Monday, June 28, 2010

My 20 Year High School Reunion

I went to my 20 year high school reunion last night. It was fun. I seem to have acquired (fostered?) a bit of a misanthropic reputation among my friends but the truth of it is that while I might be incredibly choosy about how I spend my discretionary time, I love people in terms of depth more than breadth and it actually pains me to be unable to know a person well. Small talk bores me. I want to pry. I am nosy and interested. Pat answers annoy me. It's not that I don't care; I care too much, which is funny to say in conjunction with a discussion of my high school reunion because after we got home Christian wondered out loud if maybe he really didn't care about anyone at all except himself and his family and I privately acknowledged that I question whether I am capable of truly loving unconditionally. We're quite  pair. Anyhoo.

I loved seeing people I went to high school with and I wish I could have talked to everyone at length in order to find out what their deal is. I wish I would have spent more of high school doing just that because people are interesting. It doesn't make sense, but for some reason members of a graduating class imprint on each other in a weird way. (It's not unlike a werewolf and a fetus--or however that went down.) It must have something to do with your age and the amount of time you spend together every day at school.  I was as angsty and troubled as anyone but mostly because I thought no boys liked me. I actually felt happy most of the time. And I had good friends and did fun things. Though I wasn't much of a joiner and felt completely anonymous growing up, as it turns out everyone knew who I was just like I knew who everyone else was. I listened incredulously while people told me they were "insecure" and "had no friends" in high school and that is when I decided that no one remembers high school accurately. I think maybe it is impossible to remember it accurately. So that was interesting. Another interesting thing I noticed is that a lot of women's voices seem to have gotten higher over the last 20 years. Is that a thing? Does everyone know that except me? Because I thought my voice was getting lower, but now I'm not sure.

I was happy to find out that people from high school read my blog but also sad because I've probably written some incredibly narcissistic and rude things about people and events which could have hurt someone's feelings. I mean, I've been blogging for 6 years and I'm not really very nice. You do the math. But mostly I just loved talking about blogging. Even when people said they can't blog because they are "too busy raising their families" because--wow--what an efficient way to insult the way I choose to spend my discretionary time. Zing! And, touche. A final word about blogging: Let's all just thank the Lord right now that I didn't have one in high school.

I think that having my own kids approaching the age I was when I met most of the people I saw at the reunion has changed my perception of everyone. This happened when I was teaching college, too. I always tried to be pretty hardcore with my students but after I had a baby I viewed them differently. I started to think of them as people's children trying to get through college instead of thinking of them as my enemies who were trying to extract undeserved As from me. I talked to lots of people at the reunion last night. Some were people I never knew and some I knew very, very well. With each person I felt like that grumpy grandma in A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor. She says to The Misfit, "Why, you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" right before he shoots her.

17 comments:

  1. :). I don't have much to say, but that this makes me smile because I connected with memories and realized that I also would rather ask prying questions.

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  2. I am also sensitive when people say they have no time fur such blogging due to thier higher priorities in life. That insecurity once got me in a heap of trouble on my blog. I will let that be a mystery though. Keep blogging. Its a good use of your time and talents.

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  3. I'm a bit surprised that you went to such an event. The entire situation strikes a cord of fear, shame, embarrassment, sweaty palms, and maybe a little panic into my heart. I want to know all the details, but I don't want to go through the uncomfortable conversations.

    I think I would prefer a virtual reunion, where people could just post stories, life updates, and pictures. So, I guess that's just facebook.

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  4. my high school reunion will probably be held on facebook. i'm not really that sad about it. also, let's thank the lord i DID have a blog in high school so i can look back and be grateful i'm not 16 anymore.

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  5. High School Reunions are way more interesting than high school ever was. Your voice has stayed essentially the same.

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  6. So...who got the 'You Used To Be So Hot' award?

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  7. I'm so glad I got to be at that reunion. I hope mine is half as fun. On the way home, while reminiscing about my high school experience, I estimated that about 90% of my most embarrassing life moments happened during those 3 years. Either that, or I've just gotten use to embarrassment and I just don't care as much. I think that's why we feel so bonded to that unique group: common uncomfortableness and awkward moment.

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  8. So did Christian and Lisa text all night at your reunion like you & Chris did at Christian's? Just wondering... What did you wear? Capris?

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  9. I also like to know all the nitty gritty about people. But it turns out that most people are way more private than I am. Makes for unenlightening conversation.

    And I think voices do get deeper with age. Why it was just the other day that my son said "Mommy, talk normal. Talk like a girl, not a boy." And to think I was feeling super feminine that day.

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  10. I dread small talk. Which is probably why I come across as snobby. I'd rather not say anything than participate in "pleasantries." That said, my 10-year class reunion was a couple years ago, and it was fascinating. It gave me renewed hope, like, "if these weirdos/jerks/slut-muffins (if you add muffin and say it in a high-pitched voice, it sounds a little less slang) can turn into decent, productive human beings, what am I so worried about?"

    p.s. Who "has time" to blog? You have to MAKE time.

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  11. I love small talk because it gives me something to say when I'm about to faint with anxiety (think of those fainting goats). And I haaaaaate when people say they "don't have time" to do ANYTHING anyone else says they do.

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  12. I'm always saying I don't have time to sew, but since I don't know anyone who does, I don't think I'm offending anyone. I know I would have time to sew if I gave up the internet, (or my children) but I still feel like I don't have time to sew.

    Anyway, I think you can be less offended than when I met a new neighbor shortly after my first son was born, and when he learned that I stayed home with my son, he told me he and his wife would stay home with their child except, "We would get too bored." I'm sure you can imagine the responses I've since fantasized about having given. "Yes, the reason I stay home with my son is because changing diapers and nursing all day is SO exciting," or "Yes, only very dull people such as myself can fare well staying home with children." (I do realize that people usually only say breathtakingly rude things when they're feeling defensive or insecure. But some people manage to remain polite even when feeling insecure.)

    I agree that a healthy dose of unselfish interest in other people is a great trick to surviving intimidating social situations. (And a trick to getting past the small talk is to share all kinds of private, embarrassing details about yourself. And now, just as I'm writing this, I realize that I DO use that strategy at reunions but usually DON'T at my blog. Hmmm. Well, maybe it's because things in writing are more incriminating.)

    Your Flannery O'Connor citation is brilliant and hilarious. It's nice to take an interest in people right before they kill you. :)

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  13. I was going to say that my girls did have blogs in high school - and Harry and I thought they were incredibly juvenile!!

    My how things change.

    But reunions don't - what you describe is just what I experienced 25 years ago at my 20 year reunion.

    To think that we have a 50th coming up is unsettling however!!

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  14. If only there were some way to sit and chat in depth with everyone at the same time.

    Once you get past the small talk, it's rare to find truly boring people (oh, but they do exist). Pish.

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  15. Here's the thing about all us who say we gave up blogging to be better moms or to raise our families, etc. Everyone who says that is also saying that they suck at blogging, or nobody ever found their blogs relevant, or the amount of time it took them/me to put together a decent post wasn't worth the finished product. You, and so many other great bloggers, have a gift for writing and communicating that MUST take less time than what it took for us crappy bloggers, and your finished product is a joy to us all. Blog it up, friend, using every second of your discretionary time. I'm reaping the rewards of your "wasted" time.

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  16. Hi, dont know you, but loved this post.

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  17. My reunion was last fall--the day after Thanksgiving. In Michigan. Obviously, I didn't go because WHO wants to spend November in Detroit? Not me. I heard from some of my friends that it was pretty lame.

    I hope it was worth not hanging out with me.

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