Going back to school5:6PM, Nov 22, 2012
I'd like to thank Hollywood for putting the panic into high school reunions. I mean, if you ask pop culture, it’s the one defining moment in every twenty-something’s life that has the power to single-handedly shatter or reaffirm everything you’ve been working towards since you were 17 or 18. Right? Uh, well maybe in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.But in real life? Pfft. Hardly.
You see, a couple of weeks ago I went to my ten year milestone. I caught up with people who I literally hadn’t seen the day Year 12 finished and others who I had little to do with at school. There were marriages, engagements and babies as you’d expect, but for the most part – I reckon ten years doesn’t really change you that much (aside from the loss of that puppy-fat plumpness in your face – a definite plus).
Now don’t get me wrong, most people had mellowed or become more comfortable in their own skin, but loud people will always be raucous (especially after a few) and funny people still crack everyone up. There were a few pleasant surprises of reserved and shy types who – to use a phrase I unapologetically hate – had really come out of their shell. But really, no one was that different. And the whole thing was far less of a big deal than I thought it would be.
I wasn’t always so pro-reunion. In the weeks leading up to it, I went from nervous, to noncommittal to dreading it and then downright disinterested. There were points when I thought, ‘Why bother? It’s stupid.’ Thing is, I’m still close with all my high school buddies and friendly with a lot of others, so I didn’t feel like there was any need for a reunion – I could just pick up the phone and see my friends if I wanted to. But luckily, the insistence of my super-positive friend Nic and my own curiosity (plus a lack of proper excuses) won out. And to my utter surprise, I had an absolute blast. No one was nasty, bitchy or chip-on-their-shoulder weird. No one was stuck in the past and mostly we just talked about our jobs, partners, travel plans or even just Game Of Thrones. Competitive and show-offy it was not. And, aside for the first awkward five minutes where I didn't know whether to go in the for the hug, wave or kiss-on-the-cheek greeting, I can’t recall any excruciating, get-me-outta-here moments. Yep, I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually glad I went.
Basically, I think reunions come down to this: despite everything you see in the movies and on TV sitcoms, there are never any long-standing scores to settle or old flames to reconnect with – people are too non-confrontational for that stuff anyway. And here’s the thing: time heals all wounds. Essentially, your reunion is as big a deal as you make of it. But I do think unless you have a proper excuse (like being out of the country or, I don’t know, being in labour) you should try to go.
And just so you know, I didn’t feel any better or worse about my life after the event, and nor did I feel like I needed to change anything. When it ended in the early hours of the morning, I called a cab and took myself home. And, in the words of Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I just carried on living my life.
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