17 November 2011

To Reune or Not To Reune

Somewhat unfathomably to me, it's been 20 years since I graduated high school. Via the blessing/curse that is Facebook, one of my old classmates reached out to me to get my address so she could send me an invitation to our 20th reunion.

I was reluctant but obliged because she had been nice in school and we'd actually been best friends in elementary school. I figured I'd just say no when the invite arrived. What I didn't expect was a handmade, hand written invitation accompanied by a mix CD of songs from 1991, also handwritten and decorated. Somehow that made it harder to dismiss without more consideration.

Some background: my senior class had 51 people, most of whom I'd known since kindergarten. One transferred to our school a few months before graduation and he hated us all; he didn't even show up to graduate. I don't expect him to come. Two are convicted rapists, one still in jail I think, and the other out on probation. Obviously, no desire to see or even be in the same room as either of them. Another was arraigned on drug charges several years back. Mom reads the local paper and keeps me abreast of such things.

So, of course, that also means I've heard about lots of weddings. On occasion, I run into people or their parents, so I've also heard about someone who needed a kidney transplant a couple years ago and someone who got divorced. Really it's more that they run into me since I tend not to recognize them. While their looks have often changed, mine seem eminently recognizable. (As for the parents, it's not like I knew all of them.)

My last encounter with an old classmate was about a year ago. He was very nice, had an attractive wife, and very well behaved children.

Guests are welcome at the reunion, but I find myself with no one to bring which would put me out there without any buffer or sanctuary.

Before we'd even graduated, most of my closest friends had drifted off for various reasons. Some had left for other schools before senior year. The people I liked best in 11th and 12th grade weren't in my class.

By the end, there was a casual group of us and my "best friend." I put it in quotes because it's not like we were actually that close. We hung out, played tennis, went to movies, and her church's fair. (Assuming she wasn't dating someone in which case I didn't see her much.)

She's the only person who kept in touch with me once we'd started college. She wrote the worst letters, long but saying absolutely nothing. We talked about an election at some point when she revealed she wasn't registered to vote, so hadn't despite having opinions about the candidates. I was appalled and said they should make registering to vote mandatory to graduate if you were 18 like learning CPR had been for us. She said, "You can make me register, but you can't make me vote."

That infuriated me so much, I actually did write our old principal a letter with my suggestion. He thought it was a great idea, though revised it to sending reminder letters to students when they turned 18. Not mandatory but better than nothing.

Also, I was assured that I would just as soon my old friend not vote. Before I recognized that I was bi, I went to a yearly dance at college called The Homo Hop. It occurred around National Coming Out Day and was open to everyone, just a great dance. (It's too bad I was not tuned in yet to my sexuality and not yet out, because that year was the best Homo Hop while I was at college.) I told my "best friend" from high school about it because I thought it was awesome, and she said, "I'd burn the place down." And she meant it.

So I was done. Didn't send her a Christmas card that year and voila! Permanently disengaged. No desire to see her again. Last I heard she teaches locally and is married to a guy who does recreation for inmates or something.

One person comes to mind that I'd go out of my way to see. Kate and I crossed paths about 7 years ago and hung out a bit, but she's no longer living in the area. Also, I know she blew off our 10th reunion just as I had. If we were in the same place, I wouldn't need a reunion as an excuse to see her.

It's not like everyone in my class sucks. At least I assume many of them are fine now. I'm just not particularly drawn to them.

It wouldn't be so terrible to hang out for a few hours except that my least favorite question is, "So what do you do?" If I could go and not talk about myself, I might be game. There's a certain amount of conversational maneuvering I can swing (though not at all smoothly), but a couple of hours during which the intent is to catch up is more than I can manage.

Fine, I'll say it: I don't want to feel like a loser. It's been a rough year for the most part, and I don't want to tell them about it. Amidst these people, I was valedictorian and voted most likely to succeed. Granted, it's not like they all believed the latter was true, but I'm nowhere close by conventional standards.

Why do I care? It's not so much that I care what they think, it's how being around them triggers my own negative thoughts. Part of me thinks I am a loser by objective standards. Mostly I hold these thoughts at bay knowing I've chosen the life I have. In many ways it is what I want though at a glance it might not appear so.

Anyway, with the year I've had, depression could so easily take me over. I've been in pragmatic mode for months, but there are things I can't change or fix and the weight of that sometimes breaks through. I don't need to fall apart at my 20th high school reunion.

Looks like I should RSVP that I won't be there...

A year ago on TTaT: Orange tulips


  1. I think Vahid could register a lot with what you wrote. It's been a struggle for us to stay afloat some times and that makes it hard. There has been lots of fighting and making up of course, but it's not easy to work through it all.

    I think you have to do what's going to make you happy. If not going is going to help you have peace of mind, then blow it off. It's about you, not impressing people you knew 20 years ago.

    (says the girl who kind of stalks some high school people on FB o.O)

  2. :) I think part of me feels I should make an effort to be more social. And yet... there are reasons I have not made any effort to keep in touch with most these people. Perhaps not the group to reach out to...

  3. Also, in most cases, the basic deets on FB are more than enough to satisfy any curiosity I might (though usually don't) have. :)

  4. Sarah's right. Jesus, this does sound a lot like what I've been going through.

    A friend I've known since childhood in San Diego, who has been around the world and wound up in Vancouver, BC, is going to be in Portland this weekend for a programming fair, and she sent me a FB message letting me know, and I'm going to tell her I can't make it since I have to work, which is true, but also because I'm embarrassed because I don't feel like I've done anything with my life at all.

    I guess in a way I've been running away from my life for decades now, at least since high school. Probably high time I stopped and did something about it.

  5. Oh, Vahid. Of all the ways we are simpatico, this is one I wish we did not share.

    If you like this childhood friend, I would make an effort to see her. You could perhaps steer the conversation to let her tell you about what she's been doing while minimizing talk about yourself. Or you could talk about Sarah instead of what you're doing/not doing. And share stories about the old days...

    If you're indifferent, by all means skip it. But if she's someone you'd like to see if only you didn't have to talk about yourself, consider doing it. May not sound like a reasonable suggestion from me, but I'm better one on one.

    Also I have told some of my loser saga to a couple old classmates over the years, and they were very supportive. Didn't seem loser-y to them.

    Hang in there!