Last weekend I attended my high school graduating class’s 20-year reunion. I was expecting to walk into a John Hughes movie when I walked into the country club. The prom scene from “Pretty in Pink” is what I pictured.
While the ‘80s music played in the posh venue and we dined on a surprisingly impressive meal, I was much more playing the part of observant attendee rather than the interacting social butterfly. If you want me, you can find me left of center, off of the strip. In the outskirts, in the fringes, in the corner out of the grip.
I found my curiosity in the popular crowd to be almost nonexistent. I wanted to see what the stay-at-home moms with the rich husbands and unlimited spending power were wearing, but after that detail, the formerly fascinating popular crowd bored me. I don’t care anymore what they do or where they live. I don’t care what their kids’ trendy names are. I can pretty much guess what their lives are like. Out of habit I was still snarking on a couple of the old mean girls, but it wouldn’t be fun without a little snark. When they ask me, ‘what are you looking at?’ I always answer ‘nothing much, not much.’
I was much more focused on realizing who I am now drawn to in friendships. The maturity of the women made me happy. That the wives and girlfriends of my former boyfriends/dates can make friends with me now is how it should be. Decades have passed, and I am not pursuing your husband. Thank you for realizing that we actually can all be friends and appreciate each other. I think that somehow, somewhere inside of us, we must be similar, if not the same.
I was also more apt to let go of attempts at friendships that I just don’t care about or know aren’t healthy. I didn’t feel the need to be nice for more than a minute to those whose friendly appearances shaded unfriendly pasts. Maybe these attempts were sincere, maybe they didn’t remember how they treated me back then, or maybe they do remember but were hoping that I’d forgotten.
Maybe they don’t remember anything at all and were just acting their way through the crowd, hoping no one would notice their oblivion.
Whatever the case, I DO remember and I’m done with them. It’s not out of spite or revenge, but rather a lack of desire to reconcile those emotions within myself. My hurt feelings have been neatly tucked away for 10-20 years without incident and I’m perfectly content to leave them that way. Amends do not have to be made with everyone. I’m okay with that. Go hang with your crowd and leave me with mine. Unless you have a sincere apology for me, we don’t need to act like we’re friends.
Sometimes the expectation of seeing someone for the first time in years brings so much anticipation that it’s anticlimactic when you realize you don’t have much to say. A hug and “you look good!” is all that comes forward. You never know when dead air will hit. So I continue to be wanting you, left of center, against the grain.
I saw emotions in classmates’ eyes that I recognized because I’ve had them in my own eyes. I know the look of missed opportunity, the look of a broken friendship walking by, the look of regret, the look of repressed hurt, the look of relief and glad-I-got-out-of-that-situation. I saw the disbelief and shock at the realization of change.
I saw joy that negated the expanse of years of noncommunication, and I saw sincerity that made all the traveling worth it if just for those few minutes of rekindled mutual admiration.
I saw spouses secretly wondering if they know the real story behind the person they just met as I watched hugs that lingered longer. I could discern between smiles of joy and smiles of politeness. I think they know that, I’m looking at them, I think they must think I’m out of touch. But I’m only in the outskirts, and in the fringes, on the edge, and off the avenue…
Still, I wouldn’t trade my time this weekend with my old friends for anything. I would bargain away most things in life for more time with them. They get me, they laugh at me, and they let me laugh at them. They make themselves available as friends in so many ways.
And if you want me, you can find me left of center, wondering about you.
Wondering about you.