I've been thinking a lot about high school lately, but not in a nostalgic way. My thought process has been more overanalytic and avoidant; my 10-year reunion is coming up later this year and I'm trying to think of really valid excuses not to go. Like being out of the country or on assignment or shooting something or closing escrow. For practical reasons, 'I hated 99% of it and have no fondness for anyone I met there, save for exactly 2 people,' doesn't seem like a good enough excuse. It's not an excuse at all. It's a reason, and a mostly bitter one at that. I've been in touch with a handful of people since graduation, and some of our reconnections have been so emotionally stressful that the thought of being forced to endure a high concentration of Torrey Pines alums for several hours on end sounds slightly less enjoyable than a massive heart attack.
My school was one of those huge, fancy SoCal public schools full of people with money, brains, looks and fancy cars. You know how in small towns, it might make the local paper if one kid gets a 1600* on the SAT, because they were the first kid in that town to EVER get a perfect score? At my school, there was no such distinction because in my class alone, we had 8 1600s. We sent something like 50 people to Ivy-league schools. I was not one of those people. At any other public school, even in San Diego, I would have been considered 'well above average,' possibly even 'bright,' with a decent GPA and a broad enough range of outside activities to get me into the colleges I wanted. At Torrey Pines, I was 'fantastically unspecial,' and reminded of this every day. Aside from being a 96-pound boobless, monobrowed, socially deplorable troll, I was at the bottom of most teachers' 'Neat Lists.' I did well enough in non-math classes, but for the most part had my head up my ass and consequently lacked any sort of worldly sophistication. The sycophantic atmosphere dictated that teachers pay attention to and promote only those who proved early on to be bound for absolute glory; we 'late bloomers' were relegated to toughing it out on our own. My AP English teacher cared so little about my academic future that in my recommendation letter, she not only misspelled my last name in the header, but referred to me once in the letter as "Jessica," another accomplished but unpolished student whose letter had been copy-and-pasted from the teacher's 'feh' file in MS Word.
I kept in touch with that teacher after graduation, mostly because one of my summer jobs was at Nordstrom, house-of-worship to this teacher, whose husband was a surgeon. She mostly asked me questions about the Ivy-leaguers (despite knowing damn well that none of them had allowed me to speak to them in high school, and my contact with them consisted of my parents bumping into theirs at country clubs and in Europe).
I more or less know who from high school has moved to New York after college and have made absolutely no effort to get in touch with any of them. I did see one guy out of the corner of my eye after a show at an NYU bar a couple of years ago. My immediate impulse was to run, full-speed, carrying the front end of a keyboard, through the labyrinthine basement tunnels and up the stairs**. This wasn't even someone who had tortured me by snapping my tiny bra or trying to draw on my huge forehead. I just so badly didn't want to have that 'so what are you up to/ who are you in touch with' conversation that I literally ran away from it. I plan on continuing this convenient escapist tendency until August 13, the day after the reunion. Maybe that's
my wonderful excuse: advanced metaphysical self-denial, practiced in accordance with the branch of philosophy I invented after finishing my master's degree?
I write this from my own office at the magazine where I am an editor, a job I landed after graduating with honors from one of the top journalism graduate programs in the country. I'm killing time before I dash off to indulge in my hobby: getting paid to improvise as part of an off-Broadway show.
And that's still not enough reason to go.
*in my day, the perfect score on the SAT. I have no idea what it is now.
**apologies to Glennis, who was carrying the back end of the keyboard.