First of all: 25 years? What the fuck. How did that happen? Etc, etc.
OK, temporarily got that out of my system. Can’t talk about the reunion without throwing a fit about my mortality.
My initial memory of AJJHS: Sitting alone on the pavement with my back against a wall, in the shade cast by some boys standing over me asking, “Are you Paula Cluck’s sister?” Finding out later that poor Paula Cluck was the ugly one. She looked 40, weighed about 200 pounds and had a pizza face. School pictures of me back then show an eager sweetness, and a remarkable lack of terror behind my eyes. Always the optimist, always trying to fit in, and always falling a little short, which set me up for a lifetime of, how do you say…. “Issues.”
So, without further ado, here are some affirmations and instructions for both the younger me and the, um, “now” me (who has made the monumental decision to attend my very first reunion), based on my high school experiences, as remembered from the distance of 25 plus years.
To Young Me: Stop trying to fit in. There is a saying you’ll come across in later years, and it goes something like this. Be yourself. Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind. You won’t believe this for a moment because you’re a stubborn bitch of a teenager and your hormones are completely out of control, but I have to say it anyway.
To Now Me: Stop trying to make your relationships work, “no matter what.” It’s not high school. He is not the only boy around, and in fact, no boy has ever been the only boy – you just believed he was. You have always been smart, funny, a little offbeat, and had a lot to offer. Now that you’re 40-something, you’re actually allowing yourself to believe it and say it out loud. Now the behavior needs to match. You are no longer the new girl. You don’t have to latch yourself on to whatever man will pay attention to you. You never had to do that, but you thought you did.
To Young Me: It’s okay to be the mean girl every once in a while. Mean girls have more fun, and are invited to more parties, have cuter boyfriends, and have way cooler clothes. You’re a good girl through and through, but it’s okay to tuck away the sincerity and openness and wear a shell. It’s high school, for Christ’s sake. Everyone wears a shell. Oh yeah, and everyone wears a shell. Especially in high school. Remember that.
To Now Me: No more shell. You are who you are now, and who you are is pretty bangin’. No more faking it…in or out of bed. Self-protection (in and out of bed, I’m sounding like a fortune cookie) is important, but fergodsake, enough with the pretending. It had its place, and its place is 1981.
To Young Me: Play sports. You know you want to. You’re watching your brothers out on the ball field and you’re just itching to get out there too, but you tell yourself – I can’t hit, I can’t throw. Well find someone and ask them to teach you. You are a hundred times more coordinated than you think you are, and you’ll eventually learn that. And the bonus is, good friends, a healthier body, and some pride in your abilities. You could use some of all of that.
To Now Me: You are absolutely fine, just the way you are. Do not try to lose a pound before you go to that reunion, missy. If you lose some weight through eating healthier (and let’s be honest, Tostitos and a chocolate malt is not a proper lunch, hello!) and training for your next 5K, then great. But you are SO OVER changing yourself to fit in with your high school classmates. I sincerely doubt they would expect you to.
To Now Me: Rent that convertible. This reunion is YOUR time to laugh, dance, and mess up your hair. Convertibles are great for the last part.
To Young Me: Just fucking ask him to dance already.
To Now Me: Just fucking ask him to dance already.
Stay tuned for more deep reunion-related thoughts…like, “OMG, I CAN’T BELIEVE I BOUGHT THE PLANE TICKET!” and “AM I GOING TO RECOGNIZE ANYONE?!”
Deep breaths. Affirmations. It’s all good.