Leaving the past behind

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

They have finally done it; they found me. I've been on the hideout from the hyperactive high school reunion pep squad literally since the day I escaped from that miserable penitentiary, ducking them by any means necessary. And it's not only because I'm not sure all the statues of limitations have yet run out on my teenage activities, either.

Sure, I feel bad for spreading the rumor that I couldn't attend the five year reunion because I was touring as a roadie with the Go-Gos. Or that I couldn't attend the ten year reunion because I was seeking enlightenment doing yoga atop a mountain in Tibet. Or that I couldn't attend the fifteenth reunion because I was in the witness protection program due to Mafia ties, or that I couldn't attend the twentieth reunion because I had passed away from complications related to athlete's foot. I'm not proud of my dishonesty, mostly because it hasn't worked.

They have chased me into the ground. I've had a good run under the radar though. Most of this time, I've been only an hour away from the hallowed halls of my days of academia, without once ever stepping back inside that building. And I was happy that way.

But someone named Muffy, or Buffy, or Binki or Misty, or something like that has found me out, perhaps by tracing dental records or excavating the graves of my ancestors, painstakingly uncovering my carefully-covered tracks to insist that I attend some major reunion this year - what is it now, 50th? Hundredth? Who knows - time flies when you're having fun.

I'm guessing she was a cheerleader or pom girl or dance squad captain, based on the uber-happy overwrought chipmunk nature of her e-mails.

"OMG isn't it EXCITING!! I can't wait!! Can U!! LOL!! It's going to be AMAZING!!"

So help me gosh, I don't remember her. I'm not gonna lie, the whole decade is a tad fuzzy.

After succumbing to the pressure, I did log onto the high school alumni site for the first time.

It has it's own store. Of course it does. How very cool would it be to walk around proclaiming yourself as podunk high school's most enthusiastic alumni ever ever ever with a bold $59 fleece shirt? Yay!

I looked at the photos of the people from my era of school. A few of the names looked vaguely familiar, but I didn't recognize any of the faces, except for a couple of classmates who happen to live around here.

The females in the photos they had sent in seem to be inclined to unveil vast acreage of cleavage, especially for people who might be grandmothers now. It's probably a fashion thing I don't know about. Some have a long string of last name changes behind them, a couple of nips and tucks here and there, a new hair color and a fake tan, but at least they still have the high school cleavage that they unfortunately would not provide a glimpse of if you were actually dating them during high school.

The guys, once sculpted steel gods of football and basketball, seemed shorter and wider, with much less hair and inclined to big-box store suits with the western stitching that were popular - when? They look tired, a little beaten down. AARP enrollees.

What happened to these people? Luckily, I haven't changed at ALL. And I am not posting a photo on that website, because I don't need for people to be thinking the same thoughts about me that I am about them.

Someone put a lot of work into making that class site. They even take a survey asking if you remember where your senior year locker was. I don't even remember senior year.

I imagine that a reunion would involve wandering around a poorly-themed sports bar somewhere, plastered on a fake smile, pretending to remember people as they pretend to remember you, everyone trying desperately to fein interest in each other's cookie-cutter suburban homes, SUV's, grandchildren and and long-awaited promotions to district manager of various corporate fast food restaurants.

It's not that I want to forget the past, so much, it's just that life goes on, tomorrow fascinates me more than yesterday does - and most of the people I knew at 17 I don't know any more.

It's fun to bump into someone you played tennis against, lifeguarded with or took to a dance once upon a time, but the beauty of those moments is the unexpected nature of them. "Hey, aren't you...! It's been forever. Imagine meeting you here. How's life been?"

Even so, such conversations seem to run out of juice fast. The days when you had things in common are long gone. You can only talk about old teachers and forgotten sports events for so long before awkward silence ensues and it's time to move on.

Going to my high school reunion would perhaps involve renting a much better automobile than the beater I actually own, fretting about covering a few well-deserved gray hairs, dieting -eek! and wearing some kind of formal wear that I would not normally be caught dead in or most likely will not be seen in until my actual funeral.

There are a few people I would love to see once more - not Muffy/Buffys - but chances are, they wouldn't be any more inclined toward such an event than I would. And worse, what if they didn't remember?

And then there is that button on my class page: "In memory."

I poised my finger over it, but I couldn't bring myself to click. I don't want to know.

Someone even made a video on our era. Headbands. The Fonz. Star Wars. Pac Man. Reagan. Springsteen. Pet Rocks. Tube socks. Apple computers. Really, is that us? Is that all? They set it to an old Boston song:

"So many people have come and gone

Their faces fade as the years go by

Yet I still recall as I wander on

Clear as the sun in the summer skyyyy..."

Problem is, I don't really recall, and you really can't go back again.

Sorry Muffy Buffy, I hope you have a ball, but I think I'll sit this one out, again.