Don't get me wrong; it was great seeing a lot of the people I'd been in school with since kindergarten. We didn't have a ten-year reunion, so for a lot of us, we hadn't seen each other since graduation.
|Mrs. Schmenkman, front row, center|
So it was wonderful to catch up with Mrs. Schmenkman Friday night and relive all our adventures.
I was nauseated most of Saturday- from hangover, from heat, from the aforementioned stomach bug, I'm not sure. It was unpleasant, to say the least, and the nausea did not go away when we walked into the Saturday night reunion festivities. How strange to see people you'd known from age five and feel awkward making small talk about where they live, what they do for a living, their families! Even more awkward to see an ex you hadn't seen in about fifteen years whom you did not think would be attending.
My stomach settled after awhile and I found another friend to hang out with, we'll call her Raimen here, after her fabulous blog. Raimen was another geek friend who had felt isolated in high school (she was also pals with the fantastic Mrs. Schmenkman). We wrote a soap opera together in early high school called As the Nose Runs. She too was apprehensive about revisiting the past. Fortunately (for us, not her, really) Mrs. Schmenkman had to work during the reunion at the bar next door. Raimen and I decided we'd sneak out and say hi to her. Mrs. Schmenkman's bar had a kick-ass Irish rock band (think Flogging Molly with a touch of Dropkick Murphys- awesome cover of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, BTW). Needless to say, our visit wasn't our last. I was so grateful Raimen was there- someone else who didn't necessarily think high school was the best years of our lives and felt silly pretending it had been.
Apparently all kinds of bonding took place while we were gone, including the class picture, which we laughed about missing, but now seems like one of those little kind of ice-breaking activities that brings everyone together. From that point on in the night, I felt eerily like I did in high school: on the outside looking in.
|Me, bottom row, right. Shades.|
My class seemed to have a fairly set list of prescribed "likes" that I just didn't agree with: Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood was the album everyone had and was played at every party. I was desperate for new music- I'd had a subscription to Rolling Stone since I was in ninth grade and I used to buy albums no one had ever heard of based on the reviews. I loved what little punk music I could get my hands on. (See this post.) I used to hide my Social Distortion tape in a Dr. Feelgood case so I wouldn't get ragged on. (This was precipitated by my boyfriend looking over the cover art on the Social Distortion album I was listening to during the midday break at a swim tournament and asking me "What the hell is this junk?") Everyone loved Julia Roberts and Pretty Woman. To this day, I cannot stand that movie, and I find Julia Roberts fairly off-putting. I was a fan of Audrey & Kate Hepburn, Grace Kelly, The African Queen, West Side Story, Louis Armstrong in High Society. I remember hiding Alice's Adventures in Wonderland behind a copy of 17 magazine in the school library. I just always felt like I didn't belong. Everyone just "got" something I didn't; they seemed to be sure of themselves in a way that I wasn't.
|1st grade. Bottom row, left. Red tights. Saddle shoes.|
It probably helped that most of them had been at the family picnic with their kids earlier in the day that I didn't attend. I imagine that the common experience of being parents bonds you with people somewhat easily. Being one of the few (maybe only at this gathering? I didn't ask) people without offspring does set you apart from the group like nothing else can. I felt disjointed and discombobulated the whole next day, until I had our usual Sunday night dinner with my usual gang. I began to settle down, feel like I was in my own skin again, and yes, feel right with the choices I'd made in my life, even if they were very different from the choices my classmates had somehow all made together.
My first year of college I came across a quote on a Celestial Seasonings teabox. (Do you know they don't print quotes on their boxes of tea anymore? It's a travesty, if you ask me.)
It said: Persons of genius are .. more individual than any other people- less capable, consequently, of fitting themselves, without hurtful compression, into any of the small number of molds which society provides in order to save its members the trouble of forming their own character. - John Stuart Mill.
So reunion's over, and I can go back to my life. If we have a 25-year one, well, yeah, I'll probably go. I wanna try again, remember who I am this time, be proud of it even if my life is vastly different from everyone else's. And hopefully next time I won't have an upset stomach.