Because the best day of high school was the last day.
I don’t want to attend my 50th high school reunion. No excuses, I just don’t want to. I can afford it, I don’t have family obligations keeping me home, I look fine, and I’m proud of my accomplishments. I just don’t want to go.
When I graduated high school in 1965, combat troops had arrived in Vietnam, 350,000 people marched on Washington as a protest against the war, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and 2,600 others were arrested in Selma, Alabama, blacks were rioting in Watts, and the Beatles played at Shea Stadium. It was a heady year, to be sure. I was looking to my future, so glad to be done with six years in an all-girls high school.
I didn’t attend Catholic school. I attended a competitive New York City all girls public school (it went coed in 1974 as the result of a lawsuit) that required an examination for entrance.
I realized early on that I had little in common with the other girls except that we were all teenagers and very smart. The psychoanalyst Erik Erikson described adolescence as a time when people are “curiously preoccupied with what they appear to be in the eyes of others as compared to what they feel they are.” I never really felt that way. I was secure in who I was, happy with the three good friends I made. I was impatient with high school rituals. I didn’t fit in but I didn’t want to. Clothes, music, and other symbols of adolescent status weren’t important to me. Unlike most of my peers, I wasn’t even a Beatles fan.
I had one goal: I wanted to go to college in California. I’d never been there, but the pull of hippies, Haight Ashbury, and the scene of freedom that played in my head was calling me.
As it happened, my life didn’t play out exactly as I had planned and it took me four more decades before I actually moved to California.
I attended my 25th high school reunion in 1990. I immediately regretted making the effort. Everything had changed and nothing had changed. I vowed then not to attend another one. I don’t seek affirmation from people I never see and I have no desire to participate in gossip circles or take the inevitable trip down memory lane or reintroduce myself to people I don’t even remember.
The subject would be moot were it not for the invention of technology that began 25 years ago. I am being bombarded with emails and Facebook invites to be friends with people whose names I hardly remember. I look at the unsolicited reunion page and see long discussions over reunion plans and even more pages of reminiscences. Most of the participants are still living in New York.
It makes me sad to think of the closed-minded women who are still wrapped up in who they used to be and are living in the past. Their posts often read like a group of people who live in a small town whose virtues can never be bested. New Yorkers can be very provincial.
The more I read on Facebook, the more I realize that many of my classmates are seeking to revive their glory days. I’m not sorry that someone added me to the group because scrolling through the threads reminds me that the best part of high school was that after six endless years, it was over. To be fair, there likely are a few people who plan to attend the reunion to see some close friends, but my money says those are in the minority.
Fiftieth reunions have been around for a long time, with more and more people able to attend as life spans grow longer. We graduated in an exciting time and retreating into retirement is understandably hard. My peers give me no reason to think that what they will say at a live reunion is any different from the postings I see on Facebook where they look back with fondness while pontificating about the pending doom of society.
The 1960s were famous for lots of protests by young people and the end of deference toward the old, so I don’t understand why these women are suddenly afraid of youth. I enjoy the company of young people and find I have lots to learn from them.
I have always looked to the future and thus, will send my regrets from sunny California and spend the day, as I do most Saturdays, roller skating and refereeing at roller derby.
Evelyn Block is a Los Angeles based writer whose stories have appeared in literary magazines and popular websites. She is the author of a children’s book, September 11, 2001: A Day in History. A huge Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac fan, in her spare time Evelyn is a roller derby referee known as “Stevie Fleetwheels.” She can be reached at Sendblock@aol.com.
Photo of the author now and in high school