. . . and It Feels So Good

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.

See?  I'm not the only one in a push-up bra!
See? I’m not the only one in a push-up bra!

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.

 

Hey, Doc!
Hey, Doc!

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.

See you in another ten?
See you in another ten?

 

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Reunited

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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.

Well, shit.

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.