October 16, 1999
High School Reunions


David and his pal Gary just left for their twenty-fifth high school reunion.

I posed the two of them in front of the bookcase -- the third member of their *Terrible Trio,* Graham, is out of town and won't be able to attend -- and I said, "Show me how excited you are!"

[Judge the results for yourself.]

Dave & Gary ~ 1999

Going to the reunion was an eleventh-hour decision. The planning committee had had trouble tracking David down, so he didn't even receive the invitation until a couple of weeks ago ... and then he had to sort of mull it over for a few days, in that Very Davidlike way of his. (The fact that the event wasn't cheap was a factor.  "At these prices, they'd better be feeding us REAL crab," he said.)

When he finally decided OK, he was going to attend, we made a mad dash to the Castro District of San Francisco in order to find him something appropriate to wear. The invitation said "Semi-formal" ... so we bought him a black silk shirt with red flames running up and down the sides, trimmed with silver buttons shaped like dice. He wore that with black Levi's and white running shoes. (I love a man who allows his Inner Child -- and his girlfriend -- to collaborate on his wardrobe.)

As he was dressing, he said "Are you sure you don't want to come with me? It's not too late."

The truth is that I was riding the fence on this one. Part of me wanted to come along and watch him work the room. I love watching him interact with people. He's funny, upbeat, deliciously intelligent, and gobs of fun to listen to. (He'd decided that he was going to pick out one or two people at the reunion -- preferably people he hadn't really socialized much with in h.s. -- and tell them that he'd always liked and admired them. Why? Just to throw out some positive energy. Also to confuse the hell out of 'em.) That alone might be worth the price of admission.

But spending an entire evening at a high school reunion? I dunno. My interest in attending my OWN reunion ranges somewhere between nil and none. Why would I want to go to anybody else's?

Even somebody with whom I am deeply, madly, wildly in love?


Here is what this journal entry is NOT going to devolve into:

  • Another endless, fawning, nauseating entry all about how deeply/madly/wildly in love I am with David. I believe this has been PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED.

  • Another endless, weepy, nauseating entry all about how miserable I was in high school, and how *different* and *distanced* I felt from my classmates, and how I secretly resented the way The Popular Kids all sat at the center table in the lunchroom every day, whooping it up and laughing and looking down their snooty noses at the rest of us ... especially those of us who sat next to the door, quietly scribbling in our journal and trying to look completely unconcerned ... and how ANGRY I was over the fact that I was the subject of smirky locker room innuendo, simply because I had large breasts and I slept with my boyfriends occasionally, and how HURT I was because the girls hated me for the same reasons ... and how high school was basically three years of wide-awake-nightmare for me, even though I told myself (at the time, and in the years since) that it's really no big deal, because high school is different kinds of hell for everybody, and just get over it already.
"Nah, I think I'll sit this one out," I told him. And I kissed him, and told him to "have fun!", and waved goodbye as he and Gary walked out the door.

And then I went off to find my high school yearbook.

When I received the invitation to my 10 year high school reunion,  during the summer of 1986, I had just given birth for the third time in five years and I weighed over 200 lbs., thanks to a third-trimester brush with toxemia (and the nice folks at Hostess Snack Cakes). My marriage was a mess, my husband had just been fired from his job and was drinking like a fish, our house was being sold out from under us, and I felt fat, sweaty, exhausted, and disappointed by life. I didn't want any of my former classmates to see what a disgusting blob I'd become.

"I'll go the next reunion," I said.

Fast-forward, ten years later, to the summer of 1996, and here comes the invitation to my 20th reunion. I'd long since lost that post-toxemia weight, and I actually looked fairly presentable most of the time.  But I'd just lost my job of three years, thanks to *corporate downsizing* (and the nice folks at Almaden Vineyards). My marriage was a mess, my husband was griping about the amount of time I was spending online, *I* was drinking like a fish, our house was a constant battlefield, and I felt anxious, broke, exhausted, and disappointed by life. I didn't want any of my former classmates to see what a failure I'd become.

"I'll go to the next reunion," I said.

But you know what? The truth is that even if I'd been super-model thin, back in '86 ... and even if I could have shown up in my own personal limo, back in '96 ... I doubt that I would have gone to either reunion.


Because -- all of my protestations to the contrary -- I really did care about what people thought of me, back in high school. The rumors and the name-calling and the snobbery hurt me a lot more deeply than I was ever willing to let on. Ten and twenty years later, I was still carting around all of this stale, unresolved hurt.  And because I was ashamed of the way my life had turned out, and of the person I had become (or had NOT become, as the case may be). I figured, "Why go back and deliberately revisit that pain?" ... unless, of course, I could go back as this amazing SUCCESS STORY and say "See how great *I* turned out? Fudk you!!"

Truth? I still feel that way, a little bit.  I still cringe inwardly at the thought of walking into a roomful of people who witnessed me fail at cheerleading tryouts. I still want to drop-kick Jeff W., right in the gonads, for the smarmy things he said about me in first period Algebra. I still secretly hope that Carolyn Dopps got fat, and that Pat MacK. is bald, and that everybody on the yearbook staff is facing an IRS audit this year.

But more and more lately, as I move further into the recovery process  ...  as I make small but important strides in my career and in my writing ... as my children grow into good people ... as my relationship with David deepens and sweetens ...  I'm finding ways to let go of some of that twenty-five-year-old pain.

I guess I'm realizing that nobody's life ever turns out exactly the way they think it will ... and that if I wait for the *optimum conditions* to attend a high school reunion (me at my perfect weight, with a fabulous husband, the career of my dreams, a Pulitzer Prize AND a comfortable pair of dress shoes), then I'm never ever going to actually make it to one of the frigging things ...

... and that whether or not I ever actually ATTEND a reunion is irrelevant. The only thing that really matters is continuing to find ways to make peace with the past.

David's HS Graduation ~ 1974      Terri's HS Graduation ~ 1976

Sometimes David and I talk about what it might have been like if we'd met in high school.  Would we have been friends? Would we have been attracted to each other?

Would I have thrown up on him at a Led Zeppelin concert?

I look at his graduation photo and I have a feeling that a lot of the qualities I love about him today -- his brain, his sense of humor, his social ease, his beautiful broad shoulders -- were already there. But I also see a sort of smirky danger in his expression. I knew guys like him in my high school -- guys who thought they knew everything -- and I generally avoided them like the plague.

All things considered, I suppose it's just as well that we didn't meet until the Baby Boomer Chat Room. I think we needed to live through all the stuff we've lived through -- the botched marriages, the doomed online romances, the alcoholism and the dysfunction and the recovery and the this and the that and the other -- to get to the place we are now.

Besides: I'm not sure I could have handled having a boyfriend with prettier HAIR than mine.


So will I go to twenty-fifth reunion, when it rolls around in a couple of years?  

I don't know. It's going to depend on a number of things ... none of them, interestingly, having to do with how much I weigh or how much I earn per year. Mostly it'll have to do with where I am in my recovery, and how I'm feeling about myself and about my life at that point, and whether or not I've been able to work through the old hurts and let them go enough to enjoy myself.

And whether or not Carolyn Dopps is going to be there.

Here is where David will be writing about his reunion, as soon as he gets a free minute or eleven:

David's High School Reunion ~ 1999

Look for it a little later ....   (or never)

pictures of last weekend, anyone?:  if you haven't seen 'em yet, click here

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER:  yep. we're still having weather, alright. how about you?

special *howdy* to:   my long-suffering, overlooked, underappreciated pal mizzle ... who put the *foot* in *footnotes,* and who will ALWAYS be my friend. even when we DON'T agree.

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
can you remember the words to your alma mater?
i used to lip-synch at the assemblies. i think we ALL did.   

amazingly profound thought of the day:   "You are the most poised person I've ever met." ~ inscription in my high school yearbook ~