bowling for soup was right

Apparently, "high school never ends."

This afternoon, the administrative assistant in my office forwarded me this email with the subject line, "some help please". So I'm thinking it's job related - that a student is interested in starting a chapter and would like some assistance getting things underway. Common question. Then I open the email, and read this:

"I am trying to get in touch with a lady named (sleepeybear) who is listed on your website as (the awesome position I have in the company). We went to high school together and there is about to be a 10 year reunion but noone has been able to contact her, so I was asked to try and I came across her on your website. I would greatly appreciate your help either by giving me an email address or forwarding this email to her so that she can contact me if she likes. We were good friends in high school and although a lot of time has passed I would really like for her to be aware.

(best friend from high school)"

First of all, I was quite surprised to hear that nobody has been able to contact me. My parents still have the same house (with the same address and the same phone number) that I lived in during high school. It truly could not have been THAT difficult to drop a note in the mail or leave a message on the phone! But we'll set that small piece of silliness aside to focus on the main dilemma.

Let's start by saying that me going to the reunion is completely not happening. Mainly because I do not feel like "catching up" with a group of people whom, for the most part, I have not seen or spoken with since the day I graduated.

It wasn't that I didn't like the people I went to high school with, or anything that dramatic. We just didn't keep in touch. Sure, there were a few people (like the best friend who sent the above email) that I maintained relationships with for a little while...but unlike most of the people I graduated with, I chose not to go to UK, EKU, Western, Louisville or some other in-state school. I went off to North Carolina and in a way, never really looked back. (And yes, I have theories of why my brain worked like that...but the psychobabble would distract from the matter at hand!) The short story is that I find it really hard to be excited about seeing all those people again. Because honestly? Here are the facts of my life in the past ten years:

- moved to North Carolina
- earned a bachelor's degree that I will most likely never use
- did a lot of dating in college before finding the guy I thought was "the one"
- spent a year in Boston to earn my master's degree that I do use
- married that guy
- moved with him to the lovely state of Texas
- got my first "career-oriented" job
- started working for my fraternity
- got divorced
- moved to the even lovelier state of Pennsylvania

That's what the past decade of my life would look like to these two hundred people. What I could never explain in a hundred nights of reunions is what the past ten years have really been for me: a time to grow into the person I'm striving to figure out what I really want in
opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people, and develop dear friendships with them...the chance to love, to lose and to recover...the ability to realize that I am so much more than the idealistic, naive, nerdy, socially clumsy, fashion challenged girl that I was then. So I don't feel that compulsion to celebrate the good ol' answer the same questions about my life a hundred see the high school boyfriend and relive some very painful, awkward teenage say, "it's so good to see you again" and feel a little fake since I've not missed any of these people. I just don't have it in me to do the whole reunion thing.

"So if I feel that strongly about not attending," you're asking, "what's the dilemma?" My dilemma involves the email itself. The polite side of me says I should respond to my former best friend, and respectfully decline any interest in the reunion. The spiritual side of me says I should accept this as an opportunity - that this connection has been made now for a purpose. The private side of me says to just ignore it, that to respond would open the door to relationships I'd long ago laid to rest, and that if I respond (even to decline) I'll only be inviting the very questions and platitudes and niceties I'm trying to avoid by not going, and via email at that. I just can't seem to figure out what the best thing to do is, or whether the best thing is the right choice for me. For my life, as it is now.

Where I am: Home


Coonrod said…
Hm... my immediate reaction is at least write the old friend back and tell her you can't make it. This may stem from my friend, though, whose planning a reunion for our high school and is losing his mind because he's having trouble contacting so many people. But sometimes those connections are fun to re-make; you talk for minute, say 'hi' on Myspace, and that's it. It's fun to talk again, and then you don't have to continually pursue it. Just a quick, harmless catch-up. And hell, if you do end up talking and re-connecting and all that jazz, it could at least be fun.

Of course, I've got a slighted opinion. I'm still close to a bunch of friends from high school. So my life isn't in the same place as yours. At the same time, a lot of mistakes I've made in life stem from saying, "This is where my life is and that means I should do this," and suddenly realizing, "Oh wait, who cares, that doesn't matter." (Re: end of Garden State.) So my opinion may be completely biased. But just thought I'd chuck my two cents into the ring.
Karen said…
I am a HUGE believer in the thought, "if I wanted to keep in touch with you high school type people, I would already be doing so." I always thought it would be more fun to go to the reunion and just sit in the parking lot. That way, I could watch the now-fat cheerleaders and unemployed quarterbacks amble into the dance hall. I could appreciate the stereotypical things that should be happening at a reunion without having to fake it.

I'm no good at faking interest in people like that. It would not be that good to see them again. They judged me and pigeon holed me one way when we were in high school and nothing I've done in the last 10 years will change that.

3 years after graduation, I had a summer school class with a guy I knew from back then. He wasn't paying attention (go figure) and noticed my tattoo. He totally freaked out. Apparently, I was not the type of girl in high school who would go out and get a tattoo. He just couldn't wrap his head around it.

It made me sad to watch his preconceived idea of the person he thought I was, crumble. (And secretly I laughed my ever loving ass off.)

But I'm not the same person I was then, which I'm very happy about. And who am I to break their vision of me as a geeky 18 year old?

I'm not all that excited about my reunion either (Which should be in the spring, but no one has gotten anything about it). My suggestion for you is to lie. I know it's not in your nature, but write her back and say, "Hi it's nice to hear from you. Reunion? Has it been that long? No, I won't be able to make it because my fabulous job will be sending me to Hawaii that weekend. But it was good to hear from you." Then let her e-mails fade.

Just because you were friends at 17 doesn't mean you have to be friends for life. Now the friends you have now, they're for life. Not that, I'm saying names...*coughmecough*. Heh.

Good luck, and let me know what you decide to do with the high school e-mail.

P.S. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that new BFS song. LOVE.
Anonymous said…
A while ago you made a list and made some interesting predictions about the future. Some people didn't exactly become lawyers and engineers on that list. Just thought you might like an update from a brand new Mercedes driving Doctor.
The Rube said…
Here's my two euros:
Go to the reunion. I had the same exact thoughts you did when deciding whether or not to attend my reunion last year. Turns out, the people that I thought were jackasses in high school were, for the most part, not as jackassy as I remembered. Those that were, well, got a quick handshake and that's all. Then there were the friends that I had forgotten about and the classmates that I wish I had. I remade some old connections (which will eventually be lost once again) and remembered why I decided to forget others.

What I thought was interesting was finding out what everyone was doing these days. Turns, I probably had the coolest job out everyone (not important, mind you, just cool). Not everyone has a picture perfect life. Actually, no one does, and not once did I feel like I was being judged for what people percieved me to be in high school. I think my misconception was thinking that I was the only one who had spent the past ten years growing up. We are all adults now and it was nice speaking to them as equals, with only the shadows of our past there to remind us of the silliness of high school.

Of course, if you really don't want to go, then don't go. All I'm saying is that I thought I'd leave after 30 minutes and I ended up staying for four hours, and then grabbing a couple beers with a bunch of them afterwards. People do change and it's sometimes worth seeing how much.

My two euros are up and I'm out of change. Guten nacht!

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