Sunday, September 30, 2007

The reunion

I think that the ideal school reunion would be one in which all the nerdy students, the ones outside the circle of popularity, show up ten or twenty years later as highly successful members of society, leading exciting and glamorous lives. And the once-popular students can't make it because they're in prison for some spectacularly pathetic crime.

Last night I went to a reunion of a class of '77; the last time I saw any of these people, we were (mostly) innocent, fresh-faced 13-year-olds. In hindsight, I really should have done a bit of swatting beforehand because, of the 16 people there, I could only identify 4 or 5.

Everybody knew who I was right away. It probably helped that I was the only Chinese in our class. On the other hand, I couldn't remember M. who was the only Samoan. I still don't remember him. And two people I strained to recognise turned out to be complete strangers after all (spouses of my former classmates).

The boy I'd had a crush on went on to become an artist and movie scene-maker; the most popular girl in the class - because she had boobs - went on to become a truck-driver; the class bad-boy ended up in and out of prison; and our long-haired activist teacher became a politician. And, as usual, people said I look exactly the same as I did back then.

As everyone around me the recalled amusing anecdotes about the good old days, I started to wish I hadn't been such a goody-two-shoes. I also wished I'd had a better memory. To be honest, these people had ceased to exist for me after our last day of term. So I was amazed that anyone could still remember the class bad-boy throwing a desk at our teacher (then a bit of a hippie, now a politician), who the class clowns were and who spent lunchtimes snogging on the class couch.

I also wished that this reunion had taken place about ten years ago, when I was full of exciting travel stories and living a much more interesting life. Because 30 years ago I was living a damned quiet life. And here I am, back where I was then.

8 comments:

Cathi said...

I'm about to go through something similar - will be meeting friends I haven't seen since 1984 when we were 20. I haven't been in correspondence with them either until recently. I was putting it all off wanting to go back as a huge success or a mother or maybe just different from the rank and file.

I've also just seen some photos of people I apparently know from back then, and I don't recognise them. And they all look so happy and together and with-it. I haven't a clue what they all do for a living, and that made me realise it doesn't matter. I'm just as much or more of a success, I just don't measure that by money or house or power. I think I've turned into the hippie I professed to be at the time. And they'll just have to take me as they find me.

One advantage of living 25000km from them - if we don't get on, we don't have to see one another ever again :)

Make Tea Not War said...

It's not that unusual for people with small children to be living a fairly quiet life. Ten years from now you could be doing something dramatically different again.

My school year had its 20th reunion recently. I didn't go but I read the newsletter. I must admit I was pleased to be able to report that I was no longer single, childless or an apparently eternal student (as I was ten years ago)- but that was really all about my insecurity and I certainly didn't read my classmates profiles in any spirit of judgement (well except for the one guy that I really had hoped was in jail but who instead is a millionaire with a holiday home in the Bahamas. Grrr)

Nigel Patel said...

I feel crazy (like that's anything new) for trying to contact high school friends.
Reunions wouldn't work because they all graduated the year before me but beyond that I feel sort of sheepish with my total flailing away through life while lots of people are all settled and stable.

Violet said...

cathi: The distance thing really is a big advantage. I once bumped into the ex-girlfriend of an ex-workmate, and thereafter she turned up around every bloody corner! One catch-up at dinner was fine, but you don't necessarily want to make it a frequent thing.

mtnw: wow - the bad boy became a wealthy jetsetter, eh? Must've been a drug dealer...

nigel: you might think that lots of those people are leading "together" lives, but you don't know that. And they probably aren't going to tell you if they're not.

Angela said...

I sometimes wished I was more wild in high school. I was never popular but everybody knew who the blind girl was.
It is bad but I also wished lousy lifes on people I did not like a perticular ex to be exact.

Violet said...

angela: don't feel bad. It's very therapeutic to think that way!

Daddy L said...

Like you, I was one of only three Chinese in my graduating class, so everyone remembered me. but I did so much name-tag looking at my reunion too.

I was amazed how offended some people got when I did that.

Violet said...

daddy l: we didn't have name tags that evening! Yeah, I reckon B. must've been a bit miffed the second time I asked who he was...