July 2012


I missed my 20th high school reunion.

I was vaguely aware that 20 years ago I graduated from high school – and that there would be a reunion of some kind.

There was: it was this past Saturday, and I missed it.

Even had I been within reasonable range (5,000 miles is not, 50 is), I wouldn’t have gone because I detest these types of events where I’m expected to make small talk with people.

Honestly, having attended the same high school at the same time as our common ground is not going to make it easy for me to talk to you. I’ve drifted so much away from Denver and what one might be able to talk about: Broncos? Who gives a shit? Rockies – my team, but I don’t check up on them too often. Water rights? Well… maybe I could talk about those, but really, not that many people can carry on a conversation about water rights. I can also talk about how I’m planning to use my 29 vacation days this year, but I find that tends to make Americans in America jealous, and that’s before I start talking about German health care.

That aside, one of my few High School Colleagues who I am friends with on Facebook posted a link to our photos from the yearbook, and holy cow – I had bad hair taste: it was all poofy. I am so happy that I keep my hair short now and that I can afford to go to a fancy stylist every four weeks (although, even though I can afford it, I usually let it go five weeks and end up wishing I’d only gone four).

Beyond that I looked at the 298 graduates from my high school and I must confess that I don’t remember that many of them – admittedly I was in a magnet program and basically most of my classes were with the same 60 (or so) people, but even then… I can only definitively remember 25 of them as having been in my classes. There were a few more that I remember going to elementary school with, but that’s it.

So say that I remember something like 30 out of the 298 (or so) graduates from my high school, but that 30 is generous – I only remember some because their name vaguely rings a bell, but if you were to ask me what classes I had with them, I would be clueless.

Is this normal?

Am I that abnormal?

15 comments to I missed my 20th high school reunion.

  • Reko

    I was happy to be able to miss my 10th high school reunion because I was in Iceland. I attended my 20th high school reunion and lost interest in about an hour or so. I’m not sure whether they had a 30th one — I think they did — in any case, I did not attend.

  • A fancy stylist every four weeks is abnormal. Or I am. Yes, it’s probably me…

  • Mateo

    My 25th is next summer. I may actually go this time. As long as they don’t drag out the high school pictures!

  • No, you’re not that abnormal, here 🙂
    I can hardly remember a lot of people from my past, why? well times passes & you’re not obliged to play with bones, just because they were looking nice ones (or so)!

  • MT

    I have yet to go to a high school reunion – mostly because it is usually during football summer practices and it’s a 6 hour drive (give or take). I probably remember more folks than you do (I floated around the fringes of the various clicks, given the fact that I was in Honors, involved in sports, and was disaffected like Daria), but if you asked me how many close friends I had in high school, I’d say 2 — and while I am facebook friends with one of them, we don’t have much in common anymore.

  • MT

    P.S. — And I am fairly certain that my late 80’s southern girl hair was much, much bigger than yours.

  • MT

    Although, obviously, my honors days did not stick with me: re: clicks. I need to go to sleep.

  • Reko – Awe, Reko — but you would have been the belle of the ball, had you gone!

    Irish Berliner – 🙂 I have a thing for getting hair cuts — they are awesome, and my Berlin stylist gives the most incredible head massages — I practically melt in his hands. That said, I adore your hair and it looks like it would be incredibly awesome to run ones hands through — I would have, but I suspect you wouldn’t have appreciated it.

    Mateo – I suspect that a high school reunion without photos is like visiting an ocean without water. 🙂

    Martin – What shocks me are the number of people that I seem to have actively forgotten. Most of my classes were with the same group of people, so I should remember far more than I actually do. (And, I might note, there is a definite gender imbalance in my memory. I remember more men than women, but I never had a crush on any of my classmates.)

    MT – I was like Daria (even if Mateo was actually Daria) as well… I suspect that I tend to forget people pretty quickly unless they’ve either made a huge positive impression on me (the high school friends I’ve friended on FB), or if they annoyed me due to their stupidity. I don’t actually keep in touch with many people from my past, now that I pause to think about it.

  • Corn

    Adam – I remember you, as well as a number of my classmates, even though my circle of friends was probably just as small, if not smaller, than yours. And had you gone to the reunion, and had I gone, we could have talked about queer theory, vacation time, health care, and Germany (although, to be honest, all of my knowledge of Germany comes from my Bavarian neighbor with whom I walk dogs and raise chickens). Envy of European social programs doesn’t always have to lead one to bitterness, resentment, and retrenchment into a reactionary nationalism.

    But I think you sell your classmates short – at least the IB classmates. I credit that program with broadening my perspective and engendering a curiosity about the world, it’s people, its literature, and its history (despite our “World” History class having overlooked a few continents). I suspect that many of our classmates would be the same; certainly the IB students I’ve encountered in my travels have shared a similar outlook.

    As for hair, I can’t help you there. I vacillate between letting it grow 6-12″ or using the #1 on it. Consistency in hair style is not one of my strong suits.

  • Thomas

    I went to our 20th reunion and the 10th too. It’s a profound milestone experience and I hope that you can make the next one. I didn’t collect any phone numbers or reconnect with anyone, but it was a great moment of connecting with the person I that used to be and the life that I used to live. Lots of surprises too in seeing where life has taken my classmates. No competition either; just understanding and compassion. Even from people I hardly knew or hardly liked.

  • Is a magnet program for metalheads? I’ve never heard of the term. 🙂

  • Corn – I could never forget you for a number of reasons — and you are one of a few high school era friends who’ve I asked to be friends with on FB. In my experience I find that I must tread carefully when talking about life in Europe (a path I never would have dreamed happening) as I find that a lot of Americans dismiss it out of hand — “They’re socialists” is a reaction I got from somebody who was trying to get into my pants when I mentioned the German health care system (he didn’t get into my pants). As for selling my classmates short, you’re absolutely right — I do, but it’s hard for me to overcome my memories of what school was like. (And, I might note, that I’ve lost track of most of my undergraduate friends–the friends who have stuck the most are the ones I made during my (incomplete) doctoral studies.)

    BTW, if you’re ever in Germany, I’d love to hang out, and I hope that if I’m ever in MA, we can hang out.

    Thomas – My problem is the small talk aspect and dislike of large parties. In my life I tend to max out at about 20 people; more than that and I am uncomfortable to the point of wanting to leave early (and I have). Generally though I’m much more comfortable in groups of 5 to 10 people. I think its the introvert in me.

    Ian – In the US educational system, a “magnet program” is a program designed to attract students out of their assigned school in order to attend a different school — I was assigned to East High School, but attended George Washington in order to participate in a magnet program. Usually it is intended to change some aspect of the student mix, say encouraging minority students (however that is defined) to attend a high school that is lacking that dimension. It could be racial, but it can also be socio-economic classes.

  • Michele J

    I hear you on the dislike of chitchat and large parties. That said, I went to my 20th and it was a very positive experience. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t remember everyone but everyone seemed to remember me. Our class president who came out after university was there with his partner, as was a dear friend who also came out later in life with her girlfriend. I didn’t pick up on any macho posturing or weirdness. Thomas puts it nicely: it was an interesting opportunity to reconnect with who and where I was half a lifetime ago. Plus I cleaned up at the poker table.

  • Stacey L

    I have attended all my reunions. I just went to my 30th and I will say that “Living in Germany” was a great conversation topic. I think at my age we are starting to realize that it is difficult to make new friends and hey! there are some people that I liked from way back and they are already friends! There is talk of getting together again in the fall because people enjoyed themselves.

  • This is plenty normal. I went to my ten year reunion and I only remembered about 20% of the people. And they tried to do another reunion right after Facebook became popular, but I think it fizzled. Facebook sort of makes the reunion mostly pointless, because not only do you no longer need to go somewhere to catch up, but if you DO go, you have nothing left to talk about.

    (Not to mention the fact that there are people trying to friendly on Facebook who couldn’t be arsed to take five minutes to talk to me when we were in the same school for four years, let alone all these years later. Don’t get me started on these wonks.)

    As for the hair, don’t worry about it so much. In my senior year of high school, I had a *mullet.* There’s a reason it’s in the past. 😀