November 6: I texted Lylly before the crack of dawn. Overnight, the Facebook invitation finally arrived. Our five year reunion was scheduled for the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Lylly (pronounced Lily) is the only person from my graduating class of twenty-two people that I still talk to on a regular basis. Unfortunately, she says she will be in Maine, so I decide I won’t attend.
November 7: I tell my mom that I have been invited to my five year reunion. She says it will be fun and that I should at least make an appearance. Who knew my mom would ever be the one talking me into going to a trashy bar?
November 24: The invitation says 9:00, but I show up around 9:45. I decide to be fashionably late because I am attending a concert with my parents down the street. I am able to sneak out at intermission and they will give me an out when they have to pick me up. My dad walks me down the street to the bar because he doesn’t trust the area, which I don’t complain about because frankly, neither do when I’m walking alone at night.
When I arrive, people are surprised to see me, probably because I checked off “Maybe” on the Facebook invite. I recognize that being a flake is my tragic flaw, so I never say “Yes” unless I am enthusiastic about attending. I see my old teammates from cheerleading, a friend I have known since kindergarten, the girl who I went to the same college as, and my ex-boyfriend. I speak to them in that order.
I order a hard cider and put my coat down. I chat with a few people and we go over the details of our lives. Only seven other people are there, making for a small gathering, but it is intimate and I don’t mind that at all. It is quiet and fun to catch up, but within a few minutes I’m uncomfortable.
The gossip is beginning, and while I normally love to indulge, I simply cannot keep up. Everyone at the reunion except for myself and one other person (who mentioned her plans to move back) still live in the area. I am hearing names I haven’t heard in years and cannot put faces to them. I am updated on the lives of strangers. Who are these mystery people? Occasionally, old classmates are brought up–some in a negative light and others positively, but I hear so much about people I don’t know. I stand awkwardly in the circle, realizing I have sipped my drink nearly every time I have felt out of place.
It has only been about half an hour and I can’t leave yet. I decide to go over to the bar. My ex is sitting separate from this circle. I order a water and grab his attention.
Our relationship was one of the highlights of my high school experience. I say this because he was one of my best friends. We were friends before we dated and when we started going out, nothing changed. Our relationship, although labeled as romantic, was platonic. There was almost nothing physical and that is including the innocent kiss or holding hands. I never really figured out why it was like this, but I have no complaints. We drifted apart when we went to college and broke up a few weeks in. I don’t regret anything but the fact that we hadn’t spoken in five years.
When we talked, it was as if no time had passed. We picked up right where we left off. I felt comfortable with him. I laughed with him and we talked about our lives. He was the only one I was truthful with about my current employment situation–he was the only one I would want to know. I told him about my quarter-life crisis and I told him about this blog. I spent the rest of the night talking to him and it was so natural. I missed those years of friendship and we made up for it.
The song “Africa” came on and he said he was surprised because that was what he would usually play on the jukebox. I told him how my boyfriend and his brothers always do a shot of tequila when they hear the song. He said we should do tequila shots, but we settled for Dr. McGillicuddy’s. I was being picked up by my parents after all– I didn’t need to smell like a 21st birthday party.
At the end of the night (which for me was somewhere around 10:30) my dad came into the bar to pick me up. For anyone else this would be mortifying, but my dad was the basketball coach so my classmates were happy to see him. I said goodbye, hugged all the girls and my ex, and walked to the car with my dad.
There’s a certain pressure to look like our best selves seeing people from our past. I did not tell anyone that I had quit my terrible job or that I was going through a rough time. I wore a cute outfit that made me look skinny, despite gaining about ten pounds since high school. I wanted to be my best–be the one that moved away and came back more confident and successful than ever. This was not my case but I was able to have one moment of honesty. Part of being honest with ourselves and with others is getting past the awkward and embracing our failures… even if we only admit them to one person.