Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why My 20th High School Reunion Matters to Me

I'm going to be honest, I didn't love high school.


My birthday is at the end of October (but I was reading at a high school level as a first grader, so they started me in first grade when I was probably too young), so I was significantly younger than most of my classmates and never really felt like I fit in.  In fact, my closest friends in school were not in my class at all.

I always felt like my sense of humor, my sweet nature, and my ravishing beauty were lost on many of the people in my graduating class.  In large part, it's because I went through a pretty traumatic time in 6-8 grade when my parents were going through an extremely acrimonious divorce and I burned a lot of bridges and had a terrible attitude.

Anyway, I had no interest in reunions before this one.  I put on a lot of weight as a coping mechanism to a trauma that happened when I was twenty-one (my life has apparently been trauma-ridden ... I'm rarely bored, though ;-)), none of the people I wanted to hang out with would be there anyway, I was only a teacher and not some international world traveler or working for a Fortune 500 company, I didn't fit in with "those people", and blah blah blah. (Evidently my bad attitude followed me into adulthood)  

I kept waiting for someone to do something about the 20 year reunion, one of those people who seemed so on top of it in high school, who things seemed to come to so effortlessly.

A couple of things happened to me, you see, that have changed my attitude, my life, my priorities, and so on.

First, I almost died giving birth to Gabrielle in December.  In fact, technically I died twice.  That sort of experience changes a person.

Secondly, I am in the process of being diagnosed with a "progressive" disease.  It's a disease people die from, but they usually suffer a lot first.  Over a long period of time.  Yeah, I'm not super excited.  What I am, though, is ready to enjoy life while I can.  I'm ready to make up for the lost time I missed due to bad attitude and traumas.

I've found through Facebook that many, many people in my graduating class are kind, funny, caring people.  I was foolish to think otherwise.  And once you've become friends through Facebook, it seems stupid not to carpe the freaking diem when an opportunity like a twenty-year reunion comes up.

Finally, I am out of work until the next school year.  In addition to being destitute and stressing about mortgage payments and doctor co-pays, I am starting to become bored.  This reunion has given me something to focus my energies on during Gabrielle's naps and my puppy Howard's walks.

It has been fantastic therapy.

I believe in the power of positive thinking, although I didn't always.  I am excited about this reunion and hope that everybody goes.  It would mean a lot to me personally, and I think the friendships I have seen develop on Facebook speak to how wonderful it would be to get together.

Each day is a gift, after all.

I am not writing this for pity, by the way.  I have three wonderful children that I will brag lots about at the reunion, a kind and loving husband, a puppy that keeps me busy, a career that I love, a mother/siblings/nephews that I see all the time, and an appreciation for the small things in life that I never before possessed.

Also, I write a lot.  Being a writer has always been my dream, and this blog goes back to 2009 (and I've gotten to write for some other people and places as well, which is a treat).

I just wanted everyone to know why I, who was never exactly "involved", am spearheading this reunion (with lots of help!), and why I very much want everyone to try to come.  If you were on the fence about going and this played a role in swaying you, it was certainly worth writing.

For those of you not in my graduating class ("the intended 'audience' of this piece," says the English teacher in my head), what are your thoughts on reunions?  Good, bad, or ugly?  Necessary evil?  Why do some people choose to go, and some people choose to "sit it out"?