I have a school reunion coming up in a month or so, and though I’m not one of the people organizing it, I’m finding the process very interesting. We’re all well and truly adults now but it’s funny, so many of the reactions people have been having show me that though we’re all mature-looking on the outside, inside there’s a big chunk of the insecure teenagers we used to be. (That’s not me in the photo, by the way — it’s my mum. I couldn’t find any photos of me — they’re somewhere in a box.)
People have come up with all sorts of reasons they don’t want to come. One friend was saying she wasn’t going to go the reunion because “everyone else’s life has turned out so much more impressive” than hers, which from where I’m standing isn’t at all true. She’s just hard on herself, but an old friend had told her recently “You had so much potential” — so now she feels like a failure!
Other reasons for not going have ranged from “I won’t know who to sit with” or “I don’t want to run into my old girlfriends/boyfriends” and “Nobody will remember me (or liked me) anyway.”
I understand, because I was very reluctant when the first of these school reunions (just of our year) came up. I had no plans to go — I’d kept contact with my main friends anyway— but two friends of mine badgered me into it. And to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. And it got me thinking about, and analyzing, my youth/adolescence in a different way.
High school was a transformative experience for most of us. Ours was an academic, government high school and students were selected academically, and came from all over Melbourne and from all walks of life. We went from thinking ourselves one of the smartest in our year to just being average — some of our schoolfellows were truly brilliant — and the culture of the school was stimulating and challenging—and transformative. So after that first reunion, I realized we all had more in common than we thought.
Since then, a small group of the women I went to school with meet a few times a year for lunch and/or an outing — all because of going to a reunion. We weren’t all great friends at school but now we all get on wonderfully well and are getting to know each other as we didn’t at school. And reflecting about our very different lives. (That photo isn’t of me in high school, but of me at school in Scotland when I was 8. I found it on my own website. <g>)
But finding people is hard. For a start, we came from all over a large city, and ours was a large year, so there are a lot of people to find. Since school we’ve scattered all over the country, and even the world in some cases. One guy is a music performer and teacher in London. I remember him wrestling his double bass on and off the tram (trolley car) to and from school. Luckily he was a tall guy. I guess he still is. <g> Another woman lives a good part of the year in France and pops all over Europe. And others I have no idea of.
We’ve tried FB and LinkedIn, and other on-line places, and though we have old address books from school years, only one person I know still lives where they used to. I’ve managed to dig up a small group of the men in our year — but the people I’ve come unstuck on are the women. So many changed their names on marriage and there’s no hope of tracking them down. So it won’t be the full group, but still, past experience has shown that will be a valuable and worthwhile experience.
I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes, but in the meantime, what do you think about school reunions — love them or hate them?