Reunion : A gathering of the members of a group who have been separated
Ah another date by which we measure our lives. The number of years we have been out of school... a decade, becomes 2 and so on. 2014 marks 20 years since I sat my final exams and my finished final 12th year of school (thinking of which it means technically I'm actually only out of school 20 years next year!).
Be that as it may it was our 20th reunion tonight. I opted out of going. It's hard to explain why without perhaps sounding pompous but it does start with my boundaries. This year has been a turning point and one of the biggest issues I've dealt with was weeding out what wasn't good for me - even if it meant the end of friendships and relationships. Deciding on whether to attend events or decline. Knowing that while I may let people down in the process I had to keep myself at the top of the pile regardless... I had to keep asking myself "Is this what I want? Or am I doing it simply to please others?"
Feeling a bit nostalgic while I lazed around today I dug out our old school song... and the 2nd verse stands out :
"Strong are the friendships we forge, deep are the memories we share"
So I got to thinking about that. How strong are those friendships and memories? We were probably a class of around 80 or so. I can't even remember. Of my 214 Facebook friend list only 9 are old school friends. On my cellphone only 2 have my number.
Of the 15 who went to this reunion these are the stats in relation to me :
Linked via Facebook with 4
Of those facebook links I have seen 2 in the last 20 years on a fairly regular basis.
The other 2 I have semi-caught up with since FB came along. In fact of the 2 I've semi-caught up with I'm meeting 1 next weekend for the opening of a photo exhibition.
Of the remaining 11
1 was my best friend
2 I went to primary and high school with (so that is a dozen years of memories)
The remaining 8 - I have the odd memory but certainly not even acquaintance level friendship either at school or in the 20 years since. In fact I'd most likely walk past some of them and not even recognise them in the street.
So what is school to us? Why do we build up these romantic nostalgic memories of our school days? I hear myself tell my boys, "Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. Enjoy your school days. Take part in as much as you can. You will miss it one day." What absolute bullshit. I don't miss it one bit!
I wasn't bullied or a freak but nor was I one of the popular kids. I didn't drink, smoke or bunk. I got good marks through hard work. I enjoyed the study part of it, taking History, Geography and Biology for Matric, but then again I still love to study and read. I had a few friends - I didn't need a big circle. I had a steady boyfriend all through high school so was spared the angst of multiple break ups and make ups. So a steady, predictable, 'nerdy' school life.
Reunions are like blind dates. Angst ridden affairs where you find yourself flinging outfits across the bed. Wondering if all your lumps and bumps are going to be noticed. Is your makeup too heavy? Will you laugh too loud? Added to this pressure is the knowledge that these people you knew you way back when... before you had kids, got divorced, lost your job.... You feel exposed and judged and worst of all by your peers .
It is in fact like family...
School is like your family - you are thrown together by circumstance, not choice! And for 12 long years you have to make the best of it (sorry the family you stuck with for life). After you've done your 12 years it is then up to you whether to stick around or run like hell.
I'm not running. However I'm being selective in my association. I understand that most if not all of the ladies who went tonight probably had their own misgivings and self-doubts. We're all human after all. For me though I'm not allowing my inner crone to indulge in the angst... I'm stepping beyond it and out of reach.
Yes memories are wonderful but some are best left in the past. I will never be that 18 year old girl who walked out the school grounds for the last time in December 1994. There are things that have happened to me that I don't wish to share with people who have essentially become strangers. I spent at most 5 years with them. If I hardly knew them then, I surely don't know them now. Those who were and are important to me I've kept in touch with.
For the rest I wish them only the best that life has to offer. Those that have managed to keep the bonds of friendship long may they last and be treasured. Friends do come and go. It isn't a sin. It's life. Here's to the next 10 years. Maybe I'll feel the urge to attend the 30 year reunion but somehow I doubt it...
Life is about growth, not stagnation. The past keeps you grounded and gives you roots but you have to keep reaching out and growing.