Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reconnecting

Today I had lunch with two high school classmates, whom I haven't seen in at least 15 years. As I mentioned in a previous post, E and I have been corresponding since she sent out a mass email seeing if there was any interest in a get-together to celebrate our 25th reunion. We work near one another so we planned to meet for lunch. She also invited M, a male classmate of ours with whom she has a business relationship that has become a friendship.

I was a bit nervous but not as much as I thought I would be. It's silly to be so nervous in the first place, but in the past I would have been paralyzed by the thought that I wouldn't be funny/interesting/smart/whatever enough. Luckily time, experience, therapy and meds have all helped my self esteem tremendously. The three of us met and I discovered that we all look like we did in HS, yet not. We're all recognizable to one another but we're certainly not kids anymore. Throughout the meal, I felt comfortable talking with them, even though they had more to say to each other since they know each other as adults.

Remembering my high school days, I feel sad that I wasn't able to come out of my shell. I was the quiet, smart fat girl who was afraid of so many things. As a small child I was thin, but in second grade I started gaining weight, so I spent most of my grade school years either being tormented or ignored. In HS I was afraid to speak up lest I bring attention to myself; that usually got me mocked. I did have friends but always felt like I was on the fringes of my friend groups, never feeling like I was a part of any group. I was sure that people didn't think about me if they didn't see me. Our HS had a lot of cliques. All HSs do, but ours was really "good" at it. I saw a therapist during my senior year about various issues, and she told me that my HS was well known in the local therapy circles. Sad, eh? It was a great place to get an education but so many of us suffered more angst than we might have elsewhere.

When I was in HS we were assigned one locker for our entire four years. My class was unlucky; our section of lockers was at the far end of the school. It was difficult to get back to one's locker and back between classes to switch books, so many of us ended up carrying most or all of our books every day, at least the ones for all of our morning or afternoon classes. There were times during the day when there was time to visit the locker, like at lunch time or during free periods. I usually carried all of my books however, thanks to a group of boys who parked their butts on the railing of the big windows on the way to our lockers. They were a year ahead of me, and considered themselves "cool". They thought it was great fun to make fun of me, and gave me their very own nickname... Whalebone. I would ignore them the best I could but it was mortifying to hear that name being yelled down the hall after me. I hated those boys. Hated them. Funny enough, I ended up inadvertently getting revenge on one, who was kind of the king of the assholes. I had been working at the Clinic for a few years, and had my desk in an office that I shared with another person, on the other side of a dividing wall. It was an okay office, nothing special but I did have a window with a view of the "splendor" of the inner city. At that time, I was responsible for copying employee files when we had a subpeona to respond to. One day a law firm was asking for a file and sent a courier to pick it up. The courier walked in and it was none other than the king! He remembered me and told me how great it was to see me, how nice my office was, etc. I was almost speechless at his friendliness. It wasn't until he left that it struck me. Here was Mr. HS god, working as a courier for a law firm. I don't think that any gainful employment is bad or shameful, but it really tickled me that for all his " I am king of all and better than you, fat girl" that he really didn't do much with his life. It made me glad that my best days weren't behind me.

So after this most interesting work day, I picked up the girls and came home, only to remember that we needed to go to pay respects to our next door neighbor's father. Fortunately the funeral home was only a couple of miles away, so we headed over. This was the girls' first experience with calling hours. Carly was interested in the guy sleeping; she pointed to him and wanted to go over to him right away. I had explained to Becky what would happen and told her that she didn't have to look at the body if she didn't want to, but she was okay with it. We talked on the way home about how Mr M's spirit had gone to heaven already, and that his body was left and so he would be buried. It was all very low-key and for that I am glad. I grew up attending various family funerals and have memories of running around in empty viewing rooms with groups of cousins, of eating sugar cubes, and of being fawned over by older aunts. As a result, seeing dead people in caskets isn't really traumatic for me. It's an attitude I want to pass on to the girls.

We got home to find another opportunity to reconnect. In the mail was a card from one of my mom's cousins, inviting us to a cousins' reunion at her house, about 2 hours from here. I haven't seen most of my mom's family since my grandfather died in 1980. I did get to see/meet some of them last fall, which was a wonderful experience. My mom kept very much to herself; we had very little contact with her family, other than receiving holiday cards. Lots of reasons for this, which is all for another post, but unfortunately my sister and I have only a hazy idea of all the extended family we have. Several years ago, sis decided to start working on geneaolgy and My mom's cousin B has done a lot of research on my maternal grandmother's family, so my sister started looking up records of my maternal grandfather's family, who were from Ireland. Incredibly, on a family-tree board she found a cousin, who lives in town! We met with him and his sisters and exchanged emails for a while, then we both suddenly stopped hearing from them, as though we'd offended them. I know we won' t have that experience again, so I think I would like to go to this reunion.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Liz, this is Linda and I was that same girl in High School only thinner. just as out of place, scared and on the fringe. Not fun, is it? But look how fabulous we are now!!! Congrats on your scan and I can't wait to see you on the 12th. We'll have fun. See you there.