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High school reunions

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

To relive - or not to relive

Some people love them. For others, it sounds akin to being struck by the stomach flu, or worse. Movies - both comedies and tragedies - have been made about them. I'm talking about high school reunions.

To relive - or not to reliveI did not particularly enjoy high school. I went to a large high school in a sizable city, and I never was part of the "in" crowd. I could not wait to move on and move out of the state. That's what I did - and in the decades since high school, I've done little looking back. I've had very little contact with anyone from high school over the years - just one person on my holiday card list, a couple of airport and public transportation encounters, and a couple of email exchanges. That's it. I'm fine with that.

Every five years

Several weeks ago, we received an invitation to a high school reunion for my husband. His high school experience was in stark contrast to mine - a small high school in a small town not too far from where we live now - but he still looked forward to moving on and moving out. And did so. The difference was and is that he has maintained friendships with several high school friends - and they have all grown as individuals aside from and in addition to the high school relationship. While I have no desire to go back to any of my high school reunions - and haven't - we've managed to attend all of his. They are odd events. Often fun, always quirky - and it's always the same people planning it.

I'm interested in the people who plan theses reunions, though. I wonder how much of it is wanting to relive the easier, carefree days of youth and how much is stock-taking and one-up-manship. I personally have no desire - zero! - to relive the uncertainty of my hormone fueled teenage years. And I like to think I've become more accepting of what we were and what we are. What one girl did or didn't do twenty five years ago is history long since under the bridge; if I sought out that boy that I was unnecessarily rude to in English during 10th grade, would the apology be for him or me?

Human interest - genuine and not so genuine

That's not to say I'm not interested in what happened to certain people in a rather voyeuristic way - I am! I'm human, after all. But it goes both ways, and it feels rather creepy to be on the receiving end of such interest. If I'm going to reconnect with people from high school, I'd rather do it outside of such a pressure-filled (and alcohol fueled) setting. I'd rather we start with some of that acceptance that my husband has with his friends and go from there.

I remember reading a quote once about reunions. It was something like, "Show me a person whose happiest days were in high school or college, and I'll show you a very unhappy person." I've taken that idea to heart. I want my happiest days to be ahead of me, to always have something to look forward to. Only looking to the past at happiness is a very sad existence indeed.

Maybe someday I will go back to one of my high school reunions. Maybe not. Regardless, I will continue to look to the future.

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