Our 20th high school reunion is in September and I thought I wanted to attend but my little voice kept nagging at me and I couldn't figure out why, till I finally realized I really didn't want to go. The thought seemed odd since after all, I'd been instrumental in putting together the contact list and emailing everyone and asking for their info. Suddenly though I realized that while I had become friends with a few people in the class over the last few years, they were the only ones I really cared about seeing and I didn't need a reunion for that.
In a class of about 35, there were only a handful of people I really cared about now who never bothered me in school, the rest I could care less about. In a school of just over 600 in K-12, everyone knew everything about everybody else and there were as many cliques in this small school as there were in the bigger ones. Sometimes they can be just as cruel if not worse. My days spent in class were tough, it's not that they were bad every day but I just never felt like I fit in and we all know that fitting in is a huge part of high school! I was smart, I wasn't a bad person, wasn't mean to others, I just wasn't one of them. From the day my parents moved us up here, my siblings and I had a hard time fitting in though I'm not sure why, there was nothing wrong with us, except that maybe unlike everyone else, we weren't related to half the town . Being the new kid on the block is tough. I heard recently that a classmate who I am friends with now (who was eventually one of the popular crowd), sat alone at lunch when she first arrived at our school because nobody would sit with her. So I guess we each have our own experiences with peer pressure and fitting in.
I will admit that moving us here from Miami was the best move my parents could have made in regards to the well being of us kids. Living in the country was great. Even with rough times that comes with being kids, we enjoyed times at home with our folks and grandparents. The area where we lived offered a good education in a good environment and the people overall were very kind and generous. My senior year was my favorite year because I was on the newspaper staff, and served as news editor and was also on the yearbook staff. That was a great time for me, I was writing the opinion page and enjoying the class very much. But other than that, much of the rest is a blur.
I attended the 10 year reunion in 1997 because honestly I felt I had something to prove to those people who had been cruel to me....the class snobs and the asshole guys, none of which are among my small circle of friends I mentioned an with whom I keep in touch. It was nice to see the same people mentioned above but the rest--I just didn't care. I attended the reunion for selfish reasons, not to see them, but for them to see me. I wanted the snobs and assholes to see the person they tossed aside and wouldn't have anything to do with because she didn't wear makeup and didn't have fancy clothes and wasn't a cheerleader and wasn't in the Christmas pageants, and all those other umpteen reasons teenagers ostracize and ignore their classmates who they think are beneath them. At the reunion I kept telling myself, "you are just as good as they are". There was my little voice again, the one that constantly talks to me telling me one day that I'm not good enough and the next day that I am. I have always had a complex and I don't know if that ever goes away. Little by little I hammer away at it, but I think it takes a lifetime to get rid of it. Those who know me best know it's as much a part of me as any of my other traits and they are pretty good about dealing with that side of me.
For more than ten years now I've been friends with Susan, who was very quiet in school, well-liked but stayed to herself, it was just she and Robert. And I've become friends with Jeanette, Katrina, Stephanie and Julie who were all very popular and well-liked but also kind people, never cruel, and I found out later they each had their own share of struggles. There was also Melissa, a very kind and very smart girl who was as unpopular as I was, and she was picked on quite a bit. I suppose in my own right I should take some responsibility. You see, one of my friends recently apologized to me, not for the act of commission but for the act of omission--for not doing anything. You see, while she never did or said anything to harm me, and we always got along, she felt bad she never stuck up for me. She apologized, but frankly she has nothing to apologize for, she did nothign wrong. I say to her, "it's ok Steph, I understand". To be honest, I didn't do that for Melissa either. I should have stuck up for her. And so I guess I'm guilty too.
Recently I emailed Katrina, Steph, Julie and Susan to tell them I didn't want to be a part of the reunion and I suppose it was a surprise given I was working with them to plan the darn thing. But my gut told me that I just didn't want to go and I didn't want to force myself. I don't need a reunion to keep up with them and the other few I've become friends with, all of whom are here except for Jeanette who lives in Pennsylvania.
Anyway I'm sure I can't be the only person on this earth whose ever felt this way about a reunion or gone similar high school experiences, it's just the way it has been, is now, and will always be...as long as there are kids in the world :)