A few weeks ago, I saw a notification on Facebook that caused my eyebrows to raise in suspicion: Someone had added me to my high school's reunion planning group. Who remembers me from high school? After pondering that one a moment, I clicked on the group.
The first thing I noticed was how many people's profile pictures were of babies or toddlers -- at least 40%. Another 40% of the thumbnail photos in the group were of wedding pictures, which was less surprising to me. It's been almost ten years since we graduated, so I expected that many of my classmates would be married. In fact, having just been married myself two months ago, my own profile picture showed me smiling in my wedding dress. What I hadn't expected though, was that the kid I remember most for humping orange traffic cones at the bus stop was now the father of a beautiful baby boy. Hopefully cone humping isn't genetic.
The remaining 20% were mostly of people's faces that didn't even spark a hint of recognition.
The few names that matched the faces I did remember all had a running theme: They were the "cool" kids, the popular ones, and they were the people fighting the hardest to get everyone to come together -- fighting being the key word. I spent nearly an hour reading through one vicious thread where a heated argument broke out over whether it was reasonable to ask families with children to pay for a cruise. Insults were hurled, feelings were hurt. Most of this was seemingly done by toddlers, if the profile pictures were to be trusted.
It fascinated me, seeing the apparent transition of my former classmates. The people I remembered -- rich kids who drove expensive cars and spent their weekends getting drunk at parties to which I was never invited -- were now middle class parents arguing over the cost of baby sitters. Did I mention this is my ten year reunion?
The group had, at most, twenty to thirty active members (out of a class of over 300) comprised of people I highly doubt would remember me. I remembered them, of course, because even back then, I recognized I would never be like them. And I'm incredibly grateful for that.
I was the fat girl with the big curly hair who got good grades. The one who let the high school quarterback cheat off her tests, because he'd put his arm around me in the hall when no one was around. A pre-makeover rom com cliche.
Thankfully, I wasn't cruelly made fun of. It's a miracle that the worst teasing I got was the occasional whispered comment on my non-designer clothes or the soccer team taking turns jokingly asking me out. Maybe it was my sense of humor, or that I never covered my papers. I'll never know. But when I see the reports on the news these days about kids killing themselves over vicious bullying, I shudder to think what could have been.
Even though my classmates weren't exceptionally cruel, I have no intention or desire to attend my reunion.
Unlike the alumni planning the reunion, I have no reason to. I still live in the same city where I attended school. In the age of Facebook, I can keep in contact with anyone I want to see without having to drive to an airport hotel and don a name tag. It took me all of one hour to see the answers to most stale reunion questions anyway; "Yes, I'm married." "Yes, I have kids." "I work for blah blah in blah blah."
My lack of desire to attend has nothing to do with the fact that, nearly a decade later, I'm still the fat girl with big curly hair (probably a little fatter). While that used to be something I desperately fought against, it's something I now accept while I work towards being healthy, rather than being a size two.
Most importantly, though, I have no desire to relive my high school days. Not because they were especially painful or hard, but unlike the "cool" kids planning the reunion, these were hardly my glory days. For them, what was four years of fun was for me, four years of discovery. Learning what it meant to accept that I'd never be "the hot girl" or the "cool girl," but the "smart" girl (and occasionally the "funny" girl). I'm grateful for that period of self-acceptance now, but those aren't the types of memories one wants to hash out over a fruit and cheese plate.
The more distance I felt from my classmates, the brighter the light grew at the end of that four-year tunnel. When I finally threw my cap into the air at graduation nearly ten years ago, those tears that came to my eyes weren't out of sadness for leaving. They were out of joy at what was ahead.
Don't get me wrong, I don't hate anyone that I graduated with and in fact, I almost always enjoy the occasional run-in that happens at the grocery store or local coffee shop. It's just that I prefer my memories of high school to be just that -- memories. If my former classmates want to turn the past into the present, then I wish them the best. I just won't be joining.
All that said, I'm glad that someone added me to the Facebook group. Scrolling through those threads reminded me of my favorite part of high school -- the realization that after four years, it ends.
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