The days of senior year were soon ending and as I was walking towards the stop light, I was stopped by a tall boy with long brown hair. He was in my class. His name is not important. Or it is important but I just don’t want to give it. He stopped me and told me that he forgave me. I raised an eyebrow and asked him what for. He explained it didn’t matter anymore because he had forgiven me for what I had done. I asked again what I had done and was told it didn’t matter. He had forgiven me and gave me a hug. I stood there, confused as I tried not to breath in smells of weed and unwashed flannel. Twenty years later, I still haven’t a clue what I had done but the boy with the long hair forgave me. For what? It clearly did not matter. It might be worth mentioning that I did not know this boy was even mad at me in the first place which made the entire exchange even more strange although in a way, it described my high school experience perfectly. Things were happening, I was just not aware they were.
A week on a campsite on some campground where during the summer, it became a sleep away camp. Graffiti such as “don’t sprinkle when you tinkle” was scrawled in black on the bathroom walls. Students got to pick their friends to be in a cabin with and when we arrived, I watched as groups gathered together, choosing each other, grabbing hold and hugging each other. I found a cabin alone. There were bunk beds, single beds and a bathroom. All of which were mine. No one grabbed my hand, told me I had to room with them, no one decided I needed to be part of their “squad” as the kids call it today and my request to see if I could share a room with someone was met with, “oh, sorry we have no room.” My room would be my own. I would see my classmates by the pool, in the dining hall and I returned to my cabin surrounded by other cabins that were full of people doing things that did not concern me as there was no room for me.
During that trip, yearbooks were signed. I had some amazing messages but what I noticed more than anything were the pictures. The senior pages, where seniors had put photos of their friends. I was in no one’s senior page. Senior pages filled with memories and pictures of my classmates hanging out during moments that I was not a part of, sharing inside jokes I would never know about and exchanging moments that did not include me. Much like the tall boy with the stringy brown hair who told me he forgave me for an unknown infraction, I felt very much on the outside wondering where my place was amongst the fifty of us. I had been forgiven but whatever the issue was never really mattered.
I had a secret fantasy of that night. My high school crush would ask, the boy I had obsessed over would come to his senses. In retrospect, why no one took me aside and told me I was venturing into weird, rabbit boiling territory I will never know but at the time, I was sure he’d ask. He barely spoke to me, yet for some reason I was convinced it would be like the movies, like those romantic comedies where the nerdy girl gets a make-over and suddenly her dream boy just can’t wait to be with her. I thought we would go together and it would be a night so spectacular it would rival anything from the movies or television. The reality of my prom was far different. My mother had called a family friend and asked if her son could take me. If there was a pre-prom party, I didn’t know. There was an after prom party but I didn’t really stay because there was pot there and my date did not want to be at a party where there were drugs so he demanded we leave. I figured they’d have awesome snacks, but sadly I would never know.
Twenty years later.
The reunion. I had wanted to go. I had thought about going. I had written posts and thought it would be fun. I could sit with people who had been nice to me in high school and listen to them wax nostalgic about stories I wish I had been a part of. Parties I hadn’t been invited to. Sweet Sixteen parties had not been included in while I secretly waxed nostalgic about about my own fantasy Sweet Sixteen. I had always wanted a Sweet Sixteen party. I wanted pink and flowers and all the other Sweet Sixteen things you do. Having a summer birthday meant you never got your locker decorated on your birthday, so maybe a Sweet Sixteen. I didn’t have one and wasn’t invited to anyone else’s. I didn’t go on dates, my first date wasn’t until college with the guy who professed his love for me and proposed marriage on the first date. The first time I ever threw myself a birthday party to include friends was in college. College was where everything changed but in high school, I was simply just in the class. I would have very few memories to share but I thought maybe I’d go. I would listen to other people talk as I smiled and nodded along.
Then came the Facebook invite that began floating around for a Friends Trivia Night at Busby’s. It was the same night as the reunion. It was an odd thing and I wondered if that was a sign although I always question the validity of signs. This seemed strange though. Friends premiered while I was in high school. I wrote reviews for Friends for The Gorilla, our school newspaper. I was that weird girl who had entire conversations with people revolving around six fictional people. I got the Rachel ‘Do although it only lasted twenty four hours. That hairstyle was tough to do on your own. Writing, watching television, that was my identity in high school because I was never sure what else to discuss or how else to relate.
I had gone to a different junior high and those middle school years were spent being thrown in trash cans or having trash thrown at me. I transferred to a new school and on the first day, the two bullies from middle school drove by and screamed that they were going to kill me in front of another classmate who immediately told everyone what had happened. This was my intro to a new school and maybe I wasn’t sure how to let it go. On one of my first days, a very sweet girl invited me to lunch with her friends at the Taco Bell down the street but given what I had just gone through, I was convinced I would probably be left there.. I know I was not the easiest person to be friends with, too much had happened in middle school, too much trust had been destroyed so maybe that’s why I stuck with those fictional six. Those fictional six would not throw me in trash cans or decide to not include me. Like clockwork, every Thursday night, they would be on my television screen doing something funny and slightly unrealistic. That was high school. I was not at parties, I was in my room watching a sitcom and I was watching that sitcom. I was going on America On-Line and looking up the actors and developing a fear of those chat rooms. I read all the interviews and magazine articles. This was what I did in high school.
So that Facebook invite began to pull me away from the idea of attending the twenty year reunion. I began to create teams, there were two groups of six and got excited. If this had been offered back then, I probably would have gone. I was surrounded by people obsessing over the very thing I obsessed over. Somehow my obsession paid off as I brought my team to a fourth place win. It was kinda where I was supposed to be that night. Perhaps I will go to the next one, there’s a discussion of a twenty five year reunion and I’ll do that one but this one, maybe this was what I was supposed to do as I did spend all of high school obsessing over a sitcom and twenty years later, that obsession paid off with a ten dollar gift card to Busby’s.