Here’s a weird thing to say out loud. I think I was a cool kid in high school. I didn’t know it at the time but as my 20th high school reunion approaches and the boxes of memorabilia have come out of the attic, I have had to face the truth. That girl who spoke graduation weekend and got good grades and had a few nice boyfriends and friends in lots of different cliques – she was lucky. If I am honest with myself (or if I look at a high school yearbook with a discerning eye) I think I was, gasp, popular.
So, I should be excited about my upcoming high school reunion, right? I even got conned into kicking around ideas with the planning committee, now if that doesn’t scream “in crowd” what does? I should really be looking forward to this, right?
So, what gives? I can’t be the only one that feels like I might throw up and has a knot in her stomach. (Ha. I never censor myself. And I just did. See? I must be nervous. It’s not a knot in my stomach. It’s a week’s worth of shit. And about 12 teaspoons of Metamucil. I have a friend that gets vicious diarrhea when she is nervous. I am jealous. It seems I am having the opposite problem.)
What am I afraid of? It’s not seeing the people I knew in high school. The 20th High School Reunion no longer holds the mystery it did once. I am unlikely to be emotionally sucker-punched by an old flame or startled by the icy chill of a former friend. The internet has kept us in touch as much as we’d like to be.
It’s me. I am afraid to go home and see me. High school me, that girl with so much potential.
I am in a good place. I have fought hard to make peace with who I am and where I am and I no longer make self-deprecating jokes about figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. I am in a really great marriage. I am proud of the mother and the wife I have become. My athletic endeavors give me something to make small-talk about. I feel pretty good (discounting the turd baby, of course.)
But fuck, I am nervous. I really don’t think I am scared to see a bunch of people from high school. They weren’t scary then and age has tempered most of us by now. It has to be me.
Does she look scary? I mean, she looks kind of bitchy, but I don’t know about scary.
So, here we go, 2oth High School Reunion Weekend. Listen up Kelly circa 1994, your hair looks smoking, I will give you that. And you look like you have had a decent night’s sleep in the last decade. I will cop to being super jealous of that. But you don’t have this one thing that I have now. You didn’t know what you wanted. You thought you wanted to be an actress so that you could pretend to be all kinds of different people. You thought that if enough people said “You’re so talented” or “You’re so funny” or the holy grail of teenage self-worth “You’re so pretty” that it would be enough to make you happy and it never, ever was enough.
But this life, this family, these people that love me – this is so much more than enough. This is all that I ever wanted. And I have it. I won’t return triumphantly home to say “Look at me, look at me and my fancy self and my great big life” but instead… Instead I will try to listen. I will say “How are you” and “tell me about your life” and “show me a picture of your kids” and I will let my smile speak for itself. And I hope that when someone says “Did you see Kelly at the reunion” that someone will reply “Yes, she looked happy.” I also hope that nobody says “Sure, she looks happy but it seemed like she was full of shit. Seriously. Full. Of. Shit.” One can dream, right?
To my fellow classmates, I am looking forward to seeing you. Please, feel free to tell me a poop story as soon as you see me. It will level the playing field. Seriously.