To Attend or Not to Attend?

I’m the last person I would have ever thought would go to her 10-year reunion. The day I graduated high school I thought, “Thank goodness I’ll never have to see any of those people again” (no offense, PVHS class of ’02, that was the me of 10 years ago talking). It was time to start my life, hit the road and seek my fortune. Okay fine, spend a year going to local college and hanging out in my parents’ basement, BUT THEN seek my fortune. Ten years later, I’m renting a house with my boyfriend and a friend from college, working in publishing and slowly but surely chipping away at those student loans.

At my friend Nikki’s recent wedding, the topic of our 10-year high school reunion came up. Should we go? Do we care? Will our hot history teacher be there as a chaperon, perhaps?

It seems to me that culturally-speaking, once “having a terrible time in high school” became a thing for many (the majority?) of people, interest in attending class reunions years later has waned significantly. Nobody gets excited about these things anymore. Who wants to be confronted with the people who knew them when they had really bad acne? Or like, the people who were there when they ripped their pants that one time in gym class because friggin’ Jessica Reilly spiked the volleyball right at their face and so they fell and it hurt really bad? Nobody, especially right when you’re riding high on your wave of late ’20s Enthusiasm for Life.

Books, movies and TV have led me to believe that there are three reasons why someone would want to go to their high school reunion:

1) They want to show everyone how hot/successful/well-liked they still are.

2) They want to seduce their high school crush who now works in gay porn.

3) They want to stick it to their high school tormentors by arriving in a helicopter.

I don’t really fall into any of those categories, but after Nikki’s wedding (which allowed me to reconnect with some old high school as well as college friends), I felt this weird nostalgia descend on me. I couldn’t understand what was happening. Maybe this is a biological change that occurs in people after a decade has passed since a particular milestone, like some weird, wistful menopause? Or maybe it’s the fact that a lot has certainly changed for all of us over the course of the last ten years, and so reconnecting with some past homies is a way of grasping for the familiar. Obviously a big part of it is curiosity, and also maybe some unfinished business in one form or another. Sorry if that sounds creepy. I don’t mean it in a creepy way.

So when my besties and I talked about whether or not this was something we wanted to do, I got mixed feedback: Yes. Hell no. Maybe? Is there an open bar and is it top shelf? Some friends said they have no desire to see people with whom they never had a connection in the first place. High school was cliquey, and cliques are depressing. They said they still talk to the people from high school that they want to stay friends with, and so they didn’t see the point. Others said the advent of Facebook has made a reunion unnecessary; we already know who works for what company, in what city so-and-so lives, and who has had the most babies for some reason. One friend said, “I’m afraid that I would regress,” and that struck a chord with me.

In high school I was like, low end of the D-squad, fo’ sho’. I had a bad attitude, I sucked at homework and I barely even attended my senior year. I had friends, but only a small group, and I only really got close to most of them during our college years. I’m not the person I used to be anymore, you guys, I’m super awesome now. So knowing that I’ve grown and changed and wouldn’t want anyone to judge 2012 Laura based on what they remember about 2002 Laura must mean that I have to give everyone else that same benefit of the doubt. It’s probably safe to assume that everyone else has grown and changed, too; in fact it would be unfair to assume that they haven’t.

Last fall, my parents attended their 50th high school reunion. How’s that for not even imaginable? They said people traveled from all over the country to be there; someone even flew in from Germany. There were no cliques, everybody talked to everybody else- which probably had something to do with not being able to recognize each other anymore due to so much time passing, but still, that’s kind of beautiful, right? They also said that it was a bittersweet experience, because they came to find out that a lot of the people they had gone there hoping to see had passed away; many of them had already been dead for years.

So yeah, maybe high school wasn’t my favorite life chapter so far (that award goes to childhood because of all the Disney things I got to do/own/sleep on).But it contributed so much to who I am now, in good ways and bad, that I can’t help but be curious about those who shared the experience with me. I’m proud of the person I’ve gradually morphed into since I walked out those doors ten years ago. I’m proud of my friends too, and all they’ve accomplished. Who knows what kind of fun we might have. And if it blows, we can always just bail and go hang out in the parking lot.

You can read more from Laura Levatino on her blog.

Feature image: Touchstone Pictures.

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