It’s approaching, it’s just around the corner. As it gets closer I can hear the Jaws theme growing louder in my ears. Ba-dum, ba-DUM, BA-DUM…the fear sets in as the ominous event nears.
My 20th high school reunion is this August.
Many people look forward to their reunions. They want to catch up on old times and laugh about all of the fun had during those four years. I haven’t yet decided if I will attend or not. I am not one of those adults that feels the need to relive their high school glory days. There were no high school glory days for me. I am not in contact with anyone I went to school with (besides Facebook, and that doesn’t count). My fate in high school was sealed in junior high; I was overweight (or big-boned), I wore big plastic glasses, and my teeth were all crooked. I was the classic definition of a geek. I wasn’t popular, I wasn’t athletic, and I couldn’t even make up for those short-comings by being smart. I mainly tried to blend into the concrete block walls.
Although I changed physically by high school (I lost the weight, I got smaller glasses, and I got braces); my social status remained the same. I was teased, sometimes mercilessly. Gym class was the worst. I was always chosen last for any team. Why do we force kids to choose teams anyway? Why can’t teachers just assign teams so that no one feels subpar and unwanted? Anyway, I was last. Sometimes I lucked out and was next to last. The best was when I got to be team captain and a collective groan went through the gym because nobody wanted to be on my team. I hated games that involved running around bases. As I would approach the base for my turn to hit, kick, or whatever other humiliation the PE teacher had in store for me, the other team would all yell “MOVE IN!!!! CLOSER!!!! WE NEED TO SEE THE HAIRS IN HER NOSE!” Ok, that last one is a lie. I don’t have sticky out nose hairs. Some kids would try their hardest to kick that stupid ball over all of their heads. My goal was to head back to the end of the line as quickly as possible so I would usually kick straight to first. I barely made it two steps before the rolling ball was caught and I was out (or what I considered “safe”).
As all of my classmates cried on graduation day, I was ecstatic. I was done. I never had to go back. I moved on to college where I could start fresh. People would get to know ME, not only see me as the nerdy seventh grader who just longed to get through the day without being the butt of any jokes. So why would I want to go back and relive all of this?
I used to dream of my high school reunion. I would be model slim with long and silky hair. I would have my doctorate and my husband would look like George Clooney. Life didn’t turn out that way. Life turned out normal. I’m not skinny but I’m comfortable in my skin. My hair is frizzy but I embrace my inner Medusa. I have multiple degrees, but none high enough to put Ph.D. after my name. And I am not married (much less to George Clooney…but we all know he will never get married so I’ll use that as my reason why). I feel no need to go back two decades and catch up with people that never paid any attention to me before. It has taken me a very long time to leave that girl behind, with all of her insecurities and dreams of invisibility. I’m scared that if I go that girl will return and I’ll hide behind the potted plants.
Yet there is part of me that wants to go, to prove to myself that I am no longer that person. I want to believe that I am strong enough to be the person I am now. I want to say goodbye to the insecurities and be proud of who I have become. And I also want an excuse to buy a new dress. Possibly a green one that will blend in with those plants….