Friday, September 23, 2011

15-Year High School Reunion

Last weekend, Keith and I attended my 15-year high school reunion.

I saved this for my last post of the week, because I've been wondering all week what I really had to say about the experience.

Reunions, particularly high school reunions, feel like they've reached almost mythical levels of importance in our society, and I'm not sure why. It was nice to see people, see how they've changed, hear what's going on in their lives, find new similarities with people I didn't know well during high school.

It was not a life-changing event. My sense is that a big reunion (although I know 15 years is kind of an odd one; we missed out on a 10-year, and the organizers decided to go ahead and hold a 15-year one instead of waiting for another 5 years) is supposed to make me stop and really think. I will be in a room filled with people that I haven't seen on a regular basis since I was 18 years old. I thought I was chubby (although I would LOVE to weigh that much again) and my only priority in life was ME. Where was I going to college? What was I going to do with my life? What was I going to do about my hair?!?

So in some sense, I suppose that going to a reunion automatically makes a person confront her 18-year-old self, and consider what has changed. And that could provoke some deep thinking of a sort. Showing off pictures of Eleanor and, whether intentionally or not, also showing off my 8+ months pregnant belly, I did think quite a bit about how the nature of my personal relationships have changed over the years.

But this isn't really a revelation to me. I've known for quite some time that I'm not the same person as I was at 18. Or rather, my brain/the way I think still seems the same but many of my priorities and experiences have changed. To be somewhat flippant, I think this is a normal and positive development.

On the other hand, I can understand why this reunion experience wouldn't be particularly earth-shattering for me. I can't think of anyone from high school that I was constantly in touch with, very close to, with whom I've lost contact since. In July, we went to the Lakehouse weekend with about 10 other high school friends and their spouses/kids. I see my best friends from high school on a pretty regular basis (at least a few times a year). I know about their families, jobs, current hobbies, etc. So seeing these familiar faces was not a surprise.

Another part of my high school experience that may not always be the case is that, overall, people were pretty nice. I wasn't bullied in high school. There weren't any people that I really wanted to confront. I didn't have any one or two particular people in mind that I was either 1) keeping my fingers crossed to find out terrible things had happened to them, thanks to karma, or 2) trying to impress people with where I'm at and what I'm doing. Of course there were people that I liked more and some that I liked a bit less, but none that I felt ruined my life or anything melodramatic like that.

I kept thinking, all this week, that I surely must have something of greater import or depth to report about the reunion, but I was actually a bit relieved by how much of a non-event it was. I enjoyed talking to old classmates and catching up, I was proud of myself for wearing my high-heeled boots and standing for much of the evening, I was surprised by how little of the talk was about the past but that it focused mainly on the here and now.

I was not suddenly shocked into realizing that my life is anything other than I already thought it was, if that makes sense. I'm a happily married mother of 1.8 children. We have a big enough house and enough money. I have a job that is enjoyable and frustrating (sometimes simultaneously). I have good friends and family. I enjoy my hobbies and often don't get enough sleep. I am still me, and a 15-year reunion didn't change my opinion on the matter.


Jonathan said...

I was invited to a reunion last year, and went through the exact same thoughts you did.

In the end I couldn't go because other stuff happened (as it always does around here), but I've often wondered what other people's experiences of reunions were like.

Thanks for writing :)

M. Lubbers said...

It's nice to hear I'm not the only one who is somewhat ambivalent about the reunion hype.

I am, of course, curious to know what it would have been like if you had gone to the reunion. You've had such a unique experience with adopting your three girls .... I could imagine that you would have been a big hit!:)