My feet look like sausages this morning. Swollen, aching sausages with funny tan lines and some majorly cute coral-colored polish. My spine is on fire, my ears are ringing, and my throat is raw. I have a monster headache, and there’s something vaguely Sharpei-ish going on with my face.
I had a helluva good weekend.
I stood too long, drank too much, talked too much, slept too little. I made some pretty awful jokes, laughed at stupid things, and learned that some men are very uncomfortable with jokes about female incontinence. (Apologies to your husband, Bonnie.) In fact, there were a lot of jokes about incontinence and the need for Depends. At least, most of us were joking.
Talked about boobs a little too much, particularly my own.
The first night of the class reunion began with vodka and cranberry juice on an empty stomach, and moved quickly on to mead. Not my smartest move. It was hot and humid, but it was a lovely Beer Garden full of people who were all just as nervous and excited as I was; the alcohol flowed rather freely that first night, and I made a point of jumping in front of every camera that was raised.
I struck up a conversation with the man who used to tie my shoes for me in Kindergarten because my dexterity was just as bad then as it is now. He still has shockingly blue eyes and I really shouldn’t have been quite so pleased to learn that we are both divorced. I think I scared him away, because he didn’t return for the second night of the reunion.
Two complete strangers told me they were disappointed because they had really expected more cleavage from me. I guess I’m flattered they read my blog, but I’m a little creeped out.
Just a little. It was actually pretty cool to realize how many of them had read and enjoyed my work. And my cleavage, apparently.
Thirty years ago, I would have recovered from this weekend much more quickly. A little tomato juice, a couple of aspirin, and a whole lot of either Mountain Dew or Diet Coke, depending on where I was on the insecurity scale with regards to my weight. Of course, when I drank like that thirty years ago, my recovery also involved hiding the empties from Mom, pretending that I wasn’t hungover, and trying to swallow the very greasy breakfast that Mom always cooked on mornings when she suspected a hangover.
For me, the best moments of my class reunion were those moments laced with irony.
Four of us women giggling in the pre-party hotel room, slinging back vodka and cranberry juice with the occasional shot of Rum Chata, talking about Spanx and push-up bras and comparing notes on who held onto her virginity the longest way back when (for the record, I won). There were catty comments and dirty jokes about our sex lives (or lack thereof) and lots of selfies. And then it happened.
It dawned on us that we all four wore our “cheaters” to look at the pictures on our phones. Despite the Spandex and make-up and hair extensions and glitter in cleavages, we just weren’t young any more. We had not hidden our age by one day.
“Dudes,” PhD announced with a sigh, “we look like the worn-out whores of ’84.”
She is as brutally honest as she was thirty years ago, and I love her even more for it than I did back then. And whether she is 18 or 48, she is still stunning.
Several of my classmates seemed to be under the impression that I played in the school band. One gentleman regaled me with tales of my moving into town in tenth grade and “partying” with him on several occasions. He was so glad to see me, and even dropped some vague hints that led me to believe he thinks we had some sort of relationship back then.
I have no idea who he has me confused with, but he obviously has great memories of her.
Whoever she is.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him we never actually spoke in school. (Sorry, Bill.)
I was so worried about this reunion because, let’s be honest, life hasn’t turned out like I thought it would. I remember feeling judged in high school, and I was afraid of feeling judged once again. Of not measuring up. And yes, there were a couple of utter asshats there this weekend who did their best to be complete jerks. I was really hoping one woman in particular would end up with her head in dirty toilet water before the night was over, but overall, my classmates were magnificent.
The girls who once intimidated me were quick to hug me this weekend; the cute boys who made me trip over my own feet and walk into walls back then seemed happy to see me now. Lots of genuine smiles, friendly hugs, warm handshakes. Perhaps someone more cynical than I would make snarky remarks here about phonies, but I chose to see sincerity.
We made promises to stay in touch. Exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and “liked” each other’s statuses on Facebook. Posted lots of pictures and talked about seeing each other again at the fortieth in ten years.
Most of those promises probably won’t be kept. No matter how much we want all of those good feelings to stay strong, we’ve all moved on with little in common other than shared memories of a time we can never go back to. We can only share laughs about Mr. Kitchen’s Algebra class or Mrs. Frank’s scary blue hair and hawk nose so many times before we run out of things to say to each other.
This weekend was all about saying hello again after thirty years, about sharing our memories, about re-living a few days gone by. But it also felt a little bit like a good bye. Good-bye to the insecure kids we used to be, good bye to old dreams that were replaced by different realities, good bye to old grudges and resentments that we should have let go of a long, long time ago. It was a chance to say farewell to any lingering hopes or fears of ever going back to who we used to be.
For me, this class reunion was the chance to embrace life just exactly as it is, and to appreciate each other in ways we didn’t back then. I never knew Mona was so sweet, Karen was so smart, or Inger was so caring. I never noticed Maggy’s gorgeous green eyes, or realized that Tim was so funny; I didn’t know that Denise was the person to go to when I needed honesty, or that Cheryl had such an infectious laugh. I had forgotten that Anita’s smile has always been the brightest and warmest thing in any room, or that Holly’s stability and dependability mask an inner capacity for mischief that only a few of us have ever seen.
Guys, let’s not wait for the fortieth. Let’s have a thirty-fifth. Perhaps my hangover will be gone by then.