At this point in time, a little more than a year until my 50th reunion, I am still up in the air regarding whether or not I will attend. Besides distance and ongoing health issues, there are other underlying reasons why I probably won’t attend.
To put it bluntly, my time in high school was not the joyous coming of age time that it seemed to be for others.
I know there are other student who feel the same way as evidenced by the relatively small turnouts at the previous reunions (20th, 35th, 40th)…perhaps a 150 or so (including spouses) at the 40th from a school that had about 900 graduates that year. I went to all three of these reunions but I am convinced there were hundreds of other students (still living within shouting distance of the venue) who didn’t attend. Why? I can only guess. Simple apathy. Anxiety. Maybe for reasons similar to what I will try to convey here.
How about this? The high school exerience simply wasn’t the Happy Days time that I am sure some people had. In fact I know they experienced it that way from reading the posts on the reunion Facebook page. “It was the best years of my life!” is what they say.
Don’t get me wrong, I relish the memories of growing up where I did (the west San Fernando Valley), I loved it and still think about to this day. I had a blast, even during high school years. But as far as being in school, not so much.
For whatever reason, I was not a part of the so-called “social scene” in high school. Why? I’m not sure. Shyness. Insecurity. Perception. It was’t until some years later and speaking to other students (not good friends just casual acquaintances) that I realized I wasn’t alone in my feelings. In fact, with a class that large, most were probably just like me…standing on the sidelines watching the “in-crowd” do their things. And those things were student government, clubs, elected officers, committees for this and that, yearbook staff, sports teams, cheering squads, and so on. Sure, you could say, “OK, so you had the same opportunity we all had, why didn’t you sign up for these things or go out for the team or some other “tryout”. Let’s face it, that social clique was a hard nut to crack. Most people were nice, accommodating kids…others were quite cruel and critical.
This social exclusivity did show itself (at least for me) at the reunions. I remember at the 35th…after a couple of cocktails I got the courage to talk to some people I always wanted to know better. Some of the encounters went like this, “Hi, I’m Jim Hansen…how’s it going?” With a puzzled look on their face, “Hmmm…nope…don’t remember you!” Remember that rich-kid pledge party scene in Animal House? Not far from the truth.
Despite all that, I have been active on the recent reunion page, and, over the months and years have developed a few “friendships” with people who didn’t give me the time of day in high school. Things change when we grow up. Despite my shyness in school, I got into radio broadcasting for many years. In fact, when I went into restaurant management/training, I came to like, even relish public speaking!
Like I said, despite my whining about being shy or not being a part of the in-crowd, I still went to the reunions. And, I still might attend the 50th.
There are some who might say, “At $150 a pop…why should I go? I only had a couple friends who, by the way, are not close any longer?” That’s the case with me. Except I have found a few new friends through Facebook that I would be obliged and anxious to meet in person! And I think the feeling is mutual.
Still, it is a bit discouraging to know that out of 900 or so students in our class, only about 100 have registered on the reunion website. At this point, of those registered I have no idea how many have actually committed to going. I don’t know what the national average is, but that seems low. Why? Couldn’t tell you. Probably apathy and some of the points I brought up here. I could also submit that at this age, a lot of people are not comfortable with the way they’ve aged. That’s a reality that we all bear to some extent. But the key word is “all”. Sure, there are a small handful who have weathered the ravages of time better than most, but that’s rare. We are what we are…old folks, most of whom couldn’t get into to their senior sweater in a million years! So what! It’s just the way it is. I personally am comfortable with the way my 66 year old self looks, but that’s just me.
I appreciate all the hard work our reunion committee has been doing. They’ve generated a lot interest, especially in reaching out and finding “lost” students. There is more than a year to go, a lot could happen between now and then. I hope at least several hundred can attend. Whether or not one of those will be me, I can’t tell you today.
If anyone reading this can relate, please also take this away. If you can attend the 50th reunion in October 2017, I encourage you to do it. There are many others just like you (and me) out there. Compared to when we were in high school, most people will not judge you…for any reason. Most of us have matured beyond that. I know I have.
If you choose to attend, go without any expectations except to have a good time. Don’t forget to bring your prescriptions, an address book of some type, and your party hat. And yes, most people “bail out” pretty early…dancing ’till midnight doesn’t happen often at a 50 year reunion!