Sunday, March 20, 2005

Nostalgia Still Ain't What It Used to Be

I can barely believe that my will take place this year. I certainly don't feel that old, and I like to think I don't look that old (though no one would mistake me for an 18-year-old, for sure).

I also don't feel much longing for those days. Aside from the fact that I struggled with a crippling depression for much of my adolescence, the rigidly stratified if-you-don't-play-football-you-don't-exist nature of small-town high-school society just didn't appeal to me. Some of my friends and my then-boyfriend had already gone on to college by the time I became an upperclassman, and I spent a good deal of my high school years wishing I were already in college.

Even though I've moved to another state, my friends from high school and I are still in frequent touch. My friend Sue, whom I've known since kindergarten, emails me almost every day from her office in Dallas. Other friends and I swap jokes over email and try to get together when Greg and I head south to visit my family. Those friends who still live in Massachusetts still get together every so often, and we've thrown our own "non-reunion" parties from time to time. I saw another high school classmate while visiting New Orleans in January; Sandy and I have a guaranteed date to get together every other year when I head south for Mardi Gras.

Not surprisingly, I didn't attend my 25th reunion back in 2000. Sue came up from Dallas and Sandy from New Orleans, and it's nice that they got to see each other, but I wanted no part of that scene. Fortunately, I was able to avoid the issue altogether because I was working in California that week anyway. I later saw a videotape of the occasion and literally did not recognize anyone on the screen. Who were all those old people?

The 25th reunion did have its benefits, though, I must admit. Thanks to the people who so kindly organized and mailed a class booklet to everyone, I was able to get in touch with a few folks by email, including one high school classmate who went to the same college as I did. (We had different majors and lived on different ends of campus, so we rarely saw each other until junior year, when we attended the same classics seminar.) I even ended up not-really-dating another classmate for a couple of years. That was bittersweet and confusing, and I'm not entirely sure whether I've lost the friend from that experience or not. We still exchange Christmas and birthday cards, but emails are rare nowadays.

In spite of the fact that I wouldn't attend the 30th reunion if you hitched me to a Hummer and dragged me, I have to admit that I am looking forward to this year's questionnaire. The 25th-year questionnaire precipitated a rare introspective period for me: How does one distill 25 years' worth of living into a couple of paragraphs, so that people who were practically strangers 25 years ago can get caught up as if they were old friends? At that time, I settled for a busy-but-funky approach. When I wasn't at 30,000 feet somewhere over Omaha, I lived near the ocean in a drafty old converted one-room schoolhouse with three Beardies and various foster dogs.

One classmate just emailed me to describe how he copes with the idea that we're old enough to have a 30th reunion. He said he still tries to extract every bit out of juice out of every day, so that he doesn't have to live with regrets later. I like his philosophy.


Pirate said...

My philosophy is simply to be yourself and don't justify the things you do or don't do in your life to anyone. As we're sort of stay-at-home types who don't have cable or satellite, many people think we are anachronistic. Why should I care what people think? We're very happy and content, and that, in the end, is what I will think of when my number is up ...

Sharon said...

I've never attended a hs reunion either. Have no desire to. I wish I seems like a rite of passage I'm missing out on. Oh well. I'll get over it. I think I'll buy a juice extractor. :)