i started the day feeling extremely anxious and was seriously entertaining the idea of not going to my reunion. just as parents mark the passage of time through their children, so too are these half decade class reunions a kind of measuring stick for personal development. and i knew going in that the maturation of my peers would not reflect kindly on my own life choices (or as the case may be, life indecisions).
from the evite, it looked like a third of my graduating class were planning to go, a third couldn't make it, and a final third was still undecided. besides the reason stated previously for not wanting to go, another excuse was the level of awkwardness involved in reunion participation. the last time i really connected with most of these people was 15 years ago, when we were all still in high school. most of these people i haven't seen in so long (not since the last reunion 5 years ago anyway), that there was bound to be plenty of, "nice to see you! what're you doing these days? where do you live now?" although i'm friendly with most of my former classmates, i've only hung out with just a handful, and the few that i'm still friendly with weren't necessarily going.
i actually think the people who don't go to these reunions are more interesting. those who are off the social radar are invisible for a reason, and that makes me want to see them even more. nobody goes through high school a complete loner, and cast a wide enough social web, theoretically everyone should be accounted for and have an opportunity to receive an evite. for instance, eugene massey. or gretchen ganshaw. or warren eng. where are you guys?
the only one reason i can think of for going to the reunion is probably out of a morbid sense of curiosity. i like to call it, "aging disgracefully," and makes me wish i'd taken more photos at the 5th and 10th year reunions, when we were all much younger, much skinnier, and much hotter than what we are now, which is, sad to say, middle aged (gasp).
i've never gone to my college reunion. my college graduating class was something like 2000+ students. out of those, i only knew a handful. however, for high school, my graduating class was 200+ students. even though i didn't hang out with everyone, i still knew everybody's name and history, precisely due to the fact that we all grew up together. i've known most of my classmates since first grade, graduating from 2 different elementary schools, a unified junior high, and then finally high school. that's 12 years of personal interactive during my most formative stage of life. though our lives have all gone off in multiple tangents, to some extent, i feel like these 200+ former classmates are still a part of my extended family. love them, hate them, or just simply indifferent, i can't escape the feeling that who i am today is shaped to a significant extent by the people who populated my world before i left for college.
the reunion was held at a VFW hall in newton. since it wasn't raining, i decided i could get there via motorcycle. the only thing wrong with that plan was the temperature: hovering in the 30's and dropping steadily. i wore 4 layers of jacket and 2 layers of glove. the ride to newton in the freezing cold was nearly unbearable, and at several points i thought about making a quick detour to my parents' place nearby to borrow their car instead. but by then i was so close to my destination that i clenched my teeth and pushed forward, figuring i could warm up by the time i arrived.
though i didn't want to show up early, that's exactly what happened (6:30). i caught andrew plunkett (class president), colin mahony (acting reunion coordinator?), keving drinan, and matt isendraff (sp) setting up the function room. there was in fact another high school reunion in the nearby larger room, newton class of 1987. andrew came around to collect the cover charge. with some of that money he ordered some pizza for everyone. there was a bar serving paid drinks and one of the bartenders was actually one of our former high school history teacher.
slowly people started showing up. tom noonan came with his wife all the way from florida. a former motorcycle rider himself, we shared some riding anecdotes. there was alexa zevitas, whom i thought was a rather shy girl in school, now an articulate lawyer. there was john wagner, whom i almost didn't recognize at first, the last time i saw him was over lunch when i still worked on broad street in the financial district. liz noone came with christina woods, i didn't realize they were actually good friends from way back. liz is a mom now, and christina is also a lawyer. andrew and maura showed up, finally some more personally familiar faces (andrew had called me earlier saying he'd come to the reunion, after i reminded him about it this morning while they were still packing for their big move next week). anand came with david corlette along with david's wife. anand showed us photos of his son. the next to arrive was renata with her husband. she asked if i've been doing anymore traveling. nick gilman gave me advice about online dating and talked about his pet rabbit. david rahbee took time to fly back from conducting in vienna to attend the reunion.
and this carried on for hours, as more and more former classmates showed up. even the ones that i wasn't particularly fond of back in high school, we still managed to put aside our differences (after all these years!) and at the very least pretend to like each other, if only for this one night. i had a hard time carrying on conversations as my attention would constantly be diverted to the next new person arriving to the party.
what's also interesting is what people do for a living. there were many teachers, which to me seems weird, because back in school, sitting in class, being somebody at the blackboard was the last thing i think anyone wanted to be. there were a few accountants, some programmers (or people affiliated with IT for whatever capacity), some musicians, some lawyers. no doctors though, at least nobody that i talked to. no scientists either. and of the teachers, no college professors amongst our ranks. several female classmates were stay-at-home moms. kirsten willander, nearly bursting out of her top, showed us a photo of her young son, and revealed that he actually does some modeling on the side. no military either, but if there was, maybe they're on duty. a few law enforcement, good to know. and does sky diving instructor count as a teacher? we got one of those.
raffi confessed his desire to get an iphone. alex delaney actually lives a block away from me in cambridge with her husband and 3 children. likewise, a very blonde anna haglund and her 3 kids are happy down in washington DC. still later, john wagner revealed to me that he himself has 2 children. christine rizzo wins the prize for the most number of offsprings with a magic number of 4.
i don't know the exact number, but from the people i talked to, i'd say roughly 80% of our class were married. out of that number, a majority also had children, some with recent firstborns, while other already on their 3rd and 4th child. that was probably the most depressing part of the evening, and exactly what i was talking about when i said reunions act as measuring sticks. nothing makes me feel a like a failure more when i see overwhelmingly how almost everyone is already married and many with children. i want that life too, but so far the path to typical adulthood has eluded me. sure, i own a condo, but one that i can barely afford given my unstable employment situation. marriage? well, i'd need a girlfriend first. children? let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. if nothing else, maybe this is a wake-up call. though the notion of marriage and children appeal to me, the thought of settling down doesn't. does that even make sense? for example, i'd love the stability of steady employment, but i'd yearn for the flexibility of freelancing/contracting. the reunion has given me a lot to think about. if 5 years from now nothing in my life has really changed, i don't expect to attend anymore reunions, just because i don't think i can face my peers. strangely, seeing everyone like this has renewed my interest in extended traveling, which is one of the perks of being unattached. i've never felt more alive or have a greater sense of purpose than when i'm exploring a strange city in a far away land.
when it came time for me to leave, i said good bye to as many people as i could (the ones who were still there at least). i passed by the other function room of the 1987 reunion and those folks seemed to have having a more exciting time than we were. i don't even think our DJ was even really trying, playing anything from the oldies to techno. doesn't he know that the class of 1992 LURV 80's music? and given the pace of technology, an unmotivated DJ can just as easily be replaced by a well-programmed ipod stock full of favorite 80's tunes. with that in mind, i layered on my jackets and headed out the door.
the temperature by then was 27 degrees. riding home averaging 45 mph, the calculated wind chill was 8 degrees (-13 degrees celsius). stopping at the traffic lights, my mouth was like a car exhaust, billowing plumes of condensation escaping from my lungs. leaving the reunion i was already feeling depressed, and the bitter cold just crystallized it that much more.
earlier today i visited the cafe to get some leftover thanksgiving turkey. i went with my father to cambridge honda to check out some cars. right now we're split between the honda element and the honda CRV. later my mother and i went to CVS to pick up a few items, before i went home to get ready for the reunion. other than that late lunch, i didn't eat anything else the rest of the day.