Wednesday, July 14, 2010

High School Reunion: A Month From Today

On Aug. 14, I will return to my hometown of Lynchburg, Va., for my 30-year high school reunion. The notion is absurd. Thirty years? Why, that would mean that I have reached the age of... thankfully, math was hardly my strong suit, so I'll stop right there.

I also went to my 10-year and 20-year reunions, and both—like this one—for different reasons. The first, admittedly, was partial vengeance: to show those few mean, teasing classmates that I may have blossomed late, but I did indeed come out of my shell. I'd also come out of the closet after moving to D.C. in 1984, loud and proud. So all those cruel taunts of "sissy" and "faggot" that I endured may have proved technically correct, but 10 years later, go ahead... I can take it now. Look at me, look at you, who peaked in high school? So I had a bone to pick.

(Mind you, I wasn't a total dud: president of the ECG Drama Club and of my church Youth Group, Forensics team, first trombone in symphonic and jazz band... just sayin'...)

Sadly, the two cruelest classmates that I most wanted to confront in 1990—Steve and John—were no shows. I suppose that in itself proved a point.

The 20-year reunion was a much more mellow affair. Nothing to prove, no one to wave my banner in front of. Simply, curiosity to see how we'd evolved. By 2000, I was living the high life in New York with my dream job at Billboard, happy, content—and thin! Carlton and I came together, both of us demonstrating the (short-term) success of Atkins Diet. We felt good. And we had a goddamn blast. The clique boundaries had dissipated; there was camaraderie in our collective starting point.

And still I blushed when I had a conversation with Rob, the "Cutest Boy in Class," whom I had never spoken to. In high school, he was one of the unapproachable cool kids. A smoker, even! I felt 16 again. God bless him, he hadn't changed a lick. Still lean. Dreamy. And he kept his hair.

Others weren't so lucky. Many of the jocks that ruled the roost in 1980 had obviously begun their slow decline. Okay, so I took a little satisfaction from that. I'm only human.

For the upcoming 30th, things are again wildly different. Facebook has opened up a wondrous doorway to the past. Frivolity flows between classmates who were pals in primary school before we went our separate ways in high school. We reminisce as a united group about stuff in the 1970s that's uniquely ours... It's a joyous reconnect that makes the promise of our face-to-face reunion in one month all the more a journey well worth taking.

And I still have my hair. That doesn't hurt a bit.