I have a strong aversion to high school reunions. I have never been to one and never intend to go to one. (Touch wood). Why would I want to meet up for a few hours with a bunch of people with whom I had nothing emotional in common? I was a bit of an outcast then, why would I want to subject myself to meeting up again with people who made me feel that way?
An article in Psychology Today mentions the fear and loathing of high school reunions: “It’s common for high school reunions to trigger anxiety about appearance and status. Most of us want to forget our teenage self-conscious emotions that resulted from hormonal changes and social pressures. But years later, at a class reunion, those old insecurities get triggered. They rear their ugly head in the imagined judgment of peers: What will they think? Will I be successful enough? Will I look good to them?”
My question is: Then why on earth go? I had been avoiding attempts to lure me to these reunions, deleting emails from reunion organizers requesting I add more details to a contact list of grade 12 classmates (someone unfortunately scavenged my work email from the web).
I once teased B, deadpanning, “Why don’t we go? I’ll introduce you as my wife and enjoy the reaction!”
She only gave me one of those eloquent looks that told me where to stuff that remark.
In 2010 I had a “Time for another reunion!” email again. This time I hesitated before stabbing delete, after all, it was to be the 35th reunion. The organizer of this event was a woman who, for some of my primary school years, had lived in the house opposite ours and I remembered playing cricket with and boxing against her two brothers more than I remembered her. I’ll call her Leonora.
I told B about the reunion plans and mentioned my memories of the games we had played in the street between our houses.
“Why don’t I give her a call and invite her over? I see she lives locally now.” B was peering over my shoulder at the contact list.
“I didn’t like her,” I grumbled.
“She might have changed,” B reasoned. “You might become friends.”
Somehow I relented and Leonora was invited to tea.
Suffice to say, I still did not like Leonora and after she saw that I had a female life partner, she dissolved from my life again. But her brief appearance proved to be for a reason, as she had a new list with contact details of most of our grade 12 classmates. On this list I found the name of a friend whose friendship I treasured and had been looking for since we had lost contact in 1975. We started emailing and soon could take up the threads of a friendship that had unraveled through circumstance and time.
It was to this friend I could explain my need to have top surgery. And her simple “I get it” reply was affirmation enough for me that she had accepted me for who I am.
Sometimes even high school reunions have a purpose.
Note: While polishing this post, I checked my email. I stared in disbelief at the new email: “Reunion for Class of ’75.” Next year will be the 40th – without me.