Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Not That Girl Anymore

Ok, let me tell you something about high school.  It was NOT the best time of my life.  It was, in fact, horrific.  I wasn't involved in sports (surprise!)...didn't play in the band or sing in the choir...was never invited to a party or asked out on a date...and was ditched by just about each and every "friend" I ever had when a potential boyfriend or girlfriend came on the scene but was expected to always be there for those "friends" when said potential relationships didn't work out.  Looking back...I think I looked like a extremely skinny boy...with bad hair, bad skin, and chipmunk cheeks.  I had less than zero self-esteem.  No one paid attention to me unless it was to make fun of me...sometimes behind my back but most of the time to my face.  I pretended that I didn't care but every hurt registered and each was filed away.  I'm sure this comes as no surprise to anyone who has read my ramblings for longer than six minutes...none of those hurts were ever dealt with.  I survived my high school career by having a very loud, very smart mouth and by making other people laugh.  Hey, it worked...if I had them laughing about someone or something else they weren't laughing at me.

And so, for these and millions of other reasons, I'm sure you can see why I never saw the need to attend any of my high school reunions.  My excuse was always the same, "I've kept in contact with everyone I'm interested in keeping in touch with."  And believe me folks...don't think the sting was any less severe when for whatever reason I wasn't even invited to one of our early reunions.

When Mel's Walls came tumbling down last summer those old hurts were just as alive, just as painful, as if they had happened yesterday...and suddenly...I'm being told that lists are circulating via Facebook and email, searching for contact info for classmates for our 30th reunion.  What did I care?  I wasn't going...and the hurts just bubbled to the surface again because even though I was just as visible on Facebook and as many other former classmates...and I had received information about the last two reunions...and I still live in the same little town I grew up in...and am in the phonebook...I was on those lists of classmates they couldn't locate.

Well meaning "friends" took it upon themselves to tag me in 37 different notes assuming I would be interested.  I spent the greater portion of two months removing those tags.  I got tired of telling people I wasn't was the whole screaming into a vacuum thing all over again.  I finally received an email from my friend Jane who knows me well enough to put it into terms I'll respond to.  She said she knew I was hiding, but at least give the committee my information so they could take me off the list of folks they couldn't find.  Ok...I did it...I grumbled the whole time...but I did it.

I'm sure it was during one of those grumbles The Friend said to me, "You've got to go."  I said, "Where?"  He said, "To your reunion."  I said, "You're out of your *insert your own expletive here* mind."  He said, "No I'm not.  You're going."  I said...well, you can guess what I said.  This conversation was returned to numerous times over the span of a couple of months with phrases coming from him like, "You are the most stubborn woman I know!  You are GOING *insert another expletive here...or three*!

He finally wore me down and by late last summer I had decided I would go.  I still didn't want to go, but I was going.  I asked my  best friend from high school...that would be go with me.  She said she'd go if I forced her to but it really wasn't something she wanted to do.  I certainly couldn't fault her for those feelings.  I told her we'd have lunch the weekend after the reunion so I could give her all the details.  So, I would go by myself and face down all the noisy demons that had broken free...put those bad boys to rest once and for all.  I shared my decision with The Friend.  He was happy, but he still wasn't convinced I'd go through with it.  He looked me in the eye and said, "Promise me you'll go.  Trust're going to regret it if you don't."  If I remember correctly I rolled my eyes and said something to the effect of, "I said I was going!  OK?"

So, for the next year I kept it to myself.  I got sick to my stomach just writing the check for my ticket.  Every little reminder email that came in made me want to run screaming into my closet and never come out.  I think by the time the actual reunion rolled around I had told all of five people I was going...and that's not counting The Friend, or anyone who lives in my house, or the reunion committee.

The Reunion Proper was to be held on a Saturday night.  The Friday before, we were to meet at our old high school which will soon be no more, for one last tour and then an informal gathering at a local restaurant.  Just hours before the Friday night festivities were to begin, several other classmates convinced Sherri she needed to go.  When she pulled into the driveway I made her get out of the car so we could take pictures.  She said, "Geez you're bossy!"  To which I replied, "And you're just learning this now?"  But notice, she did get out of the car and have her picture taken.

The drive from my house to the high school takes about five minutes.  I was surprisingly calm after being a total whack job for the last year.  I asked her if she was going to go to the Official Reunion the next evening.  She emphatically told me she was not.  She had no intention of putting on uncomfortable dress clothes.  I said, "Sherri?  It's CASUAL.  I'm wearing jeans...and only a slightly less slutty top than what I'm wearing tonight."  She wasn't convinced.

We pulled into the high school drive and saw a decent sized crowd of who we assumed to be our classmates.  Sherri drove by slowly, beeped her horn, and we gave them all the parade/princess wave.  Did I forget to mention that Sherri was voted Class Clown?

I won't lie...the walk from the parking lot was tough.  My stomach was churning and I really wanted to run back to the car and go home.  As we approached the group, everyone just kind of parted, and there stood this guy I've known since...fourth grade?  Granted, I haven't seen him in 30 years, but as soon as he saw me he smiled and held out his arms for a hug.  I don't know why, but as soon as we hugged, I knew everything was going to be fine.  So thanks meant a lot!

Our old high seemed a whole lot smaller than what it did 30 years ago...even though they've added onto it since we graduated.  And it has this...funk about it.  I'd drive one of the bulldozers and knock that sucker down for free if they'd let me.  But it was fun walking around and watching everyone find their old locker and try to remember the combination.  At one point Mike and I found this stash of old cosmetology relics and were laughing like idiots...I'm still not exactly sure what some of the items were...let alone what they were used for.

Next stop, the north end of town to see who didn't make the tour and was waiting for us on the patio at The Restaurant.  Folks?  I'm going to tell you right now...I had one of the best times of my life that night.  It was was was insane...and I loved every minute of it.  I believe the phenomena I found most interesting was everyone there breaking into groups of three or four.  All the groups would then openly stare and point at the other groups, trying to figure out who the members of those other groups were.  After about five minutes, the groups would mingle and then break up into different groups and the game would start again.  Eventually everyone knew who everyone else was.  HA!  I think I won for being the person that the most people had no clue who I was.  After awhile it got to be a game.  Jane and another high school friend, Randy would start grabbing people, dragging them over to where we were standing and say, "Do you know who this is?"  Of course they didn't...they would blush, stammer, and stare blankly at me hoping the floor would swallow them. Randy or Jane would say, "You don't remember Missy?  Are you kidding?  She looks exactly the same!"  (I'd like to take this moment to remind you that there are very few humans in this world who get away with calling me "Missy"...and I'd also like to clarify that at least in MY mind, I look NOTHING like I did in high school!)  At one point I shared the conversation between Sherri and myself about what I would be wearing the next evening.  I was told that my slutty top was being enjoyed and that it's not every chick pushing 50 that can pull off something like that.  : D

Sherri and I took off around 11:00 and then, as we usually do, spent the next couple of hours in her car, sitting in my driveway talking.  Again, the same group of people who convinced her she needed to attend the informal function had convinced her she needed to show up Saturday night as well.  Yay!

The next night was really no different.  I reconnected with my freshman science lab partner.  That girl swears like a sailor...who knew?  Those of us who swear like truckers salute you Sue!  I laughed...I chatted with people I haven't seen in decades...I fielded compliments about my choice in slutty tops...I noticed that quite a few classmates have become absolutely human.  Of course, there are still members of my class who haven't changed a bit...but that was good to see as well.  One of my biggest demons walked up to me, called me by name, and shook my hand.  I was floored beyond belief...the demon remembered me without a nametag, was polite, looked like hell, and I just didn't care anymore.  Check.

Oh and make sure you check out my top, the bracelets and my watch!  Those are all treasures from my Totally Excellent Cheesecake Adventure!  ")

Jane, Mel and Randy

Jane apparently took this shot without me knowing and posted it on Facebook titled "Missy's Tat".  I guess it's only fitting.  She's the one who gave me my first tattoo by drawing it on the back of my neck in French Class.  No I'm not telling you about it.  She's evil...but I love her.  ; )

Mike and Mel

Would I have regretted missing this?  Absolutely.  Will I go to the next one?  Well...just wait and see...because as I learned not only from this experience, but from the last year...I am NOT that girl anymore.  ")

Hugs y'all,


Jay said...

I'm so proud of you, Mel! And your tops do not look slutty on you at all, they look great!! Love the green one!

How wonderful to be able to lay those ghosts at last. Good for you! I almost wish my old High School did reunions for my year...

Mel said...

Thank you SO much Jay...I have worked so hard this last year. For the first time, well, maybe ever, I'm comfortable in my own skin...and my slutty or not so slutty tops! ")

Twinks said...

You are beautiful..

(and I'm not just refering to your obvious outer beauty)

XUE said...

I think you look great & I love that lime green top! Warm wishes from Tokyo, Japan!

Mel said...

Xue!!!! It's been so long since I've had a chance to see what you've been up to...I'll bet you're creating up a storm aren't you? Thank you for your kind words. Sending long distance hugs!

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