Tonight is my ten year high school reunion.
I am not there.
I admit, originally I decided not to go after looking at the Facebook group for my high school class. Our class president (side note: apparently our class officers get stuck planning every reunion until they die, which I’m not sure they realized when they ran for an office that they probably only wanted because it looked good on a college application) asked us to post updates on our lives for our alumni magazine (which I didn’t even know we had), and the responses would put the Smug Marrieds from Bridget Jones’s Diary to shame. No one was married at the five year reunion, but apparently, people have gotten busy getting married and reproducing in the five years since then. While the five-year was hilariously awkward (seriously, the entire event consisted of people walking around with forced smiles saying, “Hi! How are you? Isn’t this awkward?”), I envision this one as full of people showing off engagement rings and pictures of their kids. And it embarrasses me that not much has changed since I couldn’t get a date in high school—I’d never had a boyfriend then, and now, at twenty-eight, I still haven’t.
That’s not the only reason, though. Another reason is that I just haven’t stayed in touch with many people from high school. Those I have I can keep up with through Facebook, and the rest…well, honestly, I never think about them and don’t particularly care what they’re doing now. And although I wrote an article for the school newspaper at the end of senior year about how high school is what you make of it and how it’s your own fault if you aren’t going to miss anything from high school (I found out from my younger cousin that the health teachers started passing that article out to the freshmen after I graduated), in truth, I haven’t missed high school once since I graduated.
High school was a weird time in my life. Not a bad time. Middle school was awful—I talked about it here, but in middle school, people were really mean to me on a daily basis. The pop culture stereotype is that high school is like that, but it wasn’t for me. The way I remember it, high school was probably the most self-centered times of our lives. We were all trying so hard to get into college that we didn’t have time to think about how weird that kid in our biology class was.
More than anything, when I look back at high school, I remember how busy I was all the time, and I don’t know how I ever got through it. I swam six days a week during the fall and, for a couple of years, several days a week in the winter. I always took multiple honors and AP classes. I sang in the chorus and, senior year, in the treble choir. In the spring, I ran track and was part of the musical cast. I was arts editor of the newspaper, fundraising director of Student Council, and sports editor of the yearbook. I studied for SATs, applied for summer jobs, took driver’s ed, and searched for a prom dress. Maybe you just have more energy when you’re a teenager, but I could never do all of that now. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
And what was the result? Well, I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I didn’t have a lot of people who disliked me, either. I graduated in the top 5% of my class—18 out of a class of something like 367. I wasn’t a great swimmer (senior year, I missed the sectional cut in 100-yard butterfly by 0.17 seconds), but I was respectable—in fact, a friend of Jackie’s from grad school graduated from my high school two years ahead of me, and when I saw her at a party Jackie invited her to, I was surprised when the first thing she said to me was, “You were on the swim team!” I AP’d out of English and math in college (I passed the AP US history exam, too, but it didn’t get me out of anything). And while no one cares about your SATs after age eighteen, I kind of wish that wasn’t the case, because mine were actually good! (740 verbal, 710 math, and while the writing component didn’t exist back then, I got 790 on my SAT II for writing.)
The real result, though, was that I got into Boston College, and in a lot of ways, I feel like my life didn’t begin until then. For the first time, I started breaking out of the sheltered little bubble I’d grown up in. I met the people who became my best friends. I did activities like chorale because I liked them, not because they’d look good on a resume. I learned things that I still remember now, not things I forgot as soon as finals were over. And I had the time of my life, which I got to relive at my five-year reunion.
Middle school was the miserable kind of time that builds character. College was wonderful. But high school was just a time of my life when I was preparing for something better. Now I’m in the something better—and I see no reason to relive the part of my life when I was preparing for it.
I do have some great memories of high school, though, and one of my favorites is how at the end of our class banquet (an event that had dinner and dancing but was much more casual and less stressful than the prom) we all stayed to the end and formed a circle with our arms around each other as we sang along to our class song, Madonna’s “I’ll Remember.” Even though I’m not there, I wish all the best to the people of the class of 2002. I hope you’re having fun tonight.