Monday, May 17, 2010

You can't go home again; or High School Reunion Time

I interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast to bring this up. You really can't go home again. Yet god knows we try. Memory is what we're made of, our lives are merely compilations of all our remembered experiences. We process, act and react accordingly. This was brought home to me, yet again, at my high school reunion. I was pretty miserable in high school. I've met plenty who weren't. One of my dearest friends was actually voted prom queen. She still has the most infectious smile. I don't hold her good times in high school against her, I envy her. Because of my own experience, I made a conscious choice to move to a place where my children would attend a large, multi-racial public school. I attended a small, tokenly multi-racial private school. The education was stellar. The social life for me, not so much.

I'm not a reunion type of person. This is the second one of any sort I've attended. It's not that I don't like parties, I do. It's that I don't really want to be reminded of who I was then. I moved on and that was a good thing for me. I don't want to remember how I agonized about literally everything I did and felt and said. For me, that was high school and it was such a pleasure to leave, to realize that I could make friends, that I was attractive and smart and funny, or maybe just that I was able to find enough other people who thought I was. I left high school and found people who 'got' me. That's all it takes, a group of peers who make you feel good about yourself because hey, they get your jokes and you get theirs. You laugh at yourselves and at the world, and you make your way in it. That happened for me and I've never wanted to look back or go back. But I did on Saturday night.

It was fine of course. We're all grown ups now. It was a relief that we could all be friendly and chat. But it was also a bit odd for me. I guess it reminded me that it's true, you really can't go home again. And that's a good thing, because in reality, we shouldn't yearn for that. I know Amelia didn't. She couldn't wait to get away from her family. And she spent much of the years after she became famous living at arm's length. That is when she wasn't lecturing or flying. She had no desire to go home again. She'd been there, and definitely done that.

One night is good, it's catch up. But life is like a relationship, (and perhaps a little like a shark) if it doesn't move forward. . .

"A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies."


  1. I guess Amelia couldn't go home again even if she'd wanted to because her family moved around to so many different towns when she was growing up. Not enough time in any one school to get firmly rooted and establish a solid network of friendships. I would think that would make a person withdraw into herself and would account for that "girl in brown who walks alone" inscription in her Chicago high school yearbook.
    I can relate. You couldn't pay me to go through high school again. Life has been so much better afterwards. Sometimes I wonder if something couldn't be done to restructure middle school and high school education so that all those immature and insecure teenagers aren't all thrown together to make each other miserable.

  2. I just got contacted by some old high school friends who want to get together - it's coming up on 40 years. To tell the truth I feel like that was another person who knew them, but I am curious to see what happened to everyone.

  3. There you go, the two sides of the coin. You couldn't pay me enough, which was what I felt up till this reunion and curious to see, which was what I felt this time. In the end, you see which one won out. I'm not sorry I went, not at all. What's odd to me is that everyone is so fully formed, even in high school. And for some it's obviously the highlight of their lives. For the rest of us, thankfully there are other highlights, right? As for Amelia, she did seem to walk alone which definitely served her well.

  4. High school is a horrible memory for me, and I've never even received an invitation for a reunion. I left after 11th grade and became an early admission student at college, and I was glad to escape with one less year of torture. I'm with you mkendrick in having sub-zero interest in a reunion. I'm glad you had the courage to go to yours roseduncan and had a good experience. I'm trying to get myself to do more things that are outside of my comfort zone, and not let fear navigate my decisions. What pops to mind is someone nominated me to be President elect for our local psychiatric association- I never even go to the meetings and I can't imagine who nominated me. My immediate reaction was "when hell freezes over" and then I thought- oh what the hell- and said "yes." Now it dawns on me that I will be hobnobbing with all these super-conservative psychiatrists who may run me out of town if they find out I voted for Obama. Fear, fear, fear city! Should be interesting. Great Woody Allen joke! Pardon my train of free associating here, I'm a bit punch drunk with tiredness.

  5. I guess I just lost another layer of innocence: I'm surprised that the psychiatrists are conservative. I would've thought that the profession leaned to the liberal side. Maybe dealing with dang-cussed patients has made them mean? :)

  6. I think this is even braver than going to a reunion. President elect of any association takes a whole lot of courage. Good luck Colleen. Let me know how it goes, and there's no way they'll be running you out of town. We had their guy for so many years, and look how that worked out. Now it's our turn.