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Score - Ldy, the lemony, ligerish ducttaparian's Magic Treehouse of Lost Thoughts
A classy broad's life... with footnotes.
So I went to my 20th year high school reunion this past weekend. I was a bit surprised I'd decided to go... high school was a less-than-enjoyable experience for me.

OK, so I'm understating. High school was a painful, bitter memory, full of tears and anger, derision and doubt.

You see, my high school was in a small, upper-class community in New Jersey, a scant half a mile by two miles in area. There were 113 people in my graduting class. It was the mid-80s, the height of conspicuous consumption, in a town dripping with money. And we were the only class that spent our 8th grade year in the high school. Because of all these things, and more, my school was, shall we say, a wee bit cliquey.

I didn't click with any of the cliques. I was the Anti-clique.

All throughout my high school "career," I was Least Likely to Be Much of Anything. (OK, technically, I was the Class Rebel.) I was the one last picked for kickball. I was the one people pointed at and laughed in the hallways.

As a result, I always felt less than. We didn't have much money. And have I ever mentioned that my Mom was a little bit crazy? Yeah, that probably didn't help matters much. I may have been a little bit crazy myself. Whether the result of malnutrition, crazyMomness or something else, I did, in retrospect, have all the earmarks of being bipolar. I was, at the very least, very immature and afraid, and was lacking almost any sort of positive self-image.

I detested high school, because I believed it detested me. How self-aggrandizing! I may have been a convenient scapegoat for any number of things (and was-- believe me, I'm not completely discounting the cruelty that teenagers seemingly use as fuel), but truth is, I didn't really matter all that much to most people. I projected my poor self-image on everybody around and hated the distorted reflection that faced me.

Surprisingly, the realization that my teenage pain was (for the most part) self-inflected doesn't make me feel sadness or anger or any terrible sense of loss. I look back now on those days with a wistful grin. Oh, I'd do things differently if I had it all to do again... but I don't. Every step has brought me to where I am now, and the lessons I've learned have been hard won.

And things have changed a lot since then, to be certain.

So anyway, I went to the reunion with Paul. What a trouper he is! He made it his goals to A. make me look as good as possible and B. keep me supplied with drinks. Oh, and C. clean up the blood if I made some sort of Carrie scene. He's a great guy.

The first night was at an Irish pub. We got there maybe forty minutes late... and were the first people to show up! It was astonishing-- some people looked EXACTLY the same as they did in high school... others looked COMPLETELY different. There seemed to be little in-between.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I fit in with my classmates. We were all just ordinary people, having a few beers out with people we hadn't seen in a good, long time. All the high school pettiness and pretense had evaporated-- especially in me. Few people recognized me, though most remembered me when introductions were made.

I was especially happy to see my friend S, with whom I never really connected back in school. I figured she was too smart and proper and I, too smart and rebellious. In reality, she felt the utter misfit, just like I did. Nothin' that says I can't keep in touch with her now :) She was the queen of the evening, in my opinion, keeping court while sitting on the long, low bar tables. Nary a soul escaped her keen interviewing techniques. I learned more about folks by eavesdropping on her than I did from my own conversations! Funny.

The next day, Paul and I had lunch with my brother, David. Talk about keen interviewing techniques... I've never heard my brother talk for more than a few short sentences in my entire life. Paul had him talking about economics for hours. Economics! I don't think I'd ever have guessed that this was my brother's hot button, but there it is. We had a great time.

The reunion itself was grand. Food was served on tiny plates at little buffet stations located in odd corners of the country club, and we ate perched at tiny tables or crouched on couches. Nobody ate enough-- but we all seemed to manage to eat at least the minimum one needs to be able to drink and not get violently ill. Someone bought the bar for an hour or two, which was nice. I danced some. The person I would have voted as Least Likely to Chase Money and Russian Models (why wasn't that an option at yearbook time?) showed up with stories of dot-com recovery and a petulant Russian model half his age.* Somebody else had put together a presentation of about 300 photos taken during our high school years.** One girl got terribly drunk early in the evening and gave me her life story, a barrage of hugs and a purple lighter.***

Afterward, we went to someone's parents' house (they were out of town, ha ha!) and had a few beers. She wasn't a huge misfit, but she wasn't really one of the popular clique either. She whispered to me as we were leaving-- "who'd have thought back then that I'd be hosting a big high school party, and you'd be closing it?" Not I, my dear, not I.

Sunday morning, I went to the "family breakfast" and left Paul to work on his economics paper. As I said, nobody had eaten much the night before, so we were all looking forward to eggs and bacon... and got cold bagels and fruit. At least I got to see people's kids. Amazing how we all grow up.

All in all, we spent a whole lot of money to see a bunch of people whom, for the most part, I barely knew or liked. But I loved every minute of it, and regret it not one bit. I hugged nearly every one of 'em, and I'd do it again. In fact, I'm all for helping to throw together a 25th.

When we got back to the plane, my baggage seemed a whole lot lighter. Maybe it was.

* She seemed a little upset that she wasn't the center of attention, so she danced a lot. Like they do on Sprockets. Hoo boy. I think I have video. Maybe I'll share it sometime.
** I wasn't in a one of 'em (but I shied away from cameras and the people who held them back then).
*** To the TSA's dismay, I still have the lighter.
**** The title to this entry refers to A. the number of years it's been, B. the typical reunion party game of keeping score by comparing one's self to one's peers, and C. an exclamation expression the joy at a decision well made.
***** Wow, it's a real entry!

Tags: ,
I'm feeling all kinds of: older, wiser
What I hear: Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah

26 tall tales or Tell me a story
ztrooper From: ztrooper Date: November 7th, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Bravo! You're a better person than I am, Charlie Brown. 8)

ldy From: ldy Date: November 7th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Haha, I doubt it :) But I appreciate the applause! Thanks!
angryvixen From: angryvixen Date: November 7th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Your time in high school sounds a lot like mine. I actually skipped my senior year just to get out of there faster. And now I'm actually helping PLAN the reunion. Yeah, go figure.
ldy From: ldy Date: November 7th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Is crazy, no?

I think we both turned out pretty great :)
bandicoot From: bandicoot Date: November 7th, 2006 09:12 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Nice pic ;)

20th is a good one - long enough for people to start showing physical changes. I just went to my 50th in September, and I had a lot of fun. I've only missed one and I still regret that one. It's fun to hang out with old girlfriends, too ;)
ldy From: ldy Date: November 7th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Hee. I didn't socialize much within my highschool-- my boyfriends were always towns away. But it was great seeing folk. Amazing how changes in hair and weight can't hide what a person truly looks like :)
ellie From: ellie Date: November 7th, 2006 09:33 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Ldy, your high school photo is absolutely lovely! You were (and still are) absolutely beautiful! I would show you mine if I had a scanner; I was so awkward looking.

I'm glad you had a fun time at your reunion. I wasn't invited to my class's 5th year reunion.
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC) (permalink)
Yikes, I can't stand that photo! But thank you all the same :)

I wasn't invited to my 10th, for whatever that's worth. Fact is, it's hard to find people once they move out of the area. If you're curious about the next one, keep an eye out at classmates.com-- that's how I found out about this one.
serendipity From: serendipity Date: November 7th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC) (permalink)
I have a brother named David, too. He has always talked. A lot. About everything.

ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC) (permalink)
Hahaha! And I LOVE your icon! :D
serendipity From: serendipity Date: November 8th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC) (permalink)
Thanks, weren't we cute? :D
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC) (permalink)
serendipity From: serendipity Date: November 8th, 2006 06:00 pm (UTC) (permalink)
So were/are YOU!
aetra From: aetra Date: November 7th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC) (permalink)
That's so great that you went and didn't hate it - that you're glad. I wish my high school had normal reunions. We don't. Every year they have an "alumni party" that no one much makes an effort to go to, especially since it's around Christmas and everyone is already so busy.

That yearbook picture of you is so awesome.
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC) (permalink)
Oh, jeez-- I HATE that photo. Except that it's so funny. I was so mad at the lady who gave me that poodle perm!

Screw 'em all and organize one yourself! That'd show 'em!
beachdog From: beachdog Date: November 7th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC) (permalink)
A bunch of hotties in that crowd!
Are the two in the front (one giving the V sign) twins?
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC) (permalink)
Hee, no, but they were probably the prettiest girls in school then, too :)
theraevyn From: theraevyn Date: November 8th, 2006 02:40 am (UTC) (permalink)
I was invited to my 10th and I couldn't be arsed to go because I felt much the same about high school that you did. Outcast. Didn't really like anyone back then; why would I want to see them now? The $80 ticket price per person didn't help either (helloooo Queen Mary?) Also, I was recently divorced and life was all upheaval and muck. I had nothing positive to share with anyone.

I am, however, looking forward to going to my 20th to see that all the cheerleaders got fat and the pretentious glam boys are losing their hair. >:D Nothin beats a little humble pie.
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Jeez, I thought ours were bad at $75 a pop!

Yes, yes, the humble pie is indeed tasty. I find it funny that I was successful and svelte and, well, HOT two years ago. Then I got a kid and a fiance and it all went to pot. So much for not being fat at my reunion! ;D

Haha, at least I wasn't the only one, for certain!
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 8th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC) (permalink)
I'm glad that hairstyle didnt come back. I forgot how bad the 80s were until now.
You look exactly the same! but with prettier hair, so its like everything got better. Hope it was fun. I don't think I could ever make an appearance in 16 years to mine.
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Man, I TOLD the woman not to give me Jersey hair!!

Thanks :) It was a good time. Sixteen years ago, I don't think I would have wanted to go, either. Funny how things change.
sirenity From: sirenity Date: November 8th, 2006 09:25 am (UTC) (permalink)
What a great entry. Thank you for sharing. I loved reading about it. =)
ldy From: ldy Date: November 8th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC) (permalink)
Thank you for reading it! I fell off the LJ wagon for awhile... it's really good to be back :)
helios137 From: helios137 Date: November 9th, 2006 04:25 am (UTC) (permalink)
Thanks a lot for sharing your great entry. For a second, I thought you were writing about my life, right down to the snooty rich kids, the misfit identity and the supremo-wacko mom. I am happy to see that you have realized that you learned lessons and gained a far greater understanding of yourself having gone through that. Self-introspection usually is the positive byproduct of years of tears, anger and doubt. My family was moving around a lot during high school so I ended up attending three high schools in NJ, NY and another country. The perpetual new kid. Ugh!

I was interested in the rock band the Kinks during the mid-eighties which you write about. Your memories triggered a few verses from a song of theirs that summed up the mood of the times for me (I'm a little older and was finishing up college at that time). Words from Raymond Doughlas Davies:

The establishment is winning,
Now the battle's nearly won.
The rebels are conforming,
See the father, now the sons.
All the urgency and energy
Have turned into complacency,
Now the schools and universities are turning out a
brand new breed of young conservatives.
ldy From: ldy Date: November 9th, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC) (permalink)
I totally grok those lyrics :) What an era.

Here's to us, my friend :)
helios137 From: helios137 Date: November 9th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC) (permalink)

26 tall tales or Tell me a story