interested in that? They weren't all that interested in what I had 10 years ago.

The thing I really liked, though, was hearing other people's stories. My favorite part of the evening was probably sitting quietly listening to the story of a guy whose beloved older brother was a student of my dad's. A couple of years later that brother died and I was so glad to have had the time to sit with the surviving one to learn about how much they enjoyed eachother despite enormous differences. I re-met someone there who is now one of my best friends. And maybe most importantly I got reminded that I can be a better person and I still have work to do.

Ideally I suppose I want a reunion of everyone who pretty much ever went to our high school. I was close to a lot of people in other grades and I knew a lot of people from many years earlier and later through different connections. I'm supposed to suggest that to the powers that be but I haven't managed it yet. I picture it out on the old football field, an all day affair with food for sale maybe. There should be DJ'd music but also live music from all the people who have bands and connections now. I know at least 4 people just off the top of my head, not including me. I'd like there to be a big notice board somewhere so that if you're looking for someone you can post that and hopefully they'll see it. Maybe also a sort of tote board where you can register your attendance so if someone wants to find you they at least know you're out on the field somewhere. A 50/50 raffle is mandatory, and we'd donate the money to the school. It'd be neat to get a blog set up so people could enter memories and stories and that way when you got home at the end of the day you could look back on that.

Ideal ain't gonna happen by July and probably won't ever happen.

Most completely unideal is to go with someone I have to manage. You'll notice that I didn't talk about my date to the last reunion. I thought about bringing one. A lot. In the end I didn't bring anyone because there was no one I could bring that wouldn't bring so much baggage that it'd get in the way of the intention of the event. I decided I was better off on my own and it turned out to be true. Turns out to be true a lot for me, not just at reunions. Suzanne expressed excitement about going and it sounds like she'll be the ideal partner for the event. I think we'll both be there for similar reasons, we've known eachother since grade school but been out of touch for many years, and it's always nice to have a touchstone so you can take a break from re-meeting all these people which is really hard work.

Chili was unsettled by a comment I made on her reunion entry. It was a little curt but that's just because I didn't add the disclaimer from above. What I was trying to say is that if you don't want to come don't come. OK I actually did say that but my reasoning is that I don't want anyone to do me any favors by coming because then I will feel obligated to tailor the experience to be sure that they enjoy themselves and that will almost certainly mean that I will not enjoy myself because, dude, I have no control over how this thing is going to go. It could be fun, it could be boring, it could be such a blazing disaster that weapons are drawn, friendships ended and mascara runs. I don't know!

I think that's part of the attraction.

So, if Suzanne truly is as interested as she says we may be sitting together in July, just the 2 of us, at a small table in McDonald's but at least we'll have given it a shot and the fries will be good.


  1. I'm still with you, girl! And if it IS just the two of us sitting at McDonald's (not even the same McDonald's we went to as kids, but at least it still has the big yellow M), then so be it. Or better yet, we'll hit the Pizza Slut -- we ate more there as teens, anyway. And it's in the same place.

    But I'm up for mixing it up, making it our own reunion thing -- maybe hitting the daytime picnic-y thing, and doing our own dinner-time thing. Whatever makes it good for the people I would really like to see.

    I really liked you in high school --- you were smart and funny, and a real hoot. And you still are. Cut your self some slack, and join me for a pan pizza. I promise I'll rip one end of the straw wrapper off and blow it at you, even though I tell my kids they'll poke each others eyes out if they do that. Hey, they'll be at Nana's!

    I guess now it's my turn to do the "class reunion" post....

  2. Anonymous7:42 PM

    Okay - knowing what I know now, I can TOTALLY take your comment MUCH better than I did this morning.

    If I go - and I'm not saying I will, but I haven't ruled it out (my ass isn't on fire yet) - I will go for MYSELF. I won't go to keep you company or to make the experience for you (though I WOULD do that if you asked me to).

    I am profoundly grateful that I went to our ten year reunion if for no other reason than it gave me YOU. I know I tell you all the time, but I'm going to say it again - I love you. You are a vital friend. You've helped me learn a lot about myself and how I deal with the world, and I am grateful, nearly every day, that I have you back.

    If I decide to go, I feel as though I will be more comfortable if I have a 'posse' with me - can I hang out with you two, please? My not wanting to go is entirely wrapped up in my own fears and insecurities, and I would feel much better having trusted Capital-G-Girlfriends to run to if someone trips a land mine...

  3. Anonymous10:01 PM

    Unfortunately, you usually have to wait until a lot of your classmates are dead before your school starts to mix the grades into multi-year reunions. Not something to wish for.