We Are Different
A few months ago, I wrote about my upcoming 50th high school reunion (Using And Losing Time).
I was anticipating the event with both pleasure and anxiety. I was looking forward to seeing old friends again. But I worried that I had not been as ‘successful’ as I would have wished. That I wasted too much of my life. I had frittered away my future.
And of course, I worried that I wouldn’t be pretty enough, thin enough, popular enough. OMG, (which no one said way back then, btw (which also no one said)) – my worries have not changed in HALF A CENTURY!
WTF (which also no one said)...is wrong with ME????
So anyway, I watched my diet sort of successfully, dropping about 8 of the 15 pounds I figured would make my figure perfect. So I was half perfect. I bought a gorgeous dress that was too dressy for the occasion, but how was I to know the party wouldn’t be like a senior prom for actual seniors? I rescheduled my hair appointment so my gray roots would not be poking through. I did a practice run of my makeup. I even intended to add some falsies of the eyelash variety, but in the end was more worried about having them detach and fall into my salad, so went with my own skimpy lashes.
I had daydreams of creating an Entrance. Of being the center of attention. Of being the fascinating extrovert I had failed to be in high school.
But of course, I am not an extrovert. I am a people watcher, not a people magnet. I think perhaps I could command an entourage if I had a basketful of Reese’s peanut butter cups. But it was two weeks before Halloween, so that was not an appropriate entrance.
Still, I did enjoy myself. Oh yes, I was overdressed, but I knew I looked nice, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I saw many old friends. And they were as sweet and loving as I remembered. Some classmates who were acquaintances but not friends back then were warm and sincerely (or pretended to be sincere) interested in me. If they were just pretending, then I thank them for their good manners anyway.
More than 130 of our 450 classmates attended. A good showing, I think, after the passage of fifty years. An indication that being teenagers together was a sweet experience that we could still share.
But sharing that experience has left me surprised too.
Surprised at our differences.
We were a homogeneous group. After all, we were all exactly the same age, attended the same school, raised in the same town, affected by the same world events. And our town itself was homogeneous. Smack-dab middle class – not many of us either rich or poor. Our homes, our streets, our families were all but interchangeable.
And yet, looking around that room that should have been filled with such similarity – I saw not uniformity, but amazing variety.
Some of us looked old. Some looked young. Some were fat and some were thin. Some were healthy and some disabled. There were bald heads and extravagant hair. Sequins and tee shirts. Successful entrepreneurs and folks who struggled. Long happy marriages, newlyweds, singles, long-divorced. Parents, grandparents, childlessness. Religious. Atheist. Liberal. Conservative. Living abroad. Still living in the same house. Haughty. Modest. Loud. Shy.
I was astonished by the diversity of people who should have been all alike.
Which makes me consider the bedlam of this world.
My classmates who shared such common experiences are not common. They aren’t clones. They are all unique.
So what of people who do not share such similarity of background?
If folks raised the same grow up to be so different, what chaos comes from a world where folks have such a disparity of experiences?
And optimist that I am, I see that it is not so much chaos after all.
Oh,I recognize that there is war and hatred and unrest and bitter disagreement. But I am profoundly impressed that we have even a teaspoon of stability in this world. Why – with such dissimilarity in this world – we have not descended into complete anarchy is a testament to the intelligence and goodness of human beings.
I am amazed that we can communicate with any level of understanding. That we can buy and sell in global transactions. That we can accomplish objectives in the workplace. That we can build a school and send our children to be educated. That we can bring food into big cities and the internet to the rainforest. That we can take care of strangers in hospitals. Hell, I am impressed that we can drive cars without smashing into each other.
It seems to me that Humanity is an insane collection of differences that we all overlook in order to survive.
And most of us even smile through the insanity.
- Posted in: Aging ♦ Friendship ♦ Humor ♦ Memories
- Tagged: High school, reunion
Nancy, I love the insight in your writings. I look forward to reading your blogs, I find them extremely interesting.
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How lovely. I don’t know anyone from my education days and have never attended a reunion from school times. I do live 12000 miles away I may add, but that’s life isn’t it. Good for you and your diverse school buddies.
What a lovely piece filled with wonderful revelations
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I have heard an M.D. from our local geriatric center speak on this topic. She said that she is frequently asked why she would choose to care for old people. She explained that if she treated children or adolescents of a certain age, they would be approximately in the same stage of development. In other word pretty predictable. On the other hand, with older adults at the same age you never know what to expect. She thought the variety was much more interesting!
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My big reunion was this year too but I chose not to go. My besties weren’t there but I had a lot of curiosity about the people who would show. They posted pictures on the website and I could see the same diversity you talk about from a physical aspect. I’m always surprised at how people age both physically and mentally. Maybe next time!
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My high school class gathered 40 years later and I was keen to learn about their lives and how they remembered our school years. I was satisfied in that way: these milestones are valuable. Love your gentle self mockery and your insights.
Wow! You had 130 of your class attend? My latest two reunions had less than 50 of 471 people attending, which deeply influenced my not going to either one. Seems the gang almost en masse decamped to California, probably to become acid-heads. The ones still around here I can contact quite easily. And most of them have not changed, other than having families. Kinda envy you.
We grow and age and change such is life
Good insights; glad it went well!
Glad you enjoyed it! My 20 year reunion is next year and I’m just not sure! I have no idea what to expect. Enjoyed reading about your preparation for the big day especially the eyelashes!
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Good-looking bunch! I have enjoyed all the reunions I have attended, and I was the awkward, geeky overweight girl in high school. At one of the reunions (maybe 40-year?) a guy who had been one of my tormentors told someone else, who passed it along to me, that I was the best-looking woman at the reunion! That was worth the trip across country!
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My reunion was last month, but I couldn’t go. Not that I really wanted to fly halfway across the country for a one evening event. There are only a few classmates that I remember, but I am still in contact with them, so it’s okay. Your point about the variety of humanity is a good one and makes one wonder how we all get through the day together, but we do. At least we are still alive as not all of them made it this far. Thanks for your insight.
I really enjoyed reading about your reunion particularly since I will be doing the same thing in May and I have that same voice in my head saying, lose a bit of weight, find something bright to wear (I often wear “slimming” black), start thinking about your hair, let it grow longer, etc. In reading your text, I know I will feel comfortable with these friends and ought not to worry so much… after all, we are just all simple folks. Thanks for reminding me!
Enjoyed reading about your reunion.
What lovely observations, Nancy. I’ve enjoyed the reunions I attended. 20th, 40th and the 50th anniversary of my high school acting group (one of the best reunions ever!). I love seeing how people have changed, finding out that folks who I didn’t think knew I existed actually did know I existed. Great fun and it always makes me more content with my life as it’s played out.
Nancy—are you ok? We haven’t heard from you and miss you. Are you still blogging?