This past Friday was the kick off of my 20th high school reunion. Of course I’ve mentioned this. I was in an emotional and psychological pickle about whether or not to attend the festivities. Before I was ridden with angst over how I would fit in with this group of people, some of whom I had been in school with since kindergarten. Making the determination to purchase the tickets, actually make the travel plans and prepare for the festivities really strained psychic safety. And for those faithful readers, you must realize that a sense of security has been so very hard to come by in these last few years and my struggles with that have been somewhat documented already. Yet I did persist in the preparations and scheduling and itinerazing for the celebrations. Being the control freak that I am, I had predetermined to avoid sending my rsvp’s to each event in case I decided to ditch the whole thing altogether. While I wanted to have control about where I was going and what I would be doing, in fact, I preferred to let loose the control over time and attendance toward a freedom to choose what events I would participate in based on how I felt at the time. A few amazing things came about in the wake of my attendance. I did discover a sense of security – not in the world of course, but in myself.
On that note, I had a run-in that might’ve made me feel awful at another time in my life, but this last weekend really exposed me in contrast to the awfulness. In explanation, I determined to be open and welcoming to many of my classmates even though several had not treated me well during high school. When I was young I had a sassy-ass sense of self, but it was often fleeting and dependent on external forces; what I was doing, and what was happening to me at any given time. My desire to avail myself of these people led me to a conversation with a former classmate who was not kind then, and is the younger sibling of a woman who adulterated my former marriage. Despite this negatively intertwined past, I wanted to be genuinely polite and considerate – even in this situation. Afterall, I know who I am, my classmate did not sleep with my ex-husband, and in his arrogant youth was unkind but I believed that maybe in this intervening time he might have matured. The classmate is incredibly unkind still. He is recently engaged to a woman whom he does not know well and she was very friendly and adorable. He is lucky to have her at his side, but his conduct was most unbecoming and even she seemed confused by his ugliness. It seemed so important to him to be rude, yet in my determined welcomeness, he was forced to be over-the-top hostile to make his point. While it prevented me from wanting to speak with him again during the weekend, it also exposed just how ugly and cruel he is. His conduct made me recognize in myself that I have always been a generous and decent person – I don’t have to prove that anymore.
In regards to that idea, I was approached by several classmates with sorta and actual apologies for long ago slights. What is kinda funny is that I was slighted by a classmate for whom I had no care at all. We had gone to school together since kindergarten. I was in mostly honors classes, but we had always been placed in the ‘regular’ curriculum classes and I guess she has felt guilty about our not being friends in high school. I never thought about her not being a part of my circle in high school because we didn’t go to middle school together. I went to a newly desegregated school far outside of my neighborhood where she stayed and went to the local junior high. She and I didn’t run in the same circles after I returned to the neighborhood. I had been exposed to color and lives beyond our little community. It was okay with me that I didn’t take up with my childhood school chums, but I suppose she has some unresolved feelings about me. I think maybe she doesn’t remember that I left her first, to go to a new school so that I could be a different person. She made a point to mention that she had an unplanned pregnancy immediately following high school and I suppose embarrassed about the way she believes that she had excluded me in high school. I guess if she does think she shunned me, she did. But I wasn’t angling to be her friend in school either and haven’t even had occasion to think much of her since entering high school, let alone graduating. Having said all that, she’s seems a lovely and genuinely nice person, I hope that her life has turned out because she seemed somewhat lonely at the festivities of the reunion weekend.
Outside of these experiences, there was a series of events in which I acted like a retarded moron. I have a ‘Freaky Friday” relationship with my best friend from high school. It is so much a doppleganger experience. We looked a little alike. Where we differed, my best friend cured by dyeing her hair and dressing as much like me as she could. She came from the good neighborhood and her family was upper-middle-class. I still don’t really understand what the draw was for her to want to be with/like me in high school. I know her parents never approved then and even they were stunned to see me now and learn that I had transgressed my own class and social standing to enter into their own. But my friend literally changed places with me in this world. She was in those honors classes with me. This last weekend several classmates had a good laugh about all of her notorious cheating through school. She got into a decent college and her parents were determined to help her access the rest of the her life-path toward similarly wealthy living. They did not want her to hang out with someone like me and they made no secret about it either. Ironically, her life closely resembles my worst fears about where I would never want to end up. She never really quite got through college regularly. She finally completed her undergraduate degree online. Now she lives with her NASCAR lovin’ boyfriend in a rural community. She camps out generator-style and drinks a lot to fill her free time.
Going back home means going back to a former version of the self. Some people attend these events to prove how different they are now. The movie star of our class is certainly a gorgeous butterfly borne from a meek creature I knew who had a spark in her heart then. The cheerleader who didn’t quite fit in has come back as a published author. Some people go their reunions to feel superior. That guy who was an asshole to me is so obviously insecure as he made so obvious in placing priority in acting out. Another classmate was so silly in making himself ‘better’ than others by making fun of them, derisively commenting on their jobs and status where he has a bizarre career that seems to make him happy, but not fulfilled. Some people go back to make amends. Those classmates who apologized to me had been waiting 20 years to square things with me. For me, remembering who I was at my core then and who I am now as changed and in my sameness, was a pivotal experience. It was a long way to find myself in love with my former sassyass self. I was not mean-spirited – ever. I was a lot misguided, but never mean to be mean – in fact, generous and free in care and love. I’m pretty proud of that about myself. I didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect to see myself through the eyes of my classmates in such a positive light. I was so sure that this was an event for people to show each other up and be all their best without regard to their norms or even worst selves. Even though a lot of people came for ‘the show,’ the end resulting sentiments I take got to away was not about the self I came with – the schlumpy housewife, not doing much right now -but rather a positive view about who I was and who I am.