Have you missed me?
I know, it's only been a week, but I bet you want to hear about my high school reunion...
I walked into the upper level mezzanine of the Delafield Brewhaus on Saturday night. Tad held my hand all the way up the steps. He knew that I felt I had to go to this event. And that part of me wanted to show him off, show myself off even... And even though he just finished a hard last month of school. And even though he was exhausted. And even though the last thing he wanted to do was to go to my high school reunion, he went. And he held my hand walking in there.
Prior to the reunion I had dinner with some of my old friends. And that was fun. And then I went and picked up Tad and we went for a walk around my old neighborhood. And we talked. It was nice to talk--we've been unable to really connect lately just due to the end of school and all the everything going on.
So anyway, in we walk, holding hands, albeit a little bit disconnected...but we're there. And when we walk in and put our name tags on....all the air rushes out of me. I look around and I realize I do not want to be there. And I panic. I look around at the bar, the narrow room, the people--many of whom I only vaguely recognize, and it hits me. This is one of those events where I'll have to say sort of surface level things about what I do and where I live. I'll have to introduce Tad to person after person. I'll have to make small talk. I hate doing those things--I am WAY too socially awkward for all of that. So then I walk us right up to a group of people-a couple old friends and my ex boyfriend Jeff and his wife. (Jeff and I dated for four years from senior year of high school through junior year of college and lived together) Still holding Tad by the hand, I say, "Hello everyone. This is Jeff."
Yep. Jeff. That's what I said.
Friend: Jeff? His name is Jeff too?
Me: (Stammering) No! No. THIS is Tad. And this, Tad, is Jeff, Erin and Gregg.
Tad and I steal away and order a burger and talk about what the eff was that?!!!!
After a while, I mingle a little and go say hello to this guy, Joel, who was really nice to me in high school.
Me: Hi Joel!
Joel: (Looking at my name tag and then back at my face, pausing uncomfortably) I'm sorry.
Me: OH MY GOD!
Joel: I'm so sorry. I don't remember you. There were so many people.
Me: (Laughing) It's okay! I hate this reunion
Joel: (Laughs) Me too. Keep drinking. He holds up his glass.
I hold my water up to him, smile and walk away.
We managed to make it nearly two hours and then drove home in the rainy darkness, my mind whirling.
Saying Jeff instead of Tad was just my brain, panicking at all of the oldness of it and my anxiety. Being back in that old high school mind frame and whatever, it was just what my brain threw out. But what I realized was this: I went to my reunion, not because I really wanted to, but because I felt like I had to. Because I thought about the insecurity I had then and the not fitting in and the bullying and how much I hated it...and I thought coming back would help me prove myself.
But the universe decided to let me know loud and clear: I don't need to prove myself at all. And in trying to do so, I was just as bad as the ghosts I was trying to prove myself to. The people at that reunion were all in high school too. Insecure, figuring it all out and and maybe not knowing where they fit in....some in higher social castes and on more organized sports teams than others, but still....
And it wasn't all bad. My old friend Mandy, she showed me a picture of a drawing I'd done in study hall and we talked about about much fun we'd had being weird in the library, how we were bullied by the same person... And Amy, told me about how much being at my house meant to her and being with my family... And Kate and I laughed about how we already know more than we need to about everyone there because of facebook....And Missy, well her spirit just reached out to me across the decades and she feels just the same as she always did as a kindred spirit. And those experiences were nice, but I could have had those by reconnecting on my own...
So now I know. I don't need to go to any more reunions. I didn't like high school. I didn't need my high school reunion to remind me of that. And thanks, Universe. I will now remember that I am just one human among many with nothing to prove and a good life to go on living.