Saturday, November 29, 2008

15 years is a long time. Right?

Tonight I'm going to my 15 year high school reunion. This morning I checked the evite hoping that someone that I was friends with would be there. It didn't surprise me that most of the people who confirmed that they were coming I either didn't remember or ran with a totally different crowd. And the reason that this didn't surprise me was that during the four years I spent at Dominican High School I spoke to maybe five people.

I went to six different schools from 1st grade through 12th, and I spent the majority of that time walking around by myself being taller than everybody. I was made fun of a lot by other kids, even other unpopular ones because I was lower on the nerd food chain, but what I didn't know then that I know now is that I kept myself in that place. The more they made fun of me, the quieter I became, the taller and more awkward I felt until eventually being quiet, awkward, and funny looking was how I defined myself. If my 33 year old self ran into a 14 year old version of myself I would call her a late bloomer. At 14 I called myself a loser. I didn't even make good grades like nerds were supposed to. I just daydreamed and stared out the window wanting to be somewhere else.

It wasn't like I never had friends, but they were few and they were more like people I talked to if I had to, like if I forgot a pencil and had to borrow one, or if I was forced to pair up with them in chemistry lab. That was before I discovered Kristen and Jennifer and we became The Bullshit Bandits. The Bullshit Bandits is another blog for another time, but let's just say that the three of us felt equally out of place in the world, and hated other girls we went to school with (it was an all-girls school - more cause for angst) who seemed so stupid and yet so sure of their place in the world. It was around senior year we began to write The Daily Dominican Obituaries, a ficticious, newspaper with fake, ridiculous obitiuaries about girls we didn't like. This was the inside joke among the three of us that I've based my young adult book on. I've changed a few things. The original D.O.'s were written from a nun's point of view and they were about students at an all-girl, Catholic school. In the book, The D.O.'s are written from the students' point of view at co-ed, public Martin Dylanson High School. But the premise is the same.

So. I'm going to show up at this reunion tonight. Since I've become much, much, much, much, MUCH more outgoing in the last fifteen years I'm not too nervous about walking into a group of people I don't know that well without Chris, Jennifer or Kristen. Jennifer lives in Tenessee, Kristen has fallen off the face of the Earth, and husbands aren't welcome until two and a half hours after the reunion begins. I'm also sure that these people have changed as much as I have, and that most likely real life has beaten down the snootier ones. What I'm unsure about is if I should tell these ladies that the novel that I'm working on, the one that I've gotten the most professional interest in, is based on stories I wrote 15 years ago in which some of them died. Because I thought they were bitches. How would that conversation go?

'93 classmate: You wrote what?
me: An obituary about how you choked to death on a fake fingernail.
'93 classmate: I died?
me: Yeah, but it was only because I thought you were a fake bitch back then. I think you're totally cool now. And I don't write that kind of stuff anymore Well, I mean I am writing a book about it now. But you're not in it. I kill off other kids. Who are based on you. They're in my head.
'93 classmate: [silent]
me: So what do you do now?
'93 classmate: I'm a therapist. Here's my card. Call any number other than that one for help.

On second thought, maybe I'll tell them that I'm writing a western. I'll let you know how it goes.


biggearhead said...

I love that conversation. It's far more interesting than any I had at my 20th this summer. The band ended up having a gig an hour earlier than I'd thought, so I had to leave early, which was right when everyone was showing up. I ended up (not at all intentionally) talking to three guys I hung out with in high school and grade school. Nice, but nothing more than the kind of conversation you might have if you ran into them at the video store or something. No one choked on anything.

melissa bastian. said...

i avoided my tenth as if it were actually a cloistering of souls infected with the black plague. not that they particularly bothered to find me or anything - i was told by one of the very few people that i still speak to from that era that he'd gotten an invite. oh, how my heart ached to leave NYC to attend a crappy party in suburban maryland... can you tell how much i liked high school?

I went to... lemme count... six! six schools between k and 12. it's like we're soul mates.