Tuesday, May 7, 2013

20 Years

"Are you going to Reunion?"

In another sign that I'm not a kid anymore, I got a notice that my 20th high school reunion is coming up this fall. My (very few) high school era friends have gone through a flurry of "I'll go if you go" sort of hedging. We'd like to see each other, but none of us is all that anxious to see the other members of our graduating class.

Because there are two types of people: those who enjoyed high school, and those who were crippled by it. If you're one of the latter, you know what I mean. If you're one of the former, let me explain:

You enjoyed high school at my expense.

You mocked me. You bullied me. You teased me for being too smart. Too slow. For not wearing the right jeans. For being shy. For being outspoken. For trying to improve my accent in Spanish class. For not having a boyfriend. For having the wrong boyfriend. For trying to be nice to you. For giving up and keeping to myself.

The only time you were friendly to me was after I had starved myself to the brink of hospitalization; you asked me for diet tips.

Five years out of high school, I still felt like I had to prove I was deserving of my life. Graduated college; so do lots of people. Landed jobs in my field of choice; I should be able to find better ones. Guy attempted date rape; I shouldn't have gone home with him. Had my heart broken; I must be unlovable.

Twenty years out of high school, despite how fabulous my life is, I still question my adequacy at all turns. Didn't make the roster? Must be because the team knows how much I suck at this game. New neighbors aren't welcoming? They must not like me. Depression has escalated? I should be able to keep this crap under control by now.

Twenty years later and I still avoid anyone who gives off that I-loved-high-school vibe, because I know they will only lead me to disappointment. I can smell it when a person is prone to saying one thing to my face and talking about me when I'm not around. I distrust people who love things I consider superficial - makeup, shoes, shopping, goddamn decorative pillows - because I fear they'll treat me like I'm back in high school.

I've spent over half my life avoiding reliving my high school years. So while I'd love to catch up with a handful of people, I'm not so keen to hang out with the rest of you. I don't anticipate any personal benefit to be gained from telling you off in person, so the polite thing would probably be for me to let you have your little wow-those-were-the-best-years-of-my-life party and try to surround myself with people more worthy of my energy.


  1. Party idea: the "high school sucked" anti-reunion. It practically plans itself.

  2. I love Niki's idea! Your story cuts rather close to my own, Meredith. I'm sure that many can relate. I was relentlessly bullied to the point where I slowly wanted to poison myself so my suicide would appear like a natural illness. I'm not shitting you - that's what went through my tormented mind when I was in the 8th grade and it continued into high school. My few friends - brilliant, odd outsiders - saved my sanity and we all got each other through it somehow, and they are still my closest friends. I would never want to see anyone who made my high school experience the worst time of my life. And yes, it carries with you. I've been employed in the public school system for 17 years now, and my colleagues remind me of high school all over again - they're cliquey, catty, backstabbing bullies. I much prefer the company of my students - the oddballs, the outsiders, the weirdos who want to eat their lunch in the library. And I let them.


Keep it civil, people.