Sunday, September 8, 2013

A high school reunion

It's been an unusually lucrative couple of weeks at work. Add that to the credit cards that have just been paid off, and I'm starting to think I might actually one day be debt free, even with losing ten days of income this month.

Next week I'm off to the East Coast--I'll see my old friends and coworkers in Boston for a night, then spend the rest of my time in Virginia, dealing with my best friend's wedding, my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary, and my twentieth high school reunion.

Naturally all I've been able to think about is the reunion.

20 years. TWENTY.

High school was the longest four years of my life, and I wasn't even there for one of those years, and yet it seems like 20 years have gone by like nothing.

I had a great time at the ten-year reunion, though I wasn't expecting to (largely because I was single and got laid, but that's another story). Most likely I'll have fun at this one, too; people are bound to have changed in 20 years. And even if not, there'll be booze and it'll be a Saturday night off work.

Nevertheless, I'm still thinking about it all the time.

High school was, hands down, the single worst experience of my life. (Second worst? Middle school.) Death, divorce, and car accidents pale in comparison. Getting hospitalized for three days for excruciating stomach pain no one could diagnose? Not as bad as high school. Being stood up, and fired, on my birthday? Not as bad as high school. Dating a guy who wanted to pimp me out on Craigslist? Still, not as bad as high school.

I was teased, bullied, and made to feel unwelcome by pretty much everyone. You name it, it happened at some point--tripped in the hallway, spit on, laughed about in the locker room, pelted with food in the cafeteria, pelted with volleyballs in gym class. If I said anything in class, someone in the back snickered. If I said hello, I usually got, "Why are you talking to me? I'm not your friend." If I didn't say hello, I got, "Why are you such a stuck-up bitch?" I was told that boys would never ask me out because I was a frigid lesbian, and they would rather get AIDS than be seen with me in public. It was a relentless campaign of ostracism; even some of the teachers were in on it. ("You'd make more friends if you just tried a little harder.")

Eventually I stopped trying. I made friends outside the school, starting dating older boys, got involved with theater so that I could hang out with other social pariahs. Midway through my junior year, I realized that if I had to put up with another year, I'd probably become a tower killer, so I exploited some loopholes and left home at 16 to start college a year early. Which was awesome--if high school was the worst four years of my life, college was definitely one of the best four.

And then 20 years went by. There are still some psychic scars--I have dreams about being forced to go back to high school to finish that missing year. I can't walk into a room full of people without mentally cringing, waiting for someone in the back to snicker. I avoid gyms, and locker rooms, like the plague. I see those people on Facebook now, living perfectly normal lives, and part of me wonders, "Do they remember?"

Will this be like walking into the lion's den, again?

No, of course not. We've all changed since then, and it'll be a fun evening of talking to people I never really got to know back then. With booze. Possibly also cool music. I hope.

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