Revisiting glory days past, and catching up on the achievements of the present, many of my classmates were at the 20 year reunion recently. I thought about going. There are some very intelligent people I went to school with, and I’m sure they’re doing some pretty amazing stuff. Most of my classmates went to Ivy League schools, or at least private liberal arts colleges. I couldn’t quite make the cut, NHS pin and all.

Nostalgia and facebook are a dangerous combination.

While I am drawn to people’s now, what deterred me was the thought of conversation focused on then. Those sentences beginning with “Remember when you…” Or “Remember that time….?” No. No, I don’t, actually. Much of that time has been conveniently deleted. I enjoyed school, the classroom was a safe place for me. But outside the classroom I watched society life from the outside. I had my few friends, and we generally kept to ourselves–a moderately easy task in a school of 800 students. I learned to navigate three spheres: classroom, church youth group, and my friends. Three different sets of expectations. Three different performance scripts to learn. Apparently that kind of identity-shifting has become the norm.

My home life was not terribly picturesque. The lack of photo evidence from that period is telling in that regard. My family was not in the habit of documenting choir competitions, theatre after parties, or sleepovers. And I have since let go of old journals from that time as well. Moving every few years will naturally slim the shelves.

8thGradeMe

yes, those frames are back in style

One person wrote when attempting to scrounge up images, “We are from one of the last years where we actually had to go down and spend a fortune on developing pictures, there was no instant gratification or tablet editing for our photos, …we took our pictures much more serious…”
Thinking about that, I was suddenly transported back to a time when the year book was a big deal. We would sit and comb through the pages to see if we made the cut. For me the feeling was a mix of desire and dread. I wanted desperately to be seen…but not like that. Not through the eyes of peers who didn’t know me and only saw the baggy clothes and larger than my face eyewear. Of course my friends knew me. But somehow that wasn’t enough. I wanted smart people to recognize me as a smart person. I wanted class comedians to see me as funny. I wanted attractive people to help me become more attractive. I lived in an overwhelming yearning for affirmation.

And then it was over. We graduated. I headed off to a state school while others went on to work or travel or big brick institutions in the east. The years roll by. Life continues on.

I thought about going. But I just didn’t want to go back there. Maybe the next one.

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