July 29, 2008

Ten Years Have Made a Huge Difference, and None at All

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Sitting there after dinner last Saturday night sipping my Amaretto Sour alone, I suddenly realized that 10 years is not always long enough to get over it. I looked around the room, and recognized almost everyone. But I was still sitting by myself, and all those feelings of being left out, being an outsider were there, the same feelings I felt 10 years ago. I didn't invite them, and I didn't appreciate it that they were back, but they were.

If you had asked me 10 years ago what I'd be doing in 2008, my answer would most certainly not have been 'planning my 10 year high school reunion'. While I was in high school, I didn't really enjoy it. Somehow, in February, there I was planning the reunion anyway. With two people who I wasn't friends with in high school (but who are both very nice). The entire time, I found myself thinking that high school wasn't so bad. After all, I had a good time, and I have a lot of good memories from that time in my life. I had fun planning the reunion, although it was a hell of a lot of work. I didn't really do it for myself. The people I would have liked to see mostly don't live in the area, and as planning went on I realized they wouldn't be there. But I wanted everyone else to have a good time none the less.

As I've freely admitted before, I am an emotional packrat. I hold on to things like there is no tomorrow. I still think about my middle school best friend and wonder why she dumped me the way she did. I don't regret it because I made one of my best friends freshman year (whose wedding shower I'm throwing next weekend), and I might not have if I'd still been frinds with the other girl. But I'll always wonder why she chose to do it the way she did. I still miss the friends I made during the time I worked at Borders. I know they don't think about me, but I can't help thinking about them. I have problems letting go. I don't want to lose a friendship even when I'm putting in 99.99% of the work. I still think about the guy that I was in love with in high school, and wish that we were still friends.

Sitting at the reunion that night, nostalgia crept in fast. It took hold of me as I sat there alone, wondering how many people there even knew my name, wishing that people were there who couldn't make it, feeling the loss of friendships that I haven't had for ten or more years. I felt like the same shy outcast that I was during my Freshman year. And it still hurt.

The picnic on Sunday was much more comfortable for me. Chatting and seeing people's children I was more in my element. I've found I have a hard time relating to people who don't have husbands or families. I just don't have all that much to talk about. What have I done in the last 10 years? Well, I got married and had a kid. And I love it, but it's pretty much all I have to talk about at this point. Sure there's my job, but it's not the biggest part of my life. Sure I graduated college, but that was seven years ago. I don't know what to say to people that aren't at the same place in life as I am, and I admit that sometimes it's hard to listen to people talk about their lives when they're in a place that I was in five or ten years ago.

I thought that 10 years would be enough time for people to get over themselves, to get over what happened in high school. But after Saturday night, I know it's not. I'm not the same person I was then. I am a strong woman, I'm (usually) confident, I'm happy with my life, I am a wife, a mother, and a great friend to the people I surround myself with. I'm smart, I work and take care of my family and I know what my path is at least for the next 15 years. I'm settling down, and I'm happy with that. But somehow being around all of the popular girls again, and hearing some other girls gossiping about others, none of that mattered. I felt like I'd been transported back in time and that I was still that girl that no one knew. It's not that people didn't like me, it's just that I wasn't important, I didn't stand out, I wasn't popular or the life of the party or part of any of those cliques.

Two days after the weekend, I am still physically and emotionally exhausted. It's not that I didn't have fun. I talked to a few people, and I had a good time. In the planning and execution I got to know the two girls who were planning it with me better, and hopefully will stay in contact and friends with them. One of them lives in the area, and invited me to join her book club, and I'm actually really looking forward to it. They've both grown into smart, successful wonderfully nice women. I took pride in the fact that the event I'd helped plan went so successfully. I also realized I still care what those people think of me. I saw them chat and form little groups, I saw some of them act like they were so much better than everyone else, I saw some of them treat others like they were still the popular kids. I hope that in 5 or 10 more years, things will be different. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.


Wife to Mark,Mom to Samuel said...

Hey Rachael! I'm glad that you planned this event. I'm sorry that you felt the same as in high school. I actually truly KNOW that feeling...I really do. I was also the one that people didn't notice...I wasn't popular, and actually got feelings hurt many a time with people making fun of me...
Isn't it sad that that happens? Why does it have to happen! I think that's why I will be raising my child to love EVERYONE...and not take favor in anyone. I don't want that to happen to him or for him to treat others that way. I guess that is our purpose now...to teach our children not to make others feel the way we did growing up. Oh, Rachael, I love you! You're such an awesome person and I'm so happy that you actually were brave enough to plan and attend this reunion...I wasn't brave enough to attend my 10year. Blessings today and always!

Britt said...

I have a lot of the same feelings toward high school. Kudos to you for going to your reunion. I won't be going to mine.

Anne-Marie said...

Funny - I had the same exact thing happen at my ten year reunion. My husband and I snuck away and watched a movie instead. The girls were still super catty and none of my core group of friends showed up. It was a totally a buzz kill ... so you're not the only one. =)

And afterwards? I felt like a total loser that I didn't LOVE hanging out with everyone and feel all warm and fuzzy. That "hangover" took a while to get over ...

Nap Warden said...

You know...I never went to any reunions. Is that weird? Anyway, glad yours seems to have went well:)

Angela said...

This was really good for me to read. My reunion is eight weeks away, and I'm really looking forward to seeing Those Who Have Grown Up. I'm hoping lots of people fall into the Grown Up category. (I didn't have many close friends in high school, and I have a funny feeling I will be doing the Fly on the Wall thing at the reunion...)

Edie said...

f#@k high school. You have to wait at least 20 years for people to change because you don't seriously get that it's not all about you until you have a kid or have some other life changing events happen. That's what I think, but I never went to any of my reunions, and di not regret my absences. I think in life there are very few people who turn out to be good friends anyway. I also know that most of the high school students that I talk to at work feel pretty much like you do.

Keith said...

I think it wonderful many go to their 10 year reunions.

Hellacious movies Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, and Grosse Pointe Blank came out the year before mine.

I am now invited to my twenty-year reunion, and looked at the web site.

The people I most hated in 1988 do not look like monsters anymore. I may actually go this time

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