Tomorrow is my ten-year high school reunion. I won’t be in Texas for it, unfortunately, or at the Indie City Meeting here in Chicago, because I have to work. I really did want to go, though, even though I’d look like a childless lesbian (INSTEAD OF LIKE A COSMOPOLITAN URBANITE) at Family Day, which happens sometime before Beer Night.
The girls who are organizing this dumb thing are all married, of course. They have husbands and children. Most of them are teachers now, and I have only just realized that their mothers were also (our) elementary school teachers, and that those grade-school teacher-mothers from way back then were, unbelievably, not very much older than I am now.
A couple years ago, the reunion’s organizers created a Myspace account specifically to tell us to start gearing up for the TEN-YEAR REUNION!!!!! “Let’s make this the most rememorable event ever!” the Myspace page chirped. I decided to leave a comment. “Hey does anyone have a baby I can borrow,” I typed.
Then, as July 24 neared, the organizers created a Facebook group. “From your senior class officers!” it said.
I realized in horror that this twee inscription was true: the girls organizing this event had absolutely been our senior class officers, and they still think of themselves as our senior class officers, because they really ARE still our senior class officers.
“I couldn’t believe it. It’s like if you were to die,” I explained to someone last week, “and when you died, you were a plumber. You died a plumber. Maybe you were also a writer and a lawyer earlier in life, and people might mention that in passing as they remember you, but the headline will say Area Plumber Dies because the last job you held was as a plumber, and so now you will always be that, forever.”
“Hey, Jenny Frank!” one girl wrote. “Are you planning to come to the TEN-YEAR REUNION? If so, I need baby pics!!! ;) “
I was a little annoyed when that arrived in my inbox. Did no one notice that I was adopted? Did no one notice that my mom, the high school guidance counselor herself, had a different last name and was twenty years too old to have been my mother? Baby pics? Where the fuck would I have gotten baby pics from?
What do I miss, hmm. What, indeed.
I really skated by in high school. I was no troublemaker, but I did get away with a lot. I guess I miss being able to do so much and, for a long time, not having to pick just one thing to be interested in or good at. I miss being the “youngest one” in every theater cast or rock band or literary club.
On the first day of my sophomore year, Mr. Bayne leaned out of his classroom and shouted down the hall, “Miss Frank! You look so lost now that all your friends graduated!” I used to think I might prefer attending the Class of 1997 Reunion instead.
I miss spending time with my English teachers. I went antiquing with my English teacher once.
When Sarah and Tamara were still around, we’d pack sandwiches and drive out to the beach. Sarah would roll her windows down and Tamara would light a cigarette, and I’d be in the backseat without a seatbelt, my hair whipping into my mouth, the backs of my legs stuck to the Oldsmobile.
Brian was one of my best friends. Sarah and Tamara would kidnap him every once in awhile. They’d follow him up the block, then throw him into the car, and they’d refuse to take him home. When Brian asked me to go trick-or-treating in the ninth grade, I excitedly accepted. He rang the doorbell, and I threw the door open, and there was that tow-headed boy, his arms bound to his sides in a straitjacket. In the meantime, I had followed Dick Smith’s instructions for applying crepe wool to my own face, and I was now a werewolf, complete with body hair and men’s dress shirt. Brian balked, then grinned. What a pair we were!
Brian and Tamara and Cassie and Tom and everyone were all at my 16th birthday party. Evelyn, who owned the German restaurant with her mom, brought out a cake topped with an enormous, glittery porcelain fairy sitting on top of an even more enormous unicorn. No one even laughed. My boyfriend Joel outdid everyone by giving me a record player he’d found in a thrift store. Oh, my god, it makes my heart hurt to think about.
It’s tough because you have to “come out” again and again.
I got so schnockered before reading at some monthly creative nonfiction thing, because otherwise I never would have thrown myself up onto that chopping block. After, people thought I had sounded really rehearsed and comfortable, but the truth was, I’d felt only panic and shame. Every time you tip your hand and really make yourself vulnerable, you hope the next time will be easier, and it won’t be, it isn’t. The more people who see, read, or hear you, the scarier.
I read almost all of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is incredible in itself because I don’t have any patience for Jane Austen. I do have a lot of patience for zombies and vampires, however, and especially for zombie/monster makeup.