Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reunion: Redux

I did promise to report here I am.  I survived.  Even though the whole thing had put me in a weird headspace and had made me contemplate some things about myself, I'm glad I went.  Peter had planned to come along with me, but he had unfortunately been made redundant (thanks to the TAFE funding cuts) the day before.  There will be more about this later.  As he'd come down with a cold, it was couch and pajama time for him.   So, here's how my night went...

A lovely friend had been persuaded by my last blog post, to come along.  She had been contacted by someone else we went to high school with, and all three of us rocked up together.  I was happy to give them both a in numbers, and all that.  And secretly I thought how ace it was to be arriving with two of the coolest and nicest people from school.  We had all confessed our fears in the car, and at the first sign of it being traumatic we'd agreed to make a mad dash to Sydney Road for coffee and cake!  It's good to have Plan B's in life sometimes.

So, in we walked and mingled.  I could see some familiar faces and after initially letting my nerves get the better of me, I dashed to the bar.  Yep, socialising can be easier whilst holding a drink.  I found a friend I have kept in regular contact with over the years, and another I hadn't seen since year 11.  It was nice to chat to them.  I think everyone fears or suspects that reunions will be about sussing out who is successful, happily married, divorced or gone bald.  One interesting thing is that Facebook seems to have kept most people up to date with the general information. Where we work, live and our relationships etc.  So most of the conversations I had on the night were about other things.

I saw someone look at me across the room.  She smiled and began walking towards me.  It took a while to realise the name that went with the face, but once I figured it out I was thrilled.  I'd spent one summer holiday getting to know her, back when I was 14.  Our parents both camped at the same caravan park, so it was a fun summer of looking at boys and giggling.  It was lovely to catch up and find that we still had a similar sense of humour and dry wit.  I had mentioned how I was nervous and feeling like my shy teenage self.  She looked at me surprised.  Sometimes it's funny to see yourself from the outside.  I guess I was always fine with friends, but intimidated by other people in the room.

We watched as the blonde popular girls arrived and all screamed and hugged each other.  Funnily we had formed into the similar groups we had at high school.  We were all leaning over to each other, whispering "Oh what's her name again?" or "who's that guy?".  We managed to remember most people, but I think there were many mysteries in the room.  Some people had left the school in year 10 or 11, and had been in different grades.  I was prepared for many people not to remember me...and there were some blank stares in my direction.  However, hilariously one person remembered my name but I had no idea who she was...even after someone said her name!  I guess that sums it all up really.  Some of the girls were saying that we'd all aged better than the guys.  I think this is a bit harsh.  I looked around the room and saw people in their 40s, with all sorts of life experiences.  I was in no position to throw stones from my glasshouse!

The reunion was held at a beer barn in Essendon, the suburb of our high school.  There was a bad covers band playing, which made conversation almost impossible.  Some of us watched while the 40 year olds hit the dance floor to Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams and Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield.  At least it gave us music lovers something to point and laugh at.  I sought out someone who I hadn't really spoken to in high school.  She has however friended me on facebook, and been quite lovely about my blog and writing.  I met her husband and we were able to transcend the online comments, and  actually talk in person.  How gloriously old fashioned of us.

We had chatted until we were raspy and losing our voices.  It was about 11pm and the friend I'd arrived with had signaled that she was good to go if I was.  We began to say our goodbyes.  We moved across the dance floor (thank god the band had ended) to say farewell, and of course got chatting to more people.  And that's when it happened.  There was one question I'd kinda feared all night.  A girl who I'd never spoken to at school said hello.  She asked if I was married (yes) and then asked if I had kids.  "No" I replied, hoping that would be the end of it.  "Oh, is there any reason you haven't?" she probed, putting her hand to my elbow.  "Circumstances" was the answer I had been practicing in my head for weeks.  I bit the inside of my lip. A nervous habit I seem to have picked up in recent years.  "Well, that's ok..." she replied.  She said something else, but the roar of discomfort in my head, blocked it out.  The fact is it's kinda not ok with me, but you know that's how life is sometimes.  This is something quite confronting for me to mention here.  People are always amazed at what I write about, but I've managed to keep this information to myself, husband and my dear friends.  I have had moments where this has been too painful to write about, even though I've contemplated it many times.  We all have something that we wish was different in our lives.

My friend and I moved on, heading towards the entrance.  The smokers were all out there, and it seemed much wine and champagne had been drunk.  More chatting, hugs and laughs and then were were safely in my car.  We had managed to have a good night, mostly.  I walked away with a few more facebook friends and a smile on my face.  A good result all things considered.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I have spoken with friends from time to time, regarding who they see themselves as.  Not in a self-perception way, but who do they feel like inside.  More often than not the answer is a teenaged version of themselves.  For some, it's their fifteen year old self, or maybe even as old as early 20s'.  But for me it's about seventeen.  I do still feel at times like the 17 year old me in my head.  I have grown and changed and come a long way since then, but when push comes to shove, I retreat to that nervous and shy teenager.

I've been thinking about this lately, as my High School reunion is coming up next weekend.  I can barely believe it's been 25 years since I finished Year 12.  Where the hell did those years go?  A friend Vicky and I organised our 10 year reunion, back in the days before the internet and facebook.  We tracked people down by telephone books, by mail and email, and got people to pass on the message to anyone they kept in contact with.  We aimed for the Year 12 class, as that was hard enough work.  But this saturday includes anyone who was in our grades from year 7 - 12.

I have to admit, it has me a little anxious.  Yes, we are all in our 40s now; fat, balding, divorced, single, successful and average - I'm sure there will be people spanning all those categories.  But maybe what freaks me out most is, will I fall back into being the girl I was in high school when confronted by these people from my past?  Somehow this event is like opening a time capsule.  I'm not afraid to look back at my past, as I have a lot of fond memories.  But I guess I'm more comfortable being the person I am now.   I like who I was back then, but I can do without the crippling shyness.   I was quiet and in some ways I'd be surprised if some people even remember me.  I guess I'm nervous as I fear old social hierarchies.  How stupid is that.  I've also heard on the grapevine that someone I was really good friends with is coming.  I had a falling out with her when I was about 22 or 23.  It's so long ago I can hardly remember.  I'm curious how that one will go.

Well, there's only one way to find out.  It's funny to see how this has gotten into my head.  And it probably says a lot about me.  The 17 year old me still looms large sometimes.  But maybe the 42 year old can show her how to talk to people and smile.  How the world wont end if things don't go right, and how all the experiences I've had mean that I'm not as afraid as I used to be.  I have plenty of people who love me, and some very special friends.  I guess there are times you have to face awkward things and test yourself.

Perhaps it's a chance to chance perceptions.  Maybe I'll see how far I've come since 1987, and maybe other people will too.  Maybe we'll realise that some of the crap we hold on to doesn't matter any more.  We're all busy living our lives, doing our best, hoping for happiness and finding ourselves.  Peter said how happy he was when he turned 40, as he let go of a lot of things.  He just didn't need to worry about stuff, or hang onto the things from the past.  There has to be some perks to getting older.  Maybe on saturday I can put the lid back on the time capsule.  Maybe I'll learn to stop judging myself.  Maybe I'll show that the shy girl found her voice.  Maybe, I'll actually have a good time!  

Maybe I'll say I invented Post Its...

P.S.  I'll report back... from me and my 17 year old self