This weekend is my undergrad’s 10 year reunion.
I’m not going.
Part of it is my philosophy on education: a teacher and a school have done their jobs when they are no longer needed by the student. But then there’s also the practicality and reality of the situation. What’s going to happen at this reunion? I’m going to see some friends that I still see regularly–OK, fine. But more likely and mostly I’m going to run into people I’m so close to that I haven’t seen them or spoken to them in 10 years. Many of us will probably be Facebook friends, and over the last decade I’m sure we will have liked each others pictures of engagement rings and vacations and maybe another later graduation. We may have had a poking war or two, or maybe we’ve had a 1-2 sentence conversation on some post or status. But we’re not “close” by any measure.
And what do you say to these people? How’s your life been? How was the wedding? (Not only do you have to ask that question in a way that indicates you’re totally not upset you weren’t invited, but also statistically-speaking half the time you then will have to apologize immediately for not realizing there has already been a divorce.) Did you keep in touch with [insert a name of someone who isn’t there]? How old are your kids now?
Hell, most of these answers you probably know already or could figure out by spending 20 minutes on any social media app.
Generally-speaking you will have one of two reactions seeing any of these people again:
(1) God, they haven’t changed a bit! Why (aren’t we still)/(were we ever) friends?
(2) God, I’d never recognize them. Why (were we never)/(were we ever) friends?
This is, of course, omitting the one category of people you either desperately hope to see or desperately want to avoid: your exes. If you want to run into your exes it’s because you want them to see that you “won the breakup” or you want to see for yourself just how far they have fallen. Maybe you know they’ve gotten fatter than you have (because let’s face it, we ALL have gained weight). Or maybe you just want them to hear how successful you’ve become. If you want to avoid them it’s because you know they’re richer than you, or their significant other is better looking and younger and perkier than yours. Or maybe they just seem HAPPIER than you, and you definitely don’t want to face that reality.
Oh, and then there’s the reminiscing. You find an old “friend” and start talking about the Alpha Beta Gamma Halloween party from 2005 (being perhaps coy in forgetting certain details…the friend may have brought their non-alum significant other or worse–their kid–to this event). Remember Dr. Emeritus and how he got us to read Aristotle by making constant analogies to Ralph the Acorn? You may take a selfie, or ask someone to take a group shot. You may stroll around campus to check on your old hangouts, only to discover that–just like you–they’ve been remodeled or relocated or removed to make way for the younger, hipper generation. And God, help you if you see a current student! They’ll look so young. They’ll seem so naive and possibly so stupid. Despite the fact they’re still blaring Green Day’s American Idiot, you’ll feel ancient (and realistically, you should. You were playing that album because it was new and made you seem “edgy”. They’re playing it for the same reason you played Nevermind–it’s old enough to make you seem angsty but still in a cool way.). You’ll say to yourself, “At least we were never like them”–a statement that officially makes you an old fart.
Because a few hours is all you need to catch yourself up on the last 10 years in the lives of practical strangers, you then start to say your goodbyes. But how does that go, exactly? Do you hand people a business card, writing your cell number in pen on the back–just to make it clear you “want” to stay in touch? Do you lie and promise to call or email the next time you’re in town (when clearly your track record indicates that’ll never happen)? Do you actually see each other in the first few weeks and attempt a regular visitation schedule, but then go back to your old ways?
In writing this post, I’m realizing I’ve changed very little in a decade. I’m still a closet misanthrope who markets herself as a realist. And I still can’t bullshit or sugar coat anything.
So on that note, I hope those who go to the reunion have fun. I really do. I hope you prove me wrong in my summary of likely events. I only ask one thing: if you happen to think of me, please think of me as I was. The nerdy, feisty girl who never wanted to leave college and who always had a quick retort. The one you nicknamed “Doogie Howser”. The whitest chick you ever met who drove an actual pimpmobile (named “Moby D”). Remember that version of me.
And in exchange, I’ll do the same. I’ll remember you as you were. You will never age in my book–you’ll be like Dorian Gray, but without the nefariousness. You always will be the cool version of you your children would never believe existed. And honestly, if you’d like to get in touch with me, even after 10 years, I welcome it. You know my name–look up the number (or just [insert my name] while talking to someone you KNOW has kept in touch). I’m just not going to endorse through my attendance the painful, “pomp(ous) and circumstan(tial)” event that is a reunion.
In closing, while in some ways we haven’t changed at all (as the picture and post show at least on my end), in other ways we’d never recognize each other. And so I’ll choose to remember (and encourage you to as well) that which I know without doubt was good: the way we were.