Harold Pinter would have us think of homecomings as dramatic and traumatic affairs, in my own vast and varied experience, i.e., my experience this past weekend at my high school reunion, I can honestly say that homecomings aren't disturbing or destructive as much as they are awkward. Deeply, deeply awkward. Though of course, 90% of that might have been me.
However, to be fair, 10% of it at least was the fact that this was my five year high school reunion. Now here is the thing about a five year period, I really don't know how much you are able to get done in one, especially considering that four out of those five years you were probably spending your time at another academic institution and, if movies teach us anything, trying to forget high school as much as possible. (Maybe that fifth year too? Maybe even right now? Those of you reading who have made it past the five year mark, please don't tell me you still think about your time in high school, it will only depress me.) But five years is really the most pathetic of reunions, and the reason's why are threefold:
1. You probably still see and are in contact with at least half your graduating class. With the advent of facebook and the interweb and new carrier pigeon technology moving forward with leaps and bounds, keeping in touch with people is as easy as pressing a button or releasing a bird. In fact, I feel like I have seen more of my classmates since I left high school, and by this I mean, they have some slutty facebook photos. Put that away, people, my MOM is on there!
2. Unless you are an evil genius (i.e., myself) or have already found the time to inherit in a major way, you probably are doing one of three things, working at an entry level position which you grit your teeth through and tell everyone it's "a great networking experience", interning at an entry level position which you grit your teeth through and tell everyone it's "a great learning experience", or attending graduate school, which you can talk about all you want, but no one really wants to listen. If you've reunited with at least one person from each of these camps, you can leave your five year reunion happy, because you've pretty much fully caught up.
3. All of your residual high school drama and issues are still close enough to the surface that once you get a few drinks in you at the reunion bar these aren't going to be fun little antidotes of a bygone era but real, unfortunate, socially awkward (in my case) struggles that are either going to find you sobbing in a bathroom somewhere or waking up in an all too familiar person's bed. Of course the third option (and my personal favorite) is that you go home alone and fend off the attentions of your middle-aged Russian cab driver. Anyway you slice it, it's a flashback to a dark place.
With the acknowledgment of all these things, however, I actually had a pretty good time at my reunion, and I can now offer some fun and simple tips, to ensure that others do the same:
1. Anyone can be interesting for ten minutes, even the people you had declared your arch-nemesis and spent countless lunch hours and Friday nights plotting against. For ten minutes you can find yourself satisfying whatever mild curiosity you had about even the most vague acquaintance and pretending to care about their life. After ten minutes, well, if that's a risk you are willing to take, be my guest.
2. You can all legally drink together. Finally. And take it from me on this one, you're going to want to do so.
3. Remember that thing you always wanted to say to that person? Well, trust me on this one, you still don't have the chutzpah to say it, so don't even try. Besides, it's not like you can just say it, blame it on the henny, and get the hell out of there, after all, they can always post their response on your facebook wall. Wait at least until you ten year reunion, I know I am.
Thinking back over the weekend's events, I was thrilled to realize that the struggle was at least 50% the five year reunion and 50% myself. It's always nice to know it's not entirely my fault when everything get's awkward. Though of course, given that it's high school we are discussing, I really shouldn't have been so surprised.