That’s So High School

I didn’t feel a burning desire to go to my high school reunion, as I’ve mentioned.

That’s not because I didn’t like high school. I took high school for what it was, pretty much: a way to go do something else. And make some friends.

It’s not because I didn’t like people with whom I attended high school. I had a circle of very close friends (we called ourselves ‘the claque’). As in any high school, there were cliques, of course: the uber popular girls, the jocks, the smart girls, the creative types, the burnouts.

Did I mention I went to an all-girl Catholic high school? That’s relevant.

Although there were these groups, these breakdowns that occurred along brain/beauty/talent and/or (yeah, I’ll admit it) class lines, everyone pretty much knew each other and got along. For the most part. (I was threatened with bodily harm after school exactly once. And, let’s face it, I called the girl a horse. I wasn’t an innocent bystander — although I didn’t exactly intend for her to overhear me call her that.) There was cross over; there were friendships among different levels of brains, beauty, talent and class. I would theorize that this happened for two reasons: 1. It was a pretty small school. My graduating class was only 150 girls (and it would have been 120 if they hadn’t closed the other all-girls’ Catholic high school the year before); 2. No Boys.

There was no competition for boys’ attention in the classroom. No agonizing self-consciousness there, either. Boys simply were not a day-to-day… distraction, let’s say.

Not that we didn’t like boys. We did. And not that we weren’t friends and girlfriends with boys; we were. And not that we were not jealous (envious? I get those two mixed up all the time) of other girls’ boyfriends. I remember quite vividly (and with a goodly amount of embarrassment) lusting after one of my friends’ boyfriends.

Also, I clearly recall thinking at one point, “These are supposed to be the best years of my life? ‘Cause, Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Not because those years sucked. But… come on. The best years of my life? Really? I was super skinny, awkward, brainy, and had pimples. I hid my self consciousness behind sarcasm. I didn’t know where I belonged or who the hell I was or wanted to be.

I was hardly the self confident hottie you see before you now. *snort*

Anyhoo, what high school was good for, for me: Discovery. I learned I had a love of reading and a gift for writing. I was encouraged in these endeavors by two teachers (Leigh Constantine and David Monteith — I owe them a debt of gratitude. I’m sure I’m not the only one). I was a smart creative, toward the top of my class; I wrote and edited for the newspaper, the yearbook, the literary magazine (hell, I founded the literary magazine); I dabbled in “theater” on both sides of the curtain. (Due to my height, and my short hair, I was cast as a man in one play. Afterwards, a mother of one of the other actors commented to her, “Oh, and the two boys in the play were brilliant.” Yeah, I was one of the boys of whom she spoke. The other was actually a boy — from the all-boy prep school in the area. I believe I went to his senior prom with him. Weird.)

I graduated, with honors. I left Erie — twice really; I did go back home after my freshman year in college. Not after sophomore year, though. No, Erie and I were pretty much through.

Ten years ago, I went to my reunion. I was single, child-free, and working as a writer. Many of the girls I saw that night were married, still in Erie, some with children. It struck me at the time as a weird dichotomy.

Two weeks ago, I was persuaded to go to my high school reunion. It was more fun than I had suspected it was going to be. I will admit to not recognizing the majority of my former classmates. I, frankly, am shocked how many of them recognized me! I don’t think I look much like my senior photograph, that’s for sure.

For a while, I surreptitiously checked out names tags (which also had our high school senior pictures on them — that was unique torture). Finally, I just consulted with H and M. And then (after dinner, and after a couple of glasses of bad wine) I mingled.

It was pleasant. It seems the majority of my classmates are married (some divorced); many have children; many have found homes outside of Erie, but just as many are still (or, as in H’s case — back) there. I was glad I went, and glad I got to spend time with H and M. I felt comfortable and at ease among my former classmates. I don’t remember being sarcastic once!

After all, these are the best years of my life, so far.