I went to my 30th high school reunion last night. It's the first one I have been to. I haven't stayed in touch with more than one or two people, so it was an interesting experience.
I went to a very large suburban high school in a fairly wealthy area. My graduation class was over 700 people. It was filled with cliques, and I didn't really fit in anywhere.
I didn't have a good time in high school. I felt very different, an outside trying desperately to be an insider. I had a job from the time I was 15, and that left very little time for typical high school activities like clubs, sports or socializing. I dated very little, and usually only a few dates with any one person.
Wanting to fit in, I tried to hide large parts of my self. I pretended I was dumb, as much as possible. I even shaved points off my own test scores, getting a few wrong on purpose, so I wouldn't get 100s. I don't think anyone knew I was addicted to reading, and read just about everything I could get my hands on. I definitely hid my love of sci-fi/fantasy/comic books.
I desperately wanted to be blond, wear the right clothes, have the right boyfriend, go to parties and be cool.
Last night was fun. I got to see what 30 years does to change some things. And how some things don't change at all. I watched the cool girls, who pretended I didn't exist back then, still look right through me. 30 years ago, I found that crushing. Now I was kind of amused. Some of these women seemed so sad, so pathetic. I saw how some people blossomed, and some withered. The surprise successes and the equally shocking failures. Some folks hadn't seemed to grow or develop at all. In 30 years.
There were people I couldn't recognize at all, even though I knew them. And the same was true in reverse. There were people who remembered me, that I could not recall; and people I knew, who didn't remember. Some folks really did not age well at all; others looked better than they had in high school. It was like some vast science experiment -- we applied 30 years to this group, and here is what happened. Fun to observe, at least in the abstract.
I had been dreading going, really regretting that I had decided I needed to go. But I really did enjoy it. I loved the feeling that I was free. High school really is over and done with. The yardstick I used then measured all the wrong things and I could finally toss it out.