Friday, June 6, 2008
My 10 year high school reunion is this Saturday, and I have to admit that the idea of a reunion was a lot more appealing ten years ago than it is now. It's not that I'm not A) curious to see what's become of my former classmates and B) eager to revise their mental images of me -- specifically, to correct six years of damage (I am not slow; my high school actually started in Junior High, hence the six years) done by, in no particular order: retainer, unibrow, tie dye, love beads, snap-leg jeans, Dockers, leggings worn with oversize sweatshirts, overalls, and, the last time many of them saw me, face down on a bench in Riverside Park, vomiting (yay graduation!). It's just that the thought of seeing everyone again makes me vaguely uncomfortable.
This doesn't make me special, but -- shockingly -- I was not cool in high school. I mean, I was cool on the inside, obviously, but in a quirky, nerdy way that was not cool in the early '90s. Nerd-chic didn't really get big until the end of the decade. So I was sort of a lost soul, too much of a goody-goody to stake claim to coolness by smoking pot, drinking, or having a boyfriend, but a flesh-and-blood teenager nonetheless, who wore far too much makeup, harbored secret crushes, and longed to belong in some way. I wasn't an outcast in the way that Ally Sheedy was in The Breakfast Club, but I wasn't really on the radar of the cool kids. I was sort of like Angela in "My So-Called Life," only not as pretty (yet, Mom -- yet. I know you think I was beautiful then, but you're my MOM) and a better student. I had my Rayanne in the form of Anna, a girl I glommed onto in 9th grade because she wore fishnets and Hole tee shirts and seemed fabulously weird. We became best friends because it turned out that we were fabulously weird in the same ways, and for the rest of high school I had a person I belonged with. I had other friends, too -- mostly goody-goodies or nerds like me -- but I still felt like I fell squarely (pun intended) in the center of the high school social hierarchy. Anna and I used to make ourselves feel better by assuring each other that "peaking" in high school was a waste. "People like __________ and ___________ are cool now," we'd say as we nibbled on bagels in the courtyard during free periods, "But this is, like, the coolest they will ever get. It will all be downhill from here. We, on the other hand, will be late bloomers, and when they are all fat and bald we will be awesome."
I guess now it's time for the big reveal.
The cult and culture of high school is funny, though -- I bet even if I see someone who is now fat and bald who formerly ignored me in the hallways, I will still feel like I can't talk to them. I honestly think sometimes that going through puberty in junior high and high school is the worst idea ever. I mean, babies can learn languages easily as infants because they are just learning how to communicate. You can imprint a baby with pretty much anything. In puberty, adolescents are like babies again, but instead of learning how to talk they're learning how to experience adult emotions. So the skinny kid who laughed at you during your 8th grade dance when you sat on the bleachers by yourself while everyone else slow danced to "November Rain" can, like, scar you for life. That doesn't seem fair, does it?
Anyway, it's not that the actual reunion is going to suck, it's just that it brings back all of the memories of high school, which are mostly memories of sadness, awkward adolescence, or insecurity. I guess the one perk of having peaked in high school is that you're totally psyched to go to reunion and revisit the good old days. In the long run, though, I guess that's pretty depressing, too. Which is why they serve drinks! We may be old, but at least we're finally legal.