Saturday, November 27, 2004

Maybe in '14...

Today is my 10 year high school class reunion. And I'm not going.

It's not just that it's $70 for a banquet dinner and a cash bar. It's not just that I already had plans for the evening. It's not even that I was just in Rochester for Thanksgiving and going to the reunion would mean having to drive the hour plus back and forth a total of four times in the span of just three days. I mean it is all of those things, but most of all it's that I just have no interest in seeing anyone from my high school class.

I didn't hate high school like some kids hated high school. I wasn't a Columbine-kid-in-waiting or anything. I never got beat up, I didn't get picked on an inordinate amount of times. I wasn't a jock, I wasn't popular, I wasn't "alternative." I just was. Essentially a non-entity. I'm sure if I showed up, maybe a quarter (out of my class of about 550) would remember my name. About half would probably recognize my face (although that looks different now, too). Maybe 10% would look at me and realize that they hadn't thought about me in 10 years. Probably higher than that, actually. A few would come up and say hello, and how am I doing, they're doing great. Got married or have a great job or live in Atlanta. I would have very little of interest to say I'm sure.

I have one friend that I keep in touch with from my high school class. One. I had other friends back then, but my connection to them essentially evaporated after graduation. I still remember my graduation like it just happened. I remember all the people in their red gowns and blue gowns. So many of them were crying. I remember a pretty good male friend of mine coming up to me, eyes welling up with tears, saying, "I can't believe it's over." I nodded and gave a big goodbye bear hug and told him I'd keep in touch, knowing damn well I wouldn't. It was the last time I ever saw him, and it's too bad, because he was a good kid. But even at that moment, I couldn't help thinking, "get me the f**k out of this school."

You can probably many categorize people into two groups: High school people and college people. I was definitely a college person. Nothing wrong with high school people, mind you, but it just wasn't for me. I get a little jealous of people who did really really like going to high school, because I wanted to, and I tried. But instead I used to always get that feeling of dread you get before you go to get a cavity filled. And I got it, more or less, for four years.

I never felt a part of my high school. I still don't really feel like I'm included in that Class of '94 grouping. As if my name was on the roll, but somehow I wasn't actually there. Those years were unbelievably influential in my formation as an "adult" (whether I can yet take the quotes off that last word is still being debated in several circles), but most of the people I hung out with were not actually in my class. I would love to have a huge reunion with all the people who I hung out with when I was in high school, but none of them would be invited to this reunion.

When I went to college, it was hard at first. The first semester was the hardest because of the major transition. At first, I was afraid I wouldn't make any new friends. I'm a pessimist like that. The summer after high school graduation, I always had dreams about walking across wide, bottomless chasms on narrow tightropes. On each ledge would be tall shelves with books. These tightropes took me from classroom to classroom, and this was before I set foot on campus. But that's how overwhelmed I felt at the prospect of leaving home for college. And yes, I know it's only an hour away from home, but for me at that time, I might as well have been in a different time zone.

At first the fact that I did not know one single, solitary person from my high school when I went to college was frightening. But it ended up being the best situation that I could have asked for. Because of my anonymity, I was able to reinvent myself for a new group of people. I didn't have any baggage or any history that I would have to answer for with the new group. Not only could I be myself, but my self changed, now buoyed by a much more supportive group of at-school friends. When you live with someone, you really get to know them, and my floor at Nelligan Hall was extremely tight that first year. I found my niche, for the first time in my life. High school seemed so childish after that.

It's almost a cliche that high school is like its own microcosm of a society. So many kids' social circles consist almost entirely of the people from their schools. And that's why I'd see kids who had endless gaggles of friends traveling around in the hallways and eating in the cafeteria. But how well do you really get to know people by having a couple of classes a day with them? I felt like there weren't that many people from my school who took the time to get to know me. And trust me, I make very bad first-through-fourth impressions. It's around that fifth time that I get ya, usually. But in the on-demand world we live in, most people aren't going to give you that many go 'rounds. This is why "Arrested Development" (the TV show) is probably going to be cancelled, and Arrested Development (the group) won a Grammy or something for that crappy "Tennessee" song. ("A pair of horseshoes. A pair of HORSESHOES!!!") The TV show is hard to get at first, but becomes rewarding once you "get it." The song was accessible but skin-deep.

You would think I am bitter about my high school experience, but I'm truly not. I had a lot of great times during high school, they just usually took place outside the building itself. It's not like if I went to the reunion, I would get drunk and start yelling at the kid who knocked me over in a phys ed lacrosse game or say something rude to the group of girls who laughed at me or any crap like that. But spending time with these people seems to be counterproductive. It would be like a flashback, not to Vietnam, but maybe to an unpleasant date or something.

I remember myself back then, and while I don't dislike that person, that person is no longer me. I feel that if I did go, I would have something to live up to. What, I don't know, but something. Or that I would have to pretend it was good to see people when such a meeting would clearly be mediocre-to-regrettable. And to have to endure the indignity of having to hear how good it is to see me. Please. My parents still live in the same house, if you wanted to get in touch, you could have.

Maybe it's just my own fear of going and having nothing happen. I would hate to think that the four years I spent at high school were of no consequence to others. I'm pretty sure that to be the case, but I'd rather assume I'm just being paranoid of my own insignificance than show up and get real-time confirmation.


JT said...

Maybe Tennessee wasn't but, Mr. Wendell was a good song, damn it!

John "Computer Games" Jitters

'Don' Cialini said...

Wow, excellent serious of thoughts. It pretty much sums up what I would say if I did a blog about this....ironically enough I am that 'one' friend. Maybe a its a testament to the friednship. Of course I would have to substitue college for military, but its all good. And while I like the 'Tennesee' reference, I personally am more scarred and bitter over the fact "Sumertime" won for best rap song in 199whatever. Maybe I will post my thoughts about the reunion we didn't care about in due time. It would be like stealing your topic, but I'll stel your topic and make it bettaaaaa! Well probably not. I'll probably just end up embarrassing myself...but who cares.

SUE said...

Bill! For christsakes man, write up a review of the impromptu reunion from the same night as this blog entry...those high school friends from many different classes that hung out "outside" the bounds of that building, man! And here's to karaoke at Shorts on Thanksgiving.

Phillip Lloyd said...


Great blog you've got going here. If you would like to add any comments on 70s fancy dress in my blog then feel free.

Thanks Again

Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...

i really feel the same about high school. honeslty i haven't kept up with anyone in years