Next month, the weekend after Thanksgiving, my 20 year high school reunion is slated to take place in Louisville. Let me repeat that so that shock can sink in: twenty years. Consequently, there has been a flurry of recent activity via email and, of all places, Facebook as members of my high school class seek out one another and send missives and messages about The Big Event. If you know me at all, you can probably safely guess that I'm not going. Logistics aside -- it's a long trip and we have family slated to come here to Michigan for turkey day and blah blah blah -- I'm just not the reunion-y type. I don't even watch TV shows where people reunite. Truth be told, I didn't love high school and I'm wildly suspicious of anyone who did. I mean, you meet those people for whom high school was the best years of their lives and I can't help but think they've done something wrong since then. At the very least, college should have been way better if for no other reason than lack of parental supervision and access to greater quantity and/or quality of drugs.
As much as I like to play that tiny violin, high school probably wasn't as torturous and lonely and miserable as I like to make it out. It's possible -- nay, probable -- that I had some fun, I had some friends. How bad can the years be when you first get high, smoke menthol cigarettes until you vomit or drink Bacardi 151 until you pass out? Good times.
In fact, I'm finding that I probably had more friends than I remember or maybe than I realized at the time. (Although I think time blurs all that and when you can't really remember people from high school, you all just act like you were friends even if they kicked your head in and stuffed you in a locker every afternoon.) I do think that there is a necessary and natural selection process that occurs post-graduation. You stay in touch with the people who meant the most to you or, if nothing else, with whom you spent the greatest number of Friday nights, and if you fade out of each other's lives, then Darwin would approve. After all, the odds that we as under-developed teen social blobs would know enough about ourselves and the world, let alone those around us, to form life long friendships are pretty slim.
That's not to say that I'm absent any curiosity about what happened to this person or that. But technology has changed the stakes in that game. If you really want to know what happened to a classmate, a quick Google search can often answer your question and, if you're so inclined, put you in touch. And the brilliant part is you never actually have to talk to them if you don't want to. So you can find out if that asshole from home room was nailed for insider trading but you don't have to feign civility over coffee. That's brilliant!
Now Facebook -- which I am sheepish to admit I enjoy immensely -- has added a whole new dimension. You can easily find classmates, "friend" them and sort of keep tabs on them without actually having in-depth conversations. It's deeply impersonal and completely superficial in the best way possible. It's often just the right amount of curiosity-quenching contact you want with someone you haven't seen in a coupla decades.
I've enjoyed exchanging messages with a few folk on Facebook, people I hadn't talked to since graduation. But it seems to me that we're sort of all caught up now, aren't we? I mean, we know where we are, what we're doing, all the major facts, etc. Which strikes me as the right level of information for relationships that exist squarely in the past. I'm not sure I see the point in taking it a step further. Yeah, yeah. I'm a curmudgeon.
I wonder sometimes if I'd had a happier high school experience, would I be more gung-ho about attending reunions like these? Maybe. All I know is that I'm finding ways to satisfy my curiosity without getting up fromm my desk. I'm not too crazy about that part of my past anyway and I really, really like my present. So I figure I'll just hang out here for now.