Saturday, May 10, 2014

Class Reunions… Land Mine or Comfort Zone?

I wrote this yesterday.  I was in a pensive mood.  I wasn't sure if I should post it because I'm not sure it makes any sense and I managed to confuse myself.  But here it is, confusion and all…

Some people would rather forget their high school experience; others enjoyed it and have good memories.  I have mostly good memories of high school.  I had friends and interests and activities I enjoyed.

I have a class reunion coming up in September.  Of course, I am going to go.  I went to one once before, years ago, and it was interesting to see how people I knew had changed.  I thought many of the women had grown up to look exactly like their mothers.  My first unthinking reaction was to call them "Mrs. so & so" rather than their first name. Of course, a lot of people gain weight and some of the men have lost their hair.  Others had blossomed, goslings turned to swans.

Still, it's not easy going so far back into the past.  Everything you have done and everything you have become since high school recedes into the background for a time, and you revert to the you that used to be before you grew up all the way.

I felt something like that when I moved back to the area where I grew up.  I had lived away, in other states for twenty years.  In a way, I had recreated myself.  I left my "old" self behind, not that there was anything wrong with it. As I grew older and gained wisdom I realized some of the things I did when I was younger were foolish.  I was able to push them away because I was in a new place with new people.  Everyone who saw me saw the "new" me, not the "old" me.  Then, when I moved back close to my home town I realized I might see those who knew the "old" me. The shiny new me began to wear off a bit, and some old insecurities started to come back.

Several years ago I decided I wanted to change my name to "Renata" because I read that name means "a new beginning" or "reborn".  (I didn't do it, though.)  It makes me think of Jay Gatsby, who had reinvented himself and given himself a new name.  Would Gatsby have gone back to a high school reunion?  I doubt it.

Afterthought:  I don't relate to Jay Gatsby in any other way.  I feel more like Nick Carraway, the midwesterner who comes to the east and has his eyes opened.  This blows my analogy because I don't think Nick would need to reinvent himself, oh well.  I liked him the best in the story, and I thought Sam Waterston was the most charismatic character of all, playing him.  Nick would have gone to his high school reunion, so maybe I am more like him after all.  (Whew!)


rachel said...

An interesting post - personally, I wouldn't ever go back, not to a school reunion or anything that might catapult me back to an old me - the current me is authentic enough, I believe, but can live without the reminders of less certain, less confident times, with so many mistakes and stumbles. But I look forward to reading about your reunion next September!

judy in ky said...

I share your thoughts about going back. When I lived in Philadelphia I had no interest in coming back to the past. It's funny though, when I moved back to my home area I began to feel differently. I'm not sure how I will react to the reunion. I will let you know here.