Wednesday, September 17, 2014

40 Years . . .

My 40 year high school reunion is in two weeks. There will be a gathering.  It's highly unlikely that I will attend.  High school . . .   I would not go back to that time for all the tea in China.

I made it through all four years, and I was a good student.  I sang all four years and got into the Concert Choir when I was still a Junior.  I solo'd in the V-Show (annual variety show) Junior and Senior years. I learned to speak French.  And I got to study photography Senior year - I entered two of my photos in a local show, and they were both accepted, winning a third place and an honorable mention (pretty thrilling back in the day - and no one else got two photos in the show  :-) ).  I had one date in high school, so not a popular girl. I never went to a dance or a prom.

When I say I made it through all four years, I mean that I was able to go to the same school.  We moved often as I was growing up.  We even moved once during high school, but it was only a block away, so I stayed in the same school district.

I was bullied in both junior high and high school.  We didn't call it bullying back then - bullies were big cowardly guys who used their fists.  No, it was more being made fun of.  So easy to do to the homely new girl who wore glasses and was not stick insect thin.  I wasn't a jock, I wasn't a nerd, I wasn't a greaser, I wasn't a stoner - I didn't have a clique to fit in with.  I was just an average kid - but a new kid.  I cannot imagine being in high school now - it was hard enough back in the 70s without texting or FaceBook.

The school I went to was huge - there were more than 1,000 people in my graduating class.  I didn't know most of them.  Most of the friends I made were through music, and through the youth group at church.  However, I had very little in common with most of the kids I went to school with, and most of their friendships had been forged in elementary school - kids who had known each other pretty much all their lives.  I think it's pretty telling that I have only one friend from those days with whom I remain in touch.  We are actually very dear friends and it is nice to have a friend who has known me for so long.

My mom was a single parent, and she worked.  This was not common in the affluent suburb in which we lived - where she had moved so I could go to a great school.  I had wanted to be in the annual school musical every year, but I never got in (and one year the school choir director told me not to bother because I was "too fat" for the bare midriff costumes)  - it was also very, very political, and the choir director at church (who was in the know about these things) told my mom that I never would be in the musical because my mom was not wealthy.  So, I had to be content with solos in the V-show.  I liked V-Show.  A lot.  :-)  The Thespian Society did a short play every year, and my Senior year they did Winnie the Pooh - it was presented at local grade schools.  I was Pooh.  That's the closest I ever got to any theater before I majored in it in college.

All told, high school is not something I have any interest in revisiting - no glory days on the athletic field, no wondering about old boyfriends.  I've never gone to a reunion.  I do like seeing photos, though - I confess that I take guilty pleasure in seeing how some of the classmates I recognize have aged . . . most of them didn't get the memo about good sunscreen and a hat  ;-)  Interestingly enough, I got the worst sunburn of my life on a youth group visit to the Michigan Dunes.  It was the 70s.  We were all trying to get tan.  Never mind that I was NEVER going to get tan.  Baby oil was the tanning accelerant of choice back then . . . my friends put a peace sign on my stomach with sunscreen . . . not only did I have second degree burns (with the blisters) over my entire body, I had a white peace sign for a really long time . . .  I'm lucky my face didn't scar.  My entire body peeled - I'm actually surprised I didn't have to go to the hospital.  I did have to spend the rest of the summer in jeans and long sleeved clothing, because just being in sunlight was painful - through my clothes.  I'm sure that little event will come home to roost at some point at a dermatologist visit, but I digress.

There is a small gathering of theatre people the same night as the reunion, in the same location.  I have been personally invited to that, and there is a part of me that is considering going.  But I probably won't.  A combination of wishing I looked better than I do (common, I believe  ;-) ) and the anxiousness of revisiting a time in my life that was supremely difficult. We'll see . . .

In a year that produced some truly awful music ("You're Having My Baby," by Paul Anka.  I rest my case.), 1974 gave us what is probably of my all-time favorites:

Enjoy.  And get up and dance, will you? :-)


Michelle said...

High school was not my favorite period, either, but made easier by going to a small, rural, parochial boarding school all but my freshman year. My graduating class had 48 in it. I cannot imagine how awful a huge public school would have been!

Kristyn McCain said...

My 20th reunion was this summer and I did not attend. I didn't go to the 10th either. I too had a bad HS experience and do not care to relive it. Plus the people I would want to see were not in my class and would not be there anyway.

A :-) said...

Michele - 48? Wow. You must have known everyone. I met someone once when I was living in Colorado whe was in my graduating class. We had never met before.

A :-) said...

Kristyn - yeah, a lot of the people I might actually like to see would be at the private theatre event, which is multi-year. That's why I am considering it - but it's very low on the list of priorities.