||[Sep. 22nd, 2011|05:54 pm]
So, yeah, last weekend was my high school mini-reunion – our official one was last year, a year early because we merged several classes together. So, we’ve officially entered the age of “not enough of us left alive, and we were a pretty small school, so we’ll start merging them now before anyone notices the attrition”. |
And about half of the people I really hung out with were there and half would’ve sooner chewed off their own arms rather than attend. But amazed at how quickly, for not having seen each other in nearly 30 years, we fell right back into conversation as if it were just yesterday that we were worrying about whether we’d have a cool roommate in college. Greyer, heavier (some of us, oof) and wrinklier (some of us not as much as others, ha!), but essentially the same dorks we always were, geeking out over new music we’d found or books we read, or debating the merits of the various Star Trek franchises and what do you MEAN you’ve never seen Firefly or Torchwood, Shut the Barn Door!?!?!
What, you thought I was exaggerating about being dorks? When your entire high school has fewer than 500 people and your class about 130, you are forced to play several roles. You couldn’t just be a band geek, or drama geek or chess club geek – you had to be all three. Plus, be on the yearbook committee AND play at least two sports. Although we could all get away with the dork-sports of track and cross country and none of us actually had to break down and play basketball (which in Connecticut is like playing football in Texas), soccer (because we were too small to field a football team) and baseball. Those were reserved for actual jocks.
So, since I had so much fun reconnecting with a couple of people (don’t get me wrong, most of the people in the room could have gone up in flames and I’d be hard pressed to either care, or remember who the hell they were – it’s not like this was some idyllic experience, more like it was worth wading through the weeds, and pulling off some ticks to get to that perfect blueberry bush) and I have the drive of a pitbull/border collie mix, I decided that I was going to organize a get together this fall for the people we actually WANTED to see. Thus was born the Cool Kids Reunion, aka, the Big Bunch O’Nerds Convention.
So I did it. Getting the group of invitees was fraught with a little bit of peril – where do you end the circle? But I chivvied and herded and cut off the people who really hadn’t been part of the core group. Which in retrospect was fairly easy. What an incestuous little group we were! Out of the dozen of us, six girls, six boys, we had each dated at least two of the others in our circle of friends. So the culling was easy, especially when you've got someone like me who is perfectly comfortable saying "Yeah, I don't actually LIKE her, so NO." I got someone to agree to host. I set up the date – again, at a certain point just saying HERE, this is WHEN. And then scheduled the main event and several optional events, happy hour, a midafternoon hike, post reunion breakfast.
I will admit – in the planning and execution, especially as we got closer to the date, and my event-planner need to have set times for events, addresses, etc., clashed up against the “oh, let’s just play it by ear” crew (“play it by ear” in my book usually equals “dicking around until it’s finally too late to do anything fun except continued dicking around, albeit perhaps with a glass in hand later in the afternoon. And while there are merits there while on a weeklong vacation, I find it INTOLERABLE on a weekend vacation) and several times I was reminded why I was glad to leave high school. And while there’s beauty in how essentially people don’t change and you can pick up where you left off, there’s unbeauty in how little some people have changed. Thankfully, while my knees might be creaky, my eyeballs are still youthful enough to roll easily.
And then, three days beforehand of course, I was possessed by “I’ve done all of this work and going to bear the time and expense of flying up there, missing perhaps the most perfect of faire weather weekends, and it’s going to SUCK.” Because I am all about the half empty glass.
And my biggest worry – one of the guys, one I’d dated for at least a year, I hadn’t seen or heard from since high school. Unlike another of our crew who was gay, B. didn’t come out right after high school. He went away to college, then med school, and then no one heard from him for years. Until he showed up again, handsome, fit, a doctor and, of course, gay. (If you're sitting next to a single middle aged woman, or ARE one, there was just a bitter murmur of "OF COURSE.")
(Yes, I dated a gay man in high school. Seriously? It was awesome. No pressure. I highly recommend it – unless you’re a gay man in high school, in which case the whole “no pressure” thing is probably out.)
And we were TIGHT in school – even after we stopped dating, we were good friends. Sharing jokes, sensibilities, everything. But off to college and…radio silence. Eventually, sometime in the past ten years, B. reached out to the other gay man in our group, although this other guy had come out right after high school. And I’d visit other friends from our group and they’d have a Christmas card from B. Wonderful cards, with pictures of B. and his partner, dressed for Halloween in fabulous costumes. And I thought “I wonder what I’ve done? How come I’m not getting a card? I’m not hard to find...”
Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it – although I must have felt a little funny about it since normally I’d just reach out and say “What am I, chopped liver, I don’t get a Christmas card?” Did he turn into one of those gay men that detests women? (Worked with one of those, that was a blast. Although things got better after one screaming fight ended with me screeching “I’m sorry that my breasts disgust you so much, but they are ATTACHED to me and I didn’t ASK for them. When you start leaving your DICK at home, I will BIND them so they don’t possibly OFFEND YOU!”
I don’t screech often, but when I do...it’s NEVER pretty.
Anyway – there was also the possibility that I’d done or said, or not done, or not said something. My recollections of the last half of senior year and the following year were fuzzy. Okay, deliberately blurred...a lot of painful stuff (relative to an 18-19 year old, mind you, so don’t cry for ME, Argentina) came down the river and I let a lot of details go with the current. But that's another post that still needs working on -- still not quite funny ENOUGH.
That had me in a bit of a knot heading up to the Convention. (The possibility that I'd wronged him in some way, not that my teenage "tragedy" can't be made funny enough.) What if he doesn’t LIKE me, anymore? Because it’s all about ME, of course, and my low self-esteem when it comes to genuine friendship.
Plus, okay, the 8 pounds I’d painstakingly shed over the last three months came rebounding back, like a giant flabby lost boomerang the week before. And the suitcase I’d packed, for ONCE, ahead of time, filled with warm weather clothes, carefully coordinated, accessories and all so that, FOR ONCE, I could travel in minimalist fashion...Well, naturally, cold snap. So, there I was toting nearly 10 extra pounds around my middle and a big suitcase, full of all sorts of cool weather clothes, none of which were going to match, so I had to keep throwing in more things in the hopes that eventually I’d reach a critical mass of SOMETHING matching.
And I had to gird my loins for the inevitable Mom-comments about carrying too much...EVERYWHERE. The "if only you PLANNED your wardrobe" and "if only you ate HALF a sandwich" while feeding me coffeecake, fruit, english muffins with butter AND jelly, and hashbrowns for breakfast.
But I was wrong – first out of the gate was “Oh, my goodness, what happened to your suitcase?!?!” And we all know that while “Mouse the cat’s been using it as sleeping perch and scratching post” is an acceptable response in MY world...it does NOT cut the mustard in Mom-World.
But, eventually, you can build up a tolerance to all sorts of torture and I donned the She-loves-you-but-is-genetically-programmed-to-shred-your-self-esteem Armor and soldiered on.
And guess what, the minute B. and I saw each other, it was like we’d seen each other last week. And before the weekend was over he said “You know what, I’ve been an ASS. I don’t know why I let you slip out of my life, I hadn’t realized how much I missed you and while the whole weekend was fun, reconnecting with you was the best part.”
Sniff. I didn’t cry in the parking lot. But it was touch and go there for a moment.
So, here’s the thing: I’ll admit it, we had an unusually close and tight knit group – we had our own Island of Misfit Toys – and not everyone was that lucky. But seriously, don’t let people slip out of your life carelessly. Reach back out there and pull them back in. It’s not always going to end well – but we’re all getting older and attrition will take us. The more you hang on to, the more likely you are to have some left. Feeling like a poop about your high school/college/work/whatever reunion? Go – just reach out and peer pressure the people you WANT to see into going. Arrange a smaller gathering yourself. Or just meet that long lost friend for lunch or a hike in the park. It might be a little work...it might not work out, but how many good things are easy? Plus, no one likes a lazy whiny crybaby, so fix that or you'll die ALONE.
Now. To gird myself for meeting B.’s husband. What if he doesn’t LIKE me?!?!