Given that I live fewer than ten miles away from my high school (actually closer than I lived when I was in high school), it is entirely reasonable to expect that I might have a run-in or three with an old classmate on any given weekend. Many of my old haunts are still favorites– the mall, that boba place, and bowling alley where I earned a year’s worth of PE credit in a single semester during my senior year.
Like any other semi-successful survivor of high school and college (and, if we’re going to brag, grad school), I look back on my high school years with a certain amount of chagrin. It’s not that I was horribly awkward (just a regular amount), or terribly bullied, or even a part of some fringe clique in high school. I don’t remember there being “popular” people, and who knows whether there were or not– but I certainly wasn’t one of them, either. (True story: I went to a homecoming float-building meeting senior year and was asked whether I went to our school. I was too flabbergasted to respond.) I don’t think that my distaste for so many things high school-related has to do with the people, per se (although I see enough idiocy on Facebook to scare me off), nor does it have to do with any particular misery that I was undergoing during those four years. I had friends, I got along well with most of my teachers (read: nerdy, teacher’s pet type), and got out of high school pretty much what I put into it. I have no actual reason to be all head-ducking around the mall, but there it is.
There have been mercifully few encounters with people that I know or recognize from high school, however, when I’m out and about. Really, the only unplanned meetup in recent memory was when I was in Oakland, of all places, for work. A friend that I’d known since about seventh grade had spotted me eating with a coworker in a pizza place close to the school we were visiting, and it was the perfect greeting-but-not-a-conversation: we hugged hello, asked what each other was up to, and went back to our meals. Job done, no awkwardness.
And yet. I was recently added to a Facebook group that has been created for the purpose of planning our reunion. I have no plans to attend this reunion (I can drink much more cheaply at home with high school friends on my own, thankyouverymuch), but I can’t bring myself to leave the group. Is this what social media does to us? It allows us to hold at arms length both what we are slightly uncomfortable with (hello, reunion), while at the same time creating a distance between us and something we may feel we’re missing (those friends we’ve lost touch with and remember fondly). It’s tricky, isn’t it, that a single medium pushes both ways.
How about you, friends? Where are you with regard to reunions? Doesn’t a nice brunch with the handful of friends you’ve managed to keep in touch with and still very much enjoy sound so much better? (Or am I just a closet introvert? Hm.)