High school. To play upon Chris Bell's brilliant renouncement of Tom De Lay at the recent Senate District 11 caucus, high school is like herpes: the angst that keeps on giving.
Lest I sound like some loser or moron who agonizes over something that was half my lifetime ago (or so), I didn't really think about high school for years and years and years. I'd add another 'years' but it just makes me feel old(er).
But high school has resurfaced in my mind recently and there are a few good reasons.
It's on my mind today because Her Bad Mother (who could use some warm fuzzies today, I think) started a writing prompt about prom. Yes, that's my prom photo above. It's the only one of me without the boy in it, and it would be no good to make him an innocent bystander victim by including him in this blog.
(My prom, in brief, as if you care: Went with boy was dating at time; was broken-hearted because I felt ditched by good friend who went with her boyfriend's crowd; rallied because went with other friends; dropped mom's diamond earrings down sink; saved the ass of friend who ditched me when I caught her before she went out into lobby with dress tucked into her pantyhose and she swore I was her BFF; the highlight of the night was dancing by myself to Dancing By Myself. It was just another day and dance with everyone in pouffy taffeta with frouffant hair, the same old people I saw at school every day, only drunker, and so fraught with anticipation and expectation that there was no way it could be as enjoyed as a regular event. I remember thinking: I cannot wait to blow this joint.)
But high school is on my mind now because it's my twenty year reunion.
Was it really that long ago?
That---this---brings up a wealth of pondering the present against perusals of the past.
In a conversation about high school reunions today, I ended with the question, "But can one weekend reunion really provide the closure and relieve the leftover complexes?"
Isn't that sort of creating another prom-like situation, fraught with such anticipation that it can't possibly meet expectation?
I asked that question because whenever high school reunion conversations come up, people who advocate going usually promote the following three points:
1. It's so good to reconnect with people, all of whom are all grown up and nice now.
2. It really lays a lot of the past to rest.
3. It's fun. Cut loose! Footloose!
(Okay I got a little off-track there. Nobody bursts into old Kevin Bacon movie theme songs. Usually.)
See, here's my feeling: people and dynamics rarely change. We grow, we move on, hopefully we mature, behave better, and so forth. Even so, at heart, we are who we are, and when we get together with people we knew at a certain time in life, aren't we likely to revert to the old dynamic? Isn't that even more likely if the last time you saw one another was back then?
I joined that Classmates.com site. I've looked around. People pretty much look the same. What makes me think they'd be any different, that I'd be any different?
The truth is, most of my classmates weren't horrible or evil. Many were quite nice. In general, a lot of nice people tried to fly under the radar and stick to their happy niches. They were smart. I wasn't quite so smart. This made me vulnerable, especially because, as is the case in any high school, some classmates were really unnecessarily mean, with that entitled arrogance some girls (and boys, to be fair) always seem to have and carry through life.
I can't actually even blame them, though, for the part of me that hated high school. What I really hated was how I acted in high school; that is to say, I was a compromise of myself, and not really me. I simply wanted to get along and not be ridiculed.
In order to do that, I tried very hard to do acceptable things, things that made me happy or happy enough and that would render me acceptable by my peers. In one of those twists that life often offers, this frequently set me up to feel worse about myself.
It all goes back to this concept of want and need, and how you can't always get what you want. I wanted to be more important rather than less important. And I wasn't. Hell hath no fury like a thwarted teen.
In all this trying, I missed out and lost out on some real good, and probably made quite a jackass of myself at times. I certainly wasn't as good a person as I could have---or should have---been.
Most importantly, it established a really horrible pattern.
When I completed high school I ran along my merry way and made no attempt whatsoever to keep in touch with anyone from my class. A few made an attempt here or there with me, and some I kept crossing paths with at the university. However, by and large, few people kept in touch or even tried. I imagine it was a combination of (a) other people I knew best made the decision to go as firmly as I did, and (b) the friendships simply weren't that firm, and combined with immaturity, youth, and dividing life paths, we all moved on. From one another. See, once free of high school, I thought I could really leave it all behind by having no contact whatsoever with it.
What I didn't leave behind, though, were my complexes and patterns I graduated with, and so, there was a lot of lather, rinse and repeat that made me wonder if anyone ever really left high school (figuratively). In the end, I was actually the one trapped there.
With time, I am letting go of bad lessons of high school. All around me is the continual opportunity to fall back into the bad patterns and complexes, and in a loose sort of way, it's a bit like any kind of addiction: mind over matter, new techniques, healthy substitutions, and so forth.
So with the fragile newness of the recovering, I'm loathe to walk back into the very situation that spawned it.
It's not all high school's fault. It was a perfect storm, in a way. My complexes, their patterns. I'm sure there are wonderful and interesting people there. I'm sure people who go will have fun. Some may even re-connect with old friends.
But that re-begs to the same question I asked earlier: to what end?
Why go? Many of the people I actually liked in high school are on the "where are they now?" list of missing. I can imagine that, like me, they intentionally left high school behind, in the past, but I wonder if unlike me, they actually managed to leave it behind.
If I thought that going would really be any kind of fun or lay to rest any old outstanding whatevers, I'd go. If I thought that my presence or absence would matter significantly, I'd go. Deep down, though, I suspect it won't.
What could I give? What could I get?
In truth, I expect that now, as back then, probably? It's still not a fit for my life. I've got plenty of more important now, and a good deal of it probably falls on the very same weekend.
That doesn't mean I've made up my mind, though. LOL
What do you think? What did you do with high school and reunions?
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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