I have conflicting feelings, and I don’t particularly enjoy that. I prefer my feelings to be easily identifiable, strong, and organic in nature. But sometimes this is not possible. Sometimes you gotta live with it, and live with it I shall. I guess what I find most interesting is exactly why I’m feeling emotionally squirrelly, which tells me that’s something I should think about.

In a couple of weeks, my high school class is holding a reunion. I’ve been to a couple; the last one ten years ago when I had bright blonde flipped hair, wore what seems to me now to be a positively funereal dress, and had two kids instead of three. I remember it as rather surreal, as I suspect many fellow classmates who also moved away from Wisconsin many years ago would concur with. Your mind gets very set on the images and personalities you knew only as teens, and doesn’t really want to update the info easily. Today, I without conscious thought classify those compadres and acquaintances and vaguely-known shadows as “old, “which is sort of disturbing to realize, and surely when they view my photo they think likewise. It’s been a long-ass time since those days, and we’ve all moved from looking like children to live in our adult bodies and faces for the remainder of our time, from coltish young adults to, if well-preserved, “pretty good for that age.”

Past the shallow-but-certain appearance thing is the curiosity of what happened to everyone, what do they do, kids or no kids, grandkids (!), or have they in fact already died. I have avoided death, which I feel damn smug about, so that would have been something I could share with everyone: UPDATE – NOT AT ALL DEAD YET.  It may be anyone’s finest accomplishment.  But other than that…OK, here’s where I start to feel…sigh…uncomfortable.

I hated high school. I hated hated hated it. All I wanted was OUT. The three years I spent there weren’t good ones for me, and there’s nothing to be nostalgic about. I was a spectacularly lousy and completely disengaged student, putting in only enough effort and face time to pass each class. I took the easiest schedule one could possibly take, never even took the SAT, never went to the tailgate parties or joined in reindeer games. I was breaking away. It was a very solitary process, and at times I felt desperately lonely, depressed, and furious to be locked into somewhere I didn’t want to be. But those unpleasant emotions then were the cost of doing business as ME, and were necessary, in hindsight. 

But I did have friends, and I wasn’t like some emo weirdo locked in my room listening to misery songs or something. That’s not me either.  I’m not exactly sure what anyone would have made of me in those years, should they have caught a rare glimpse of Mariannecus Rockenrollecus at school, and I would think now that those memories for anyone are almost completely gone. I look at the faces and names of so many classmates now and there is a logical click that yes, I knew this person…but I often cannot remember a single solid thing about them. It’s mashed into the Potato Brain, also frustrating because in general I have a kick-ass memory, dammit.

I would be a rather useless attendee to the party, I’m afraid. Combine that with the fact that I live 2000 miles away and still have young kids in school in the fall and also have concert tickets that evening…well, yeah, I’m not gonna be there. If the reunion had been in the summer, I could have and would have arranged our annual family trip back to Wisconsin around that, maybe held a post-event BBQ on the lake even, and enjoyed another dose of surrealism.  October is tough.

Level Two of the conflicting feelings arises here, for some of the friends I had are sad that I won’t be there, and I feel sad to let anyone down, especially for such a kind and genuine expression. I have made more of a point in the last few years to try to see some of my dear friends of long-standing, because, well, shit happens. You really don’t know if the opportunity will come again, and your connections with people are, hopefully, your most precious resource. I do understand that.

When I told one of my old friends about my wishy-washiness about all of this, she wrote:

I am maximally bummed. You are an important part of many people's high school experience (especially ME). I won't give up hoping until the day of the event.”


See? That’s why it’s hard not to go. My experience was so different from hers, and I wonder if there is more for me to learn there. Probably so. I am going to miss out on some fun and good stories, I know. I do know. Sigh.

Dear High School Classmates,

I hope everyone has a great time and no one gets drunk and vomits all over the dance floor but if they do please take pictures so I can post them here. Thanks, old pals.

With love, the Not At All Dead Yet Marianne In Seattle-ish