My 20 Year High School reunion is taking place in Palmer, Alaska this weekend, but I won’t be there. I was planning to go, in fact I was looking forward to this reunion. I wanted to show off my daughter, and introduce my husband to the people who were such an important part of my past.
It didn’t work out. Why doesn’t matter, although money was no small part of the consideration.
I find it interesting how my feelings in anticipation of this event changed over the past few years. Several years ago, when looking forward to the reunion it was all about comparison. I was anxious about seeing my classmates. I was lucky in love, but the tides had turned financially and I was no longer bringing in the big bucks. How would I stack up against my classmates and their achievements? I didn’t have a beautiful house, or a cabin on the lake, or money – or time – for vacations. How would I fare in the competition of “Who’s got the best life?”
Then MySpace happened, which was quickly followed by the even better Facebook. My classmates joined up one after another, hunting down other classmates and cajoling them to sign on as well. A circle of friends grew. We were interacting with each other in a way we never had before. Looks didn’t matter. Those extra 40 pounds were irrelevant. As we shared baby pictures and survey results, built farms together and challenged each other to scrabble games and mafia wars, friendships reconnected and new ones grew irrespective of the cliques that existed during our high school days.
At our ten year reunion we showed up, showed off, exchanged email addresses, and promptly got back to our lives once the reunion was over. Few of us stayed in touch. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time and I’m glad I went. But I suspect this reunion will be different.
This time we reconnected before the reunion. Over the past couple of years we’ve shared each other’s trials and triumphs. We’ve cared about each other in specific ways: hoping a job interview goes well, a healthy baby (or grandbaby), a big cross country move, and a cancer diagnosis. We stopped being a generalized and generic collective and, by interacting with each other through Facebook, became a collection of individuals. Competition matters less (unless you’re playing Scrabble against Liz), those 40 extra pounds matter less, the paycheck matters less, the living arrangements matter less.
What really matters is who you are when you sit down and start typing. Are you real? Do you give a shit? And, remember when…
So I’ll be thinking of you this weekend Palmer High School Class of ’89. And when you get back home, I’ll still be on Facebook, awaiting your updates, and photos, and maybe a cherry tree for my farm.
On a side note: What do you do with a 20+ year old woolen letter jacket? I know the streets are crowded with people who will desperately need a coat this winter, but this coat is so tied up in my identity (not to mention that my name is embroidered all over it), it doesn’t feel right to hand it over to just anyone. It still fits. Maybe I’ll wear it this winter and see if it makes me feel younger.
One year ago: The Hammock