The last time I even contemplated going to my high school reunion (Fairmont East) was the 25th iteration.
I was terrified.
I went to a high school friend (Mary McCarty) for advice. She was quite helpful. She also wrote about my panic in the local paper (Dayton Daily News).
Here’s what I told her: “Over the last quarter century I’ve confronted and dealt with a number of pieces of my past and tried to make my peace with them. High school, however, is not one of those things.”
Mary did note that “Janet … had more reason than most to be apprehensive. She had been one of those kids too brainy, too head-in-the-clouds, to comprehend how to navigate the social firmament.”
I got my hair done for the event and told my stylist to make me look “successful and sane.” She replied, “Oh, no, here comes the wish list.” “At least I didn’t ask for young and thin,” I pointed out.
I went, taking along my husband and telling him and my dear friend Kathy, who had flown in from the West Coast, not to leave my side. I’m sure the husband came as a surprise to most people there, proof that I had at least managed to navigate that particular social firmament.
I survived it all. My big insight: “Not everyone hated me.”
Mary was much more philosophical: “In adolescence our images are refracted through so many distorted lights – the way we see ourselves, the way everyone else sees us, the way we fancy everyone else sees us. What mattered was that we could all talk face to face, as adults, as equals, as friends.”
It is now approaching time for our 40th reunion. Do you think I am any calmer this time around?
Well, maybe. I don’t have the energy or the attention span to get all worked up about it.
Will I go? Probably not. It’s like the Tower of Terror at DisneyWorld – I did it once and I’m glad I did, but I have no desire to do it again.
Besides, the people from high school that I want to be in touch with – like Mary and Kathy – I still am in touch with, in person or via Facebook.
At this point I have nothing to prove.