I am freaking out.
It snuck up on me, I swear. I knew it was coming; it shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare, to wrap my mind around it, psych myself up for it.
So how the hell am I so unprepared?
My class reunion is less than two weeks away. My thirtieth class reunion. A reunion that was supposed to be really really special for me, because I was going to show up all slim and successful and in-your-face about how great my life is going. Instead, I’m fat, unemployed, newly divorced, and scrounging returnable pop bottles for the gas money to make it to Kalamazoo for the big event.
Some of you may be doing some quick math in your heads. Yes, I am 48 years old. I’ve been coy and evasive about my age up until now in my blog, but what the hell. I am 48. Things are sagging, creaking, and sprouting hair in places and ways I never would have believed if it weren’t happening to me.
I want to wear something that makes me look spectacular, but I just don’t think there is enough Spandex in the world to squeeze all of the saggy, creaky, hairy stuff into the kind of outfit I envisioned myself wearing for this event. No, there is definitely no Little Black Dress on the agenda. Oh, it’s black and it’s a dress, but it’s not so little. I’m wearing it because it makes my boobs look great, provided I can secure the proper permits and heavy equipment necessary to lift them into the special “cleavage bra” that I reserve for just such an emergency.
I’m hoping that some spectacular cleavage will blind everyone to the enormity of my ass.
In truth, I have to worry about three perfect outfits, because I am attending three events that weekend. Maybe four. That’s right; we are making up for thirty years of apathy in one big weekend. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that we haven’t stayed in touch over the years, considering that our unofficial class slogan was “Out the door in ’84.” In reality, it was “Dream and explore in ’84,” but I don’t think anyone really took that seriously.
It bothers me that I don’t know who my class president was. I think it’s the very tall man whose locker was next to mine for six years, but who never learned that my name wasn’t “Heidi.” Six years of side-by-side lockers, often standing or sitting next to each other because no names where going to come between “H-Y” and “I-A,” and he never figured out that my parents didn’t name me “Heidi Hyde.” Seriously, Dude.
I had a crush on another boy, from ninth grade on. At our graduation ceremony, I finally worked up the courage to approach him and tell him about it. Now, keep in mind that we were backstage at Miller Auditorium, wearing matching caps and gowns. I said, “I just want to tell you that I have had a crush on you since ninth grade.”
He said, “Really, what school do you go to?”
I think I may have dodged a bullet. However, one of my reunion goals is to get a kiss on the cheek from him. Or at least a hug. Fine, a handshake will do. Okay, I’ll be ecstatic if he remembers my name.
I may cry if he thinks it’s Heidi, too.
I wasn’t exactly invisible in school, but pretty close. I didn’t play sports, didn’t date, didn’t get nominated for homecoming court. I didn’t even go to homecoming games other than my Sophomore year, when the football team went undefeated and it was easy to get swept up in the excitement. Even though I was a theater nerd, I didn’t do school plays because they were always Musicals and my last attempt at singing and dancing at the same time has been ranked among Michigan’s Top Ten Worst Natural Disasters.
A few days ago, I whined to a friend about feeling like a failure as I face the upcoming reunion. She laughed at me.
“Dude,” she said; “you wrote a book. You survived a tree falling on your head. Lighten up, Dude.”
Did I mention that this friend holds a PhD? Back in school, she used to call everyone Dude, and high-fived my face on more than one occasion when we’d had too much to drink and she forgot how short I am.
God, I miss her.
But she’s right. I’m alive to go to my reunion. My best, dearest friends from ‘way back then are alive. And Dude, ain’t none of us where we thought we’d be by now. I’m not the only one to gain weight or lose a job or get a divorce. I’m not the only one struggling with insecurities.
I may be the only one packing myself into the super-bra.
Christy and Lori beat breast cancer. Dee didn’t. Tosha and Holly married the perfect men and lived happily ever after. Inger and I didn’t. Anita became a nurse and somehow became even more beautiful at 48 than she was at 18. Most of us didn’t manage that.
But the point is that we’re all human. We’ve all failed at some things, and we’ve all succeeded at others, and somehow we’ve all muddled through and grown to become exactly who we are supposed to be at this point in our lives. We grew up, despite our best efforts to the contrary.
I’m nervous about the reunion. If there was a diet plan that could make me drop 80-plus pounds by August 1, I’d be all over it. But I refuse to be ashamed of the way I look. I am going to go, and I am going to have a great time, and I am not going to hide every time a camera comes out. After a few drinks, I may even start bitch-slapping anyone who calls me Heidi.
Afterward, I may end up calling 9-1-1 if I can’t get the bra off by myself. But I’ll make sure there are no small children or breakable object anywhere in the vicinity so there are no damages when the boobs are finally released back into the wild at the end of the night.