I got a letter recently from a former high school classmate named Sandra. Just before that, I got some great e-mails from someone I have known since kindergarten named Allison. So I have been thinking about reunions a lot recently.
I went to Lewinsville Elementary school in the 1970s. I had one bad teacher, but most were pretty good to great teachers. I would say this school was okay in my book. Most of the traumas suffered there were a result of my family life, not the school itself. Yeah, I had bullies, but not as bad as junior high. But, all good things must come to an end. Two years after I left, they closed down my school and turned it into a combo retirement home and day care center. I have always felt sad about this. Allison had suggested a Lewinsville reunion, and I thought that might be a great idea. Hopefully, we'll have more details later.
Junior High, Longfellow Intermediate High, was a hellhole of terror, bad teachers, shame, degradation, unfairness, and general misery. I will someday have a great essay about those years, my teachers, and my theories as to why it was so bad. I wouldn't have a reunion there even at gunpoint. I still get goose bumps of terror from those two horrific, miserable years.
McLean High School was better. Not good, but better. I went to high school near the nation's capital, and so many kids were "military brats," "state department brats," (these are not insulting terms, it was the self-described words the children of military and government parents used) children of senators, lobbyists, and those that follow them, and so on. Most never stayed at the same school, or even the same state for more than four years. Only 40% of the kids I was a freshman with, for instance, graduated with me. We had little to no school spirit, no unified force other than a shrug and "eh..." We had a terrible principal, which really stained my memory of that place.
So for our 5th-year reunion, only 40 or so kids showed up for a class of 350. I didn't go, because my father didn't tell me they were looking for me, and only thanks to Jason Lasky did I find out about it at all (way after it happened). Most of the kids that were in our area were now living elsewhere far away in the US or even overseas. It was a dud party, mostly filled with people who didn't hang out or anything in high school, so they didn't know each other, and there were never many memories.
The 10th reunion never happened. They tried to make it happen, but they couldn't generate enough interest. Apparently all the classes of the 80s had the same problem, so they grouped together and tried to have a "big 1980s reunion," and even THAT didn't generate enough people interested. The 15 year mark came and went without a peep from anyone.
But last week, I got a notice from a former classmate named Sandra I never got to know (I knew who she was, but we never shared the same circles), and she said, "Finally! We have a date for a reunion!" followed by the date, time, place, and a perky "more details to come later" promise.
Just a few years ago, I might have totally blown this off, because I had so few friends in high school. But this time, I actually think I might, since it would be near by house, of all places. And Sandra seemed so gung-ho and excited about it, I didn't want to rain on her spark, so to speak. She contacted a lot of other alumni, and many are interested, too. I anticipate an attendance (based on response) of 10-30 people, tops. Mostly because most of our classmates are scattered so far and wide, and the invite seems informal.
Times have changed, too. The 1980s were all pop-Reagan-conservative, and most of the kids were so focused on their future. Our school was like an engine of progress. Almost everyone I knew were applying to colleges by their junior year. Most seemed to have a "graduate, go to college, get a good job, and have a career!" navigation beacon. But then the recession hit right after they graduated college. Then came the Internet boom. Then the bust. Then 9/11. Then the war, and now back to recession. I remember what I used to think these people would turn into, and while some of them surprise me, a lot of them don't.
I see a lot of posts, mostly from girls, but some boys. I see many just recently started their families in their 30s. I already have a son who is turning into a teen this year. A lot of guys are or were in the military, which doesn't surprise me at all. A LOT of people who lived or are still living overseas, which also doesn't surprise me. I knew so many kids who grew up in Europe, who hated the US when they moved back, and pined for their European friends and familiar culture. They may have been US citizens, but their childhood hometown was in London, or Germany, or maybe even Japan. Many have kept moving every four years, just like their parents did. This is why so few people stayed in the area: what was to hold them here? It was just another station in their train of life events.
The major thing I had known all along was that most of these people would have good lives. They had money, parents that cared enough about them to raise them well, and always had someone look after them as an adult. And only a few of them were spoiled, and that kind of went away as they grew up and decided that having someone do stuff for them all the time was boring.
Hell, even I did okay, and I had none of that. So I am looking forward to seeing who ended up as what. Sure, they may snub me, or pass me on as "uncomfortable" like so many McLean people, but maybe not.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000097.html