Some high school moments are from The Breakfast Club, but most of them are better described by this opening line from Anna Karenina “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Lev Tolstoy) Unless, you were like me, in-between, because you were too frightened to be.
I felt in-between, but it did not mean that I did not have a label, like the characters here. I suppose I was a “good girl.” But in high school that mostly means almost unhappy all the time. It also translates into teachers’ pet and no one’s friend. In time, it brings no reason to attend high school reunions.
My own reunions.
However, when 10 years ago I attended one of my husband’s, I felt joy flooding my spirit and muting my natural judgmental self. I did not have time to reflect at my own solitude vis-a-vis high school because the middle age people I encountered that evening ten years ago in a Long Island restaurant were deeply human and unpretentious, direct and funny, and really happy to catch up with each other. No one was pulling any strings and no one was sharing pictures. They had so much ground to cover that they used words: simple words which conveyed the clear meaning their user had in mind for them to convey.
During the entire evening I felt elated and looked forward to the next reunion, which was scheduled for this summer.
Now ten years is a long time, and in the past two years I have come to think that a day is worth a lifetime. So when I arrived at another Long Island restaurant one evening this August, I certainly knew that ten years can be an eternity to chip away at human perspective. This time around there was no life, normal, simple, rocky, unsteady, unflattering life. This time around everything was pretty flat and vacuous and as artificial as a Barbie doll, because it had one dimension: canned desperation, at times presentable, at times painful to watch but always present whether people were sitting down at round tables or dancing or drinking or chatting or staring at the food appraising it quietly. I was longing for my expectations of unflattering slices of American life; maybe boring, maybe nothing to brag about, but certainly fresh and inviting and irresistible because of their spunk of “why not?”
We all live on borrowed time, isn’t that so, John?
But I see no need to be humorless about it.
Of course, it could be just my nearsighted attitude, but, think about a movie, any movie, if you can see the actor behind the character the illusion is gone and the movie is deflated to a popcorn eating event. It becomes lifeless and if you choose to stay until the end you may as well fall asleep or write a review, like this one or better.