Twenty Years Down


My twenty year high school reunion was this past Saturday. (Yikes.)

I did not go.

I watched the Facebook Live video and perused a few pictures that people had posted.

Yesterday, I got the run down from a friend and found out one of my crushes was there. Bummer, I thought initially. Quickly followed by, what difference would THAT have made?

Truth be told, I had A LOT OF CRUSHES in high school. It was obnoxious. But this particular person I always sort of kept it to myself. I felt like maybe it was mutual, but who knows. We were seventeen.

Anyway, our conversation got me thinking about high school more. People I sort of wondered about. The big reason I didn’t got to the reunion was that every time I saw someone respond to say they were coming I had a negative reaction, remembering I didn’t really like them or vice versa.

I had plenty of enemies. I don’t recall doing anything specifically, other than being very outspoken and loud. I’m sure some of these girls found it intolerable. Truly, the feeling was mutual.

I wasn’t popular or uncool, sort of a middle-grounder, participating in everything from sports (tennis and bowling) to music (choir and Madrigals) to student council, National Honor Society and theater. I got pretty good grades, though was definitely in the lower bracket of my AP and advanced classes.

For math, I went an alternative route where as a sophomore I was in a lower level class with juniors. It got me out of advanced algebra, which I surely would have failed.

As we named names of people we were curious about, I remembered Jodi.

Jodi was in one of my classes for some reason, which was weird because we didn’t overlap in anything else. I think it was freshman or sophomore year.

Jodi was cool. She was a cheerleader, but also smoked. She was gorgeous and I think half Asian, though we never talked about it. Nothing about our lives intersected when it came to school or friends or clubs. But there she was, sitting in the back of the class, sometimes saying she liked my highlights or something I wore. It was always fleeting and certainly not an invitation to talk more.

I hadn’t given her much thought until this reunion came about.

Point being, I realized I didn’t REALLY know a lot of people I went to school with. I knew their names and faces, their reputations and the rumors. But even people I talked to almost daily, I probably didn’t know that half of it. What their family dynamics were like. What their struggles were. What their opinions were about the world.

And they didn’t know me. I didn’t know me.

I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I could go back and do it all again. It wasn’t the best of times. But it wasn’t the worst either.

If I could take all the knowledge I have now and be a teenager, I think I would try to be kinder and get to know more people.

I wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking about boys and trying to get them to notice and like me.

I would have slept less in AP Bio, just to not seem like such an asshole to Mr. Haraburda.

I would have been way nicer to Cheryl, who lived down the street from me, who was nothing but nice, but for some reason, I found it so easy to pick on her for no reason.

I would have stopped being jealous of Janel because she just wanted to be my friend and couldn’t help that she was pretty.

I would have respected my bowling coach more because it was a thankless job and she really believed in and supported me.

I would have tried to find some balance in maintaining my friendships with all of the truly awesome girls that were in my life those four years.

I would have (maybe) practiced piano more.

I would have waxed my eyebrows.

I would have stopped thinking I was fat.

I would have been kinder to myself and maybe it would have been easier to do the first thing on this list.

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