Open Sesame

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of someone who left their past behind like the words High School Reunion.

Honestly, it’s probably the reason why I stayed off Facebook for so long.

And why my Profile still looks like this:

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Don’t get me wrong. My classmates were good people. It was boarding school, and they were just like family. Only better, because NOT family.

It’s hard to describe how much you miss friends like that – such an intimate part of your daily life one day, gone the next.

Even harder when you know a big part of the reason they were ‘gone’ is that you slammed the door.

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Let me put this in perspective.

It was a Christian school, and most of my friends were believers in some sense. But normal, you know?

It was just a part of their lives, along with boy crushes and manicures and torturing the Dean’s pet cat.

Me?

There was Before Graduation. Do gooder preacher girl. On track for sainthood with a scholarship for Theology school firmly in hand.

Then there was After Graduation.

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The about face probably made no sense to anyone but me.

I disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving a trail of burned bridges and lots of rumours in my wake.

Fast forward twenty years and my real and imaginary worlds suddenly collide with a mysterious Friend Request.

Crap, this name sounds familiar, I’m thinking. Who is this? What do they want with me?

My finger hovers over that button like the key rattling Pandora’s box. Open Sesame, a world of hurt to follow…

Sure enough, Class of 1994 has tracked me down. I feel old. Really, really old.

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Flash forward – Michele from ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion’

But there’s something else.

Amidst the fear and regret, anticipation. A longing so deep it bleeds.

I attend the reunion. Despite the fact it’s a breakfast. And I’m not a morning person. And there’s not a drop of alcohol in sight.

What I don’t expect is this – no one really cares!

They’ve moved on. We all have. Important jobs. Partners. Kids. Lives. We’ve all matured. Found our own ways of dealing with the world.

I thought I was going for closure. Instead, what I found was a circle of beautiful people who still want to know me, despite the fact I was an idiot in school our wildly divergent paths.

Will we be best friends again? It’s unlikely. We live on opposite sides of the river, for a start.

Still. There’s a bridge on which to travel now. An open door at the end of it.

And love. Lots and lots of love.

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(Okay. Maybe not that much… :) )

Who were you in high school? Would you go to a reunion?

Comments

  1. says

    Oh my gosh! This sounds very familiar. I was a rebellious hellion at that age. I isolated myself from all my childhood friends because I knew, deep down, that I was going down a path they’d disapprove of. I also disappeared leaving a wake of rumors. I still avoid those people, although I don’t have to try too hard, I don’t run into them often. I have one friend from childhood that I ran into about four years ago. I felt like I had to validate or explain myself, and prove that I was a better person….but you know what? Like your situation, she didn’t care. She genuinely wanted to know me now. Not twenty years ago. Now.

    We still keep in contact.

    • says

      I’ve come to realise it’s probably normal and necessary to distance ourselves at that age, when we’re still trying to figure ourselves out. Funny how we assume everyone else is stuck there in the same place, though, right? Even if they are, life experience tends to mellow all of us. Not sure about you, but I kinda wish I could have a do-over from the point of view of now! :)

  2. says

    I went to a school reunion when I was 38, but only because, after repeatedly saying NO, my friend bought me a ticket, came to my house on the day, and absolutely insisted I go, or he’d miss out on going.
    I hadn’t seen most of those people since I was 14. Most remembered me, quite a few did not. There was a girl there, she was THE Hot Girl at school, and she was one of only two other people got off the bus at my stop — every freaking day. And she didn’t remember me. And at the school reunion, she was trying to take me home with her. And she says, “Who ARE you, it’s driving me crazy!”
    And I say, “I’m that short, ugly weird kid that got off the bus with you every afternoon for the three years I actually went to high school.”
    And she says, “Oh my god, that was you? You’re everything that you weren’t. Wanna get out of here?”
    And I say, “Thanks, but no. I’m already with one shallow woman who hates me, and I’m planning to stay faithful right through the divorce she has planned.”
    And she says, “You haven’t changed at all,” and walks away.
    And I say, “Thanks,” and go back to drinking with my wife’s secret lover.

    • says

      Begs for a ‘back at you, biatchhh’! ;) Question is, was she still hot?

      I’m not sure if it’s a sign of our utter boringness, or well-adjusted-ness, that those of us who turned up to the reunion (with maybe a couple of exceptions) all looked unmistakably the same. It was like, two years had passed, not twenty.

  3. says

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this post Alarna. So very mature and full of wisdom, I think you’ve managed to sum up what every one of us feels about revisiting our past. More than having to see former classmates; I think it’s having to face the shadows of who we we’re then. Like any creature we’ve evolved…and as you beautifully stated, matured, learning how to adapt and survive and find our way of dealing with the world. Each of us have to find our own niche. And life after high school is clearly the time to learn that lesson.

    • says

      Facing our shadows, exactly! Speaking of which…do I recall correctly that Ginger had a reunion a few months back? Did she end up attending? I’d be curious to hear about that…though what’s interesting is what a difference time makes. Ten years would have been too soon for me, but twenty felt right, somehow. I guess it’s different for everyone :) xox

  4. says

    A classic.

    This summer marks 40 years since my high school graduation. I skipped the 30th because I’d just decided to let my hair go gray, but didn’t quite have the balls, well, I’ve never had balls, the boobs, to flaunt it. This year — no word. Maybe all the organizer types are dead.

    Good on you for attending your reunion! What a surprise to find yourself linked to people, just because they knew you at 17 or 18. That was a tender time, and we bond with our fellow sufferers, sometimes in spite of ourselves. Cheers!

    • says

      Lol! And might I say, you wear your grey with style – what a shame you didn’t flaunt it! :)

      Those years are tender…it’s like our future is stuffed into those first formative decades, little particles that accompany us everywhere as we traverse the great unknown. Fellow sufferers, indeed!

  5. says

    What an honest and creative way of sharing this topic with us. High School Reunions. I have never been to one. I understand that about 80 people showed up at my 50th (that’s right) out of a class of 1001. We close doors. We move away and move on and at this age, even pass away. I didn’t have shadows (was voted Most Likely to Succeed) and wasn’t rebellious. My only regret is that I didn’t raise a little hell and leave rumors in my wake. :) I’m so glad you went to your 20th, Alarna. Otherwise you wouldn’t have found that “there’s a bridge on which to travel now. An open door at the end of it .And love. Lots and lots of love.”

    .

    • says

      50th?! Wow, given only 20 out of 60 or so attended this one, I don’t hold out much hope for a 50th! But fascinating that you never felt inclined to go…I wonder if it’s just those of us with unfinished business who do bother? Either way, I should say, raising hell is over-rated! :) xo

  6. says

    I’m so glad you went and that it was good. I wonder what made you do an about face after graduation (you left that part out). I am exactly 10 years ahead of you and just back from my 30th (but also my first) reunion and I had such a good time. I reconnected with a dear friend I’ve been dreaming about for years and was delighted by several other people too. I forgot who they were and who I was when I knew them, but it all came rushing back and I felt young again. So effing fun. What were we afraid of? That’s what I want to know.

    • says

      Oh..you noticed that slight omission? ;) It’s like a massive overgrown hedge I keep walking around, wondering where and how to start. So happy to hear that you went, and had a blast, and reconnected! I wonder if those dreams will stop now… What were we afraid of? Really, I have no idea…

  7. says

    Not been to a reunion yet, just have never been in or near the district when they’ve come around.
    Not sure who I was while there, a bit of a tangled mess, perhaps an unknown. Never really gave a lot away. A breakfast sounds cool though…

  8. says

    Phew! I am so glad that it turned out to be a fun and positive experience. I was just having that exact conversation with my 18 year old daughter who is graduating in June. She has noticed that these past couple of weeks everyone seems nicer, more agreeable and not afraid to cross-groups and talk to students they were not friends with. She was commenting that there are people she wishes she had gotten to know better but that they just didn’t really try. I explained to her that this happens as you are graduating from high school. You realize that everyone shares similar experiences and values and that it was stupid all these past years to have judged others, limiting yourself to only a certain group. I told her that the same thing happens when you go to reunions.

    My experiences with reunions have been very positive, particularly because many of them have included multiple classes getting together at once. The same thing happens on Facebook. This is one very favorable aspect of social media! :)

    • says

      Cool conversation to being having with your daughter! I can’t imagine that happening in my day…she has a wise mother. But I know what you mean – the weirdest part of the reunion for me was seeing people again who I knew but didn’t really know back then. Not having a common ground to start from and wondering why. Probably less of a problem for extroverted types like you…I’d have needed more time and alcohol to break that ice! :)

  9. says

    All anyone saw of me from about sixteen on was the back of my dad’s old Ford pickup truck, exiting the school parking lot. I remember almost nothing about high school and I’m glad about that. I’ll never go back.

    • says

      Hmmm, some things are probably best kept there, locked away in sepia. I bet you could remember, if you wanted to, but why dredge it all up if there’s no need? Sometimes, I wish I would forget…

  10. says

    Great Story Alarna…I have never been invited to a high school reunion but cannot imagine going for all the reasons you identified. How lovely that you re-discovered old friends and found that they, like you, had moved on, matured and become interesting people. Kim

  11. says

    Dang, Alarna, I love your perspective not these kinds of issues! Romi and Michelle’s High School Reunion is a riot! My girls and I loved that movie and the girls are great at doing impersonations, which always amuse the heck out of me. (I’m easily amused.)

    Who on the committee decided to make it a breakfast with no alcohol? Definitely not Romi or Michelle! What I love about the night time reunion events is the lighting. Hey, dimmer light boosts and old fart’s confidence enough that a we can stop stressing about our flaws and wrinkles and actually connect with old friends and have a great time. One little old beer is enough to relax me enough to approach classmates I really didn’t know in high school. It’s always great to make new friends that we somehow missed connecting with back in high school. The reunion gathering is never long enough to talk to all the peeps I want to talk to, hear their story, how life’s been treating them. Each person has a treasure of stories and experiences just waiting for someone to listen to and skip down Memory Lane.

    I have my 40th reunion coming up in October. I’ve gone to all my reunions – the 10th, 20th, 30th, and soon the 40th. I’m looking forward to it and hope I can recognize who’s who. Each decade does its thing to our appearance. Not fair! But, hey, at least we’re still here and able to attend. It makes me sad when I hear of classmates who have passed on. That’s one of the hardest parts, but such is life. Thanks for sharing this post. Again, I love your take on the whole thing. Love your humor! Fun blog post, sweet cyber daughter!

    • says

      Cyber Mum! So lovely to see you :) Romy and Michele… who doesn’t love those two?! I had a great deal of fun looking through all the pics and quotes with all their clever quirky one liners. I will have to see it again one of these days!

      Dim lighting! I hadn’t even thought of those benefits, but yes – if a future one is organised, I’ll make sure to recommend an evening function! Pretty sure we all won’t look so young by then. This year it was timed on the same weekend as the school’s 50th anniversary, so I think they didn’t want to clash with any other events going on.

      It really is the year of reunions this year – you’re only a little way ahead of me ;) So cool that you’ve been to all of them! The passage of time sure blows one’s mind if you think about it too long. Goodluck in October – I hope we hear about it then :) xox

  12. says

    I despised high school, and I can’t stand the fact they ask me for money all the time. It was a boarding school heavy on athletics, and I was a day student who couldn’t play sports due to a knee injury. Nothing like being a black sheep, I tell you.

    I’m glad your reunion was better than you thought. It is amazing to see where everyone ends up years later.

  13. says

    I’m glad you enjoyed your school reunion Alarna. I would probably be very stressed but I think I would go to my school reunion, although there’s the minor problem of oceans separating countries! We had one after 5 years but I didn’t feel anyone had really changed.

    • says

      In some ways, I’m not sure we change all that much as we get older. We do, but we don’t. Five years doesn’t seem like much time, at any rate. Looks like you have the perfect ‘out clause’ for your reunion ;)

  14. says

    I woul dlove ot catch up with the people with whom I was at (boarding) school. I see one regularly – a close friend then and rediscovered a few years later. I moved a few times and dodn’t get onto changing my address with school so, if there has been a reunion after the ten year I did attend, I missed it – sadly. I think I shall right now see if I can update online – I haven’t tried for years and they were, oddly, still using paper mail when I last looked. Thanks for the impetus.

    • says

      Ah, typos…no matter! I’m glad this gave you some inspiration to go looking – it’s even more complicated with boarding school, because everyone is spread out to begin with. I hope you find your classmates! :)

  15. says

    Alarna I love your take on this, I never went to one, cringe at the thought……. but recently went back to the town I grew up in and caught up with old old friends at a fiftieth. We had not seen each other in years. Even though it was great to catch up I knew it would probably be another fifty years until we see each other again lol. Life keeps moving on and we leave our pasts behind. I was the one that never wanted to marry and wanted to see the world. Well eventually I turned soft, met my match and the travel bug left too. Happiness is a hot cup of tea and watching the kiddies playing outside and people still remind me that I swore I would never leave Newtown and the city life for anything. Thats what I love about life it surprises me all the time.

    • says

      Fascinating, Kath, how life takes you down unexpected roads. Did you travel before you met your match? Maybe you got it out of your system, and needed to try on a different ‘you’. At any rate, it would be pretty boring if life only ever turned out as we imagine it. Your current bliss sounds pretty good to me – though I haven’t yet satisfied the travel itch!

  16. says

    My high school doesn’t exist anymore. I wonder if I’d go to a reunion if they had them? I think it’s great you had a positive experience. So true how some of the things I worried/cared about in high school really just don’t matter all that much anymore!

  17. says

    Funny, because I never really heard a peep about my 10 year reunion a few years ago. I had moved around a bit, but nobody ever tracked me down. I suppose it’s because I was never in any sort of clique. I was in drill team/color guard, so I was kind of a band nerd. But then I was a hippie/rebel too.

    Oh, well. Guess I’ll keep doing my nondescript thing. : )

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