“I’m not going and you can’t make me.”
“Come on. You have to go. It’ll be fun.”
“It won’t be fun. I will be uncomfortable the whole time. You know I’m going to revert to my shy self, stand in the corner all night long and no one will talk to me. None of those people will even remember me. Most of them didn’t even know me back then and I’m sure they have nothing to say to me now. Besides… I’m too fat.”
“You are not fat.”
“I am fat. I’m certainly not hot. I wish I could go back totally hot.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“I am not being ridiculous……..by the way, how long does it take to get an MBA?”
I am going to my high school reunion this week. My high school experience was perfectly enjoyable and relatively free of traumatic experiences. Yet, despite the positive memories, I find myself dealing with a few disconcerting reunion related issues.
I received the reunion notice months ago. I was sure it was just the impetus I needed to lose those last 5 or even 10 pounds. I now find myself 4 days before the reunion having gained another 5 pounds instead of having lost the 5 I had hoped to! Stupid Taco Bell Value Menu. Not wanting to spend too much money, I decided to wear an old, favorite dress from the back of my closet to the reunion. I was most frustrated and disappointed when my family pointed out that it was the exact same dress I had worn to the previous reunion. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that, are you? I bet no one would even notice. The dress and shoes I did eventually end up buying, both from the clearance rack, together cost the same amount as the “Sensational Shaper” girdle I bought to wear underneath. As long as I don’t have to eat or breathe, I think the outfit will work out well.
I tried filling out the questionnaire for the reunion booklet and froze. The only thing I could think of writing was, “Things are fine. I’m pretty happy.” I left many questions blank. I even began to wonder what the heck I was going to talk about when I got to the reunion. The way I was going, I could see myself bragging at the banquet about how I was thrilled to have gotten all my laundry done that day. Reunions have their own special language and unspoken expectations. I was failing miserably at the proper reunion marketing of myself. It helps to have something about your life that makes you stand out, makes you memorable. I haven’t lived in Italy or had 12 kids or started my own internet company. I’m not an actor, I haven’t been in jail and I’ve never been bungee jumping in the Grand Canyon. My average, suburban life was not nearly unusual enough or exciting enough or successful enough to make a proper, positive reunion impression on any of my former classmates.
Not only did I have expectations and hopes of how I would look at my reunion, but I also had a desire to have something in my life that made me special. I wanted something to make me stand out. At a minimum I wanted a size 6 dress, flat abs and a fabulous answer to the question, “So, what have you been up to?” It was obvious to me that I needed to do a little last minute work to become reunion ready. So I made a list of what I need to accomplish in the next 4 days before my reunion.
Reunion To Do List
1. Pluck out the 43 gray hairs on the front of my hairline. 2. Cover up my farmer’s tan with self tanner. 3. Sign up for an online, extremely accelerated MBA program. 4. Purchase alumnus car sticker from said school. 5. Rent a Prius…or maybe a Hummer. I do need to decide what impression I want to make. 6. Fast all week. 7. Get on the board of a charity. 8. Overcome an unfortunate health obstacle with the support of my loving and beautiful family. 9. Travel to Tibet to discover some resemblance of inner peace. 10. Meet someone famous. 11. Figure out how to casually mention this famous meeting in any conversation. 12. Become fluent in a second language. 13. Backpack somewhere for a year. 14. Run a marathon. 15. Buy a big bottle of the anti-wrinkle/anti-zit miracle potion I saw on that infomercial.
As I thought about my list I came to realize how superficial and unrealistic it was. It wasn’t me. But was it even a possibility that I could attend my reunion as………just plain me? Just average, normal, boring me? Faults and all? A little chubby, a little less successful than I rightfully should be? A little less wealthy than I want to be? Nobody would be impressed. Nobody would talk about me later. I wouldn’t be reunion famous.
And then it hit me. That’s exactly what I hope to find when I get there. I want my fellow classmates to come as exactly who they are-faults and all. It really doesn’t matter much to me if they are rich or fat or bald or famous. I’m more interested in what kind of people they turned out to be. I’m interested in their life story-the good and the bad. We’ve all had successes and high points. We’ve all had struggles and hardship. We’re guaranteed to have that in common. I’ll be going to the reunion to hear about the things in life that make my classmates happy and content. I’ll be going to the reunion to commiserate about the things that have made them sad and disappointed. Our life’s journey started at the same place many years ago. I want to hear what happened next.
So to all my fellow reunion-ites: we spent four years together at the same high school, in the same town. We cruised the same street. We spent time at the same river. We liked and disliked the same teachers. We cheered the same sports team. We worked in the same fields during the summer. We wore the same green and white. I look forward to seeing you, faults and all, and look forward to hearing where our common experiences have taken you since. Please come up and say hi to me, in case I revert to my old shy self. You will be able to find me at the head of the buffet line. I’ll be quite hungry since I’ve been fasting all week.
Mira the cat
August 1990- July 2007