My high school reunion was this weekend. I didn’t go — not because I didn’t want to (I sort of did), but more because of money and scheduling problems. I’m moving to New Canadian City next week, and my to-do list seems to be spawning new and more horrible things to do every time I open Google Tasks. I am rapidly approaching my capacity for adult responsibility,* and a trip to the airport right now would probably have pushed me over the edge.
So I’ve mostly lived the reunion vicariously through Facebook. And, much to my surprise, a woman I knew in high school expressed outright dread of attending. We’ll call her N.
I was shocked that N. might be afraid of attending our high school reunion. From my geek’s-eye point of view,** N. was one of the cool kids. She was loud and funny and confident. She went to all of the parties that I was never invited to. She hung out with kids who wouldn’t give me the time of day, but was always friendly towards me and wrote really nice things in my yearbook that I still remember. Everyone liked her. According to Facebook, she’s got an awesome job and a serious romantic partner. What, I wondered, could possibly be tempting N. to stay home?
And the wondering made me realize that I have no idea what high school was like for N. Maybe the parties I secretly envied weren’t all that much fun for her. Maybe there were snide comments, broken friendships, hurtful rumors spread. N. was the kind of person who made high school suck less for people like me, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t suck for her.
I’m suddenly itching to ask everyone from my high school about their experience. Did the “popular kids” love it like I assumed? Did they even see themselves as the “popular kids”? What about the cool kids who didn’t seem to care what others thought — did they really not care? In short, what did I miss by assuming they were the ones who had it easy?
Maybe nothing. Maybe some of them did have it easy, did love every minute of high school. But I suspect that most of them, like N., didn’t have nearly as smooth a path as I thought.
* Anyone who isn’t familiar with Hyperbole and a Half needs to read this post, about dealing with responsibility and pretending to be an adult. Ever since reading this, Econo Man and I have run around the apartment declaring our intention to “clean ALL the things!”
** Lest you doubt my geek cred, let me spell it out. Debate team. Math team. Honor Society. Video games. Fantasy novels. Ayn Rand novels.+ Didn’t touch a drop of alcohol until college. I was definitely not on the A-list for high school parties.
+ I know, I know. I’m going to use the “I was fifteen!” defense here.