Saturday, 29 November 1997:

Ten Year High School Reunion

So Friday night I went to my ten year high school reunion. I attended Newton South High School, in Newton, Massachusetts; Class of 1987. It was a pretty upscale place, especially for a public high school, and it was very clique-ish, as I recall. I was one of the misfits (of course), although perhaps less so than many of the people I hung out with. I worked on the "official" (as opposed to the "independent") school newspaper, for instance.

As I've written here before, I didn't really know what to expect from the reunion. I was pretty sure that hardly any of my good friends from high school would be there. Two had as much as said to me that they had no intention of attending. Nonetheless, I'm always curious to see what effects time has wrought on things and people, so I did decide to go. (I joked earlier in the week to a friend that the ten-year is a down payment on the 20-year; at this one you see who's gotten married, who has kids, where their lives and careers are going, and so forth. At the next one you see whose careers have crashed and burned, who's on their third marriage, etc. I just hope it's not me in that boat!)

I was pretty nervous going into it. I was resolved not to wear an outfit which included a tie, so I decided to go the sweater-and-slacks route. And then I got seriously lost driving to the location in downtown Boston (in my defense, the signs from the highway were very misleading). But find it I did.

The thing that struck me first was how few names I could put to the faces. The thing that struck me hardest, however, was how many other people recognized me immediately! Honestly, I did not think I'd made much of an impression on many of these people! It was flattering, but strange, too, and kind of embarrassing.

Several of these people said they'd checked out my Web site. Okay, I did kind of advertise it over the mailing list, but I wondered whether this was a good thing, or a bad thing. Turns out my on-line verbosity surprised no one; a few folks have seen me elsewhere on the net, which didn't surprise me since I've been a presence for the last eight years and have cranked out many megabytes of text in that time, in many different fora.

There were a couple of people there with whom I'd spent a fair bit of time in high school, who I hadn't thought would be there. I spent much of the evening hanging out with them; naturally, they're both computer jocks now! I spent most of the time hanging out with Mark Clancy, who is a consultant who does serious traveling for his job. I'm just the opposite, having little interest in traveling. Mark and I both showed up basically out of curiosity, to see how people turned out, and to see if anyone showed up we'd like to see, but hadn't thought of ahead of time.

Almost everyone in the class looked much like they did in high school. Yes, some were noticibly older (although at age 28, "older" means "more adult", rather than "getting on in years"), but there were fewer receding hairlines than I'd expected, and now many beards. No one had put on - or lost - a whole lot of weight (I probably gained more than anyone else in the last ten years). A few people looked exactly the same as I remembered.

Of the class of 315-or-so people, I guess maybe 80 showed up - about a fourth to a third of the class. Not a bad turnout, I guess! Of these, the majority were married, engaged, or had a significant other they'd brought along. Two brought along a guest of the same sex, and one woman was listed in the class booklet as being involved with another woman. This was mainly interesting to me because in high school I had no idea whether people were gay or straight. Indeed, it never even crossed my mind, although in retrospect, two of the three specific people in question did not surprise me in the least.

A significant number of the married couples have kids, or are expecting kids. Three couples apparently already have two kids, and one other is expecting her second. I'm still getting used to the idea that people my age are married; it seems to me that none of these people are old enough to have a "kid license"! Okay, I'm joking, of course, but it is profoundly peculiar given my own (arguably) slow-and-tentative approach to relationships (never mind kids, which I don't think I want to have anyway).

Many of these people were ones I'd had only casual interactions with in high school. There were about a dozen people with whom I'd gone through all of grade school, K-thru-12, and most of these I knew and recognized instantly, even if I didn't know them very well. At one point I was approached by a couple women out of this dozen, though, and one I recognized and the other I did not. (In fact, I had thought that one of her sisters had been in our class; where is my memory going? How embarrassing!) It was kind of strange to be approached and addressed so warmly by people I haven't seen in ten years, and whom I didn't really know all that well way back when. There were some people I had talked to once in a while and had taken many classes with, but there were others it seems like I hardly talked to at all back then - nothing against them, just different social circles.

It feels like this is coming out worse than it's intended. I think I am just still agog at the different way in which social interaction worked at this reunion, compared to how I interact to everyone else I encounter. There was nothing wrong with it - heck, it was kind of neat in some ways - but boy, in some ways it was very strange.

Okay, I do wonder if everyone - or at least all the single people - checked out the members of the opposite (or appropriate, if you will) sex at the gathering. There were a few women there I'd found attractive in high school (a couple who I sometimes wondered if they found me attractive from some of the signals I thought I detected back then), and yes, they are still attractive today. But since I live all the way out here, and the majority of my class still lives in the Boston area, it's pretty much a moot point. Which I guess made it a little safer to look.

What else? There were photos taken of people, grouped by the elementary school they'd gone to. Also, the DJ played 1980s pop for most of the evening; I mostly can't stand 1980s pop music - or the alternative stuff, either. That made it doubly surreal. Toward the end, he played Billy Joel's "Time To Remember", which was apparently the keynote song at our prom. When it was announced, I turned to the guy next to me and said, "We had a prom?" Needless to say, I didn't go. (I had very little interest in dating back in high school, and I had - and still have - roughly zilch interest in dancing.)

I'm still not much of a crowd person. I felt comfortable approaching some people, but not others, and there was definitely some feel of clique-ishness at the gathering. I felt most comfortable around the couple of other use-ta-be-misfits, and the people I'd gone through elementary school with. But every so often I had to stop and remind myself that no matter how uncomfortable it got for me at times, imagine what it was like for the spouses who were attending!

Overall, the group was more-or-less as I'd expected, though perhaps with fewer lawyers in it. They're a pretty good group of people, although no longer the larger social group in which I live, of course. Life goes on.

Still, the 20-year reunion should be quite interesting!

But perhaps not more interesting than my drive home afterwards, when I blew the turnoff for the Mass Pike and ended up careening southbound until I was in an area that I felt I could reasonably turn around in without fearing for my life and health. (Get off the highway in Dorchester? Yeah, right!)

The remainder of my vacation was pretty calm. We had a pretty large Thanksgiving dinner, which was pretty yummy. My Dad come over for it, as did an old friend of my Mom's and her son.

Friday afternoon I went into Central Square in Cambridge to visit my old friend Charley Bandes. We had lunch and hung out catching up on things. Charley works in the computer game industry, which makes for interesting stories at times.

Saturday my Dad and I had lunch together and hit a few comic book stores, including The Outer Limits in Waltham, MA, which is an excellent comic book store, possibly the best in greater Boston, except maybe for The Million Year Picnic. I found a number of Avengers back issues and reprints I've been looking for; still no sign of those other Marvel Masterworks hardcovers I want, though. I may have to wait 'til they're re-issued, unless I get lucky on the net.

My Dad drove me to the airport tonight, and we hit some really bad traffic, eating up all of the time cushion I'd allowed, and then some. I got to the check-in counter ten minutes before my flight was due to take off, and I was afraid I'd miss it, and certainly concerned that my luggage would get lost somewhere. Well, in fact I got to Madison and my suitcase came out fairly soon, so all ended up well on this trip.

And boy, are the cats glad to see me! Great little guys, a lot friendlier than my Mom's cats, when you get down to it.

And now it's quite late Saturday night (Sunday morning, really), and I must get off to bed. But I will certainly resume writing more regularly now that I'm back!

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