Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reunited, and it Feels so...Weird

Okay. Many of you have asked, why a 14 year reunion and not something rational, like 10, or 15? Do we have a penchant for even numbers, perhaps? Weeeeellll. My class at Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, CA was...how do I say this? Full of stoners? Not that into shlocky group stuff? Needed 14 years to be willing to see these people who were present for the most miserable years of our lives? Something like that. We tried for ten, we made it to 14.

We gathered in Memorial park with no crepe streamers or bad early nineties music. There were some yearbacks tossed hither and yon, and we did have nametags bearing our sad, pudgy, pale-cheeked senior visages, but for the most part you can say it was low-key.

As soon as we turned onto the street near the park I began to get jitters. Those, "will I be able to handle this" nerves. As soon as we parked and I could actually see a few faces I recognized then I started muttering under my breath, "oh god this is weird!"

Because there is no way around it...if you hang out with 50 people whose company you last kept when you were 15-17, you're going to feel those old 15-17 year feelings at least for awhile.

My first impression was as if everyone had been scrubbed and starved. Everyone looked like themselves, only...older and for the most part, thinner--with a few exceptions :) I mean there was the much admired "it-girl", still quite beautiful, though now radiating "mother," a bit more than "sexy" with her once long golden ringlets shorn to a sensible throat-length, and tall good-looking husband in tow. There was the still All-American surfer guy with white teeth and sun-bleached hair with crow's feet and a life in San Diego, quick to tell us how he was still "free of commitments" while flashing his un-ringed finger.

There were a number of moments where someone approached because you looked familiar but they couldn't quite remember who you were or if you were their friend. There was the awkward hug, the tense silence and then the question: "So, where do you live now?" and the inevitable, "And what do you do?" I confess it was gratifying to say, "I'm a writer," and mean it. I got a number of, "I always wanted to do that's...

Many people still live in Marin, and the more I heard people discussing how they still see various people from HS, the more relieved I felt that I left. I can't explain why and I don't mean to disparage Marin entirely (but a little), but there's a kind of film or veneer over Marin that I can't stand to get on me.

But there was also Jenn Moore my Sophomore year best friend, still boldly herself with that funny little girl voice, an awesome mod top on, her hair dyed black, still wrinkling her nose at babies and suburbia. Of course she owns the funky/hip consignment store in San Anselmo that she once was just an employee of. It was fun to see her. There was Liz Holmlund, my chatty and possibly too-smart friend always good for a piece of trivia or a laugh, with her comic-book penning husband and 17 month daughter, hazel. And Kelly Moore (not related to Jenn), my best friend for most of high school, who I've actually seen many times over the years as she lives near my dad in Fairfax, so it doesn't count as a surprise, still a free spirit.

One fun moment was seeing Ben Colteaux, with whom I had a strange animosity. It was sort of like we wanted to be friends but couldn't accept something about each other, so mostly we gave each other shit--and he won out on the nastiness end of things. Still, I asked him to Prom in my junior or senior year, because the boy I was going to go with (not from my school) was, I kid you not, in jail for trying to sell acid in his hometown. Nice. So I asked Ben, as a platonic thing, because let's face it, I was not going otherwise, but then he simply never called me back. So apparently I wrote something rude in his yearbook, which he pointed out, and I could tell that 14 years later he actually felt BAD, as in, he'd thought more than once about this event, and this pleased me.

But I had some nice conversations with people that I had always felt the inkling of a connection with in high school but the various bs that ran our lives then made it impossible for us to really deepen those friendships.

Then there was the one sad fellow, prematurely balding, red-faced and pudgy with a beer in his hand with a cloud of pity following him as blackly as Pigpen's dust cloud in Peanuts. Everywhere he went, crowds thinned and conversation died. I tried at first to talk to him, but soon it became just too painful. He might as well have worn a sign that said, "Abuse me."

The best example of seeing someone I had no connection with then or now was when I passed this girl, Sara, and we looked at each other and at the same time said, "Hi, nice to see you, well..." and literally trailed off mid-sentence and walked away from each other with a shrug that said, "look, we don't know each other, so no biggie, right?"

But do you want to know how I honestly felt at the end of the day? Thank god I'm not still involved with most of these people. Not because they're terrible, because they remind me all too potently of those horrible days when I was a miserable insecure mess. I have problems still, but I felt so much more, well the only word that came to mind was "whole." I feel like I know who I am, what I'm capable of, and I feel like I truly have lived up to my potential and done the best I can with my life. I didn't feel regret, or as if I was being reminded of all the dreams I'd held then, because quite honestly, I've lived my life exactly as I wanted to.

That's damn lucky!

P.S. the few photos I have will be uploaded later when blogger is cooperating.


At 5:44 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

You're very brave to go....

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

I guess. Maybe I'm making a bigger deal out of it than it was, I don't know. What was brave was my husband spending 3 hours with me there!


At 11:57 AM, Blogger Patrushka said...

I was happy to read the last sentences. It's not very often that people can say that they have lived their lives exactly as they wanted to. Excellent.

I had one of those meetings not too long ago and I was transported to my feelings as a teenager and I had the same reaction as yours. I didn't like it.

It may not be nice but it serves for showing ourselves how we, hopefully, have improved and grown.


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