I just finished a cute, and apropos, book called Time Flies by Claire Cook. It’s about Melanie, a recently divorced woman on her way to her high school reunion. My reunion (that I am happily skipping) is in November so I empathized with Melanie’s quandaries. When she gets an email from her ex-boyfriend, she looks through her yearbook and realizes she doesn’t remember most of them and other than a few best friends, only vaguely remembers the others. She flirts with the ex via email and decides he is reason enough to attend. She eventually learns that imagination is so much better than reality and he is an ex for a reason.
While the actual reunion is a minor plot point, the events leading up to it are more interesting. And that is exactly where I find myself. At age 48, my life is so much more interesting than getting together with people I don’t know, barely know, or cut out of my life for reasons. Like Melanie, I spent some time looking at names on the facebook group and I honestly couldn’t remember 95% of them. Of the ones I do remember, it’s either because we were great friends or because I couldn’t stand them. I’m actually only personally involved with a handful of people anymore. While I’m still facebook friends with several, it is because I like who they are now, not because I remember anything about them from high school.
I had one friendship of 25 years that ended six years ago when I got tired of her judging my life and particularly my parenting, one of 37 years that ended after the election. I have one of 38 years that is still going strong. Whether they are still active friends or not, the point is that I stay in contact with the people who mean something to me.
Maybe reunions are great for people who went to schools that weren’t so deeply divided into cliques, but my high school was passionately divvied up into immutable circles. Although I’ve had several people tell me that things are different and people change, my ten year experience was that yes, people change but generally not for the better. The assholes became more asshole-ish, the bitches bitchier. People I was relatively friendly with had so many issues, it wasn’t worth getting caught up in the toxicity. I went back because I thought I was in a good place in my life, but going from personal success to being treated like the socially ostracized geek girl that I had been was more than a little jarring. It took me six months to emotionally recover from a six hour experience.
I’m not saying people can’t change. I know they can. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, let alone 30, or even 20, years ago. But it took decades of effort to get here and I just don’t see 200 people putting in that much effort. As for me now? I’m far from perfect, but I am finally happy with who I am, where I am, what I am doing. I don’t need to show up or show out. When I’m asked if I’m going to the reunion, I truly mean it when I say, “No thanks, I’m good.”