Sat­ur­day was my 20-year reunion.

I think it was a success.

6‑months ago peo­ple start­ed ask­ing on our Face­book Class group if any­thing was being planned…and no one was real­ly step­ping for­ward stat­ing that any­thing was in the works. Many peo­ple had great ideas, but no one was tak­ing the lead. So a hand­ful of us came togeth­er and decid­ed to start plan­ning something.

I knew it was gonna be work. And some peo­ple thought I was crazy (espe­cial­ly with my school his­to­ry). But it’s work I enjoy. In anoth­er life I would prob­a­bly have been an event plan­ner. I’m a virgo…Gantt charts, col­or cod­ing and orga­niz­ing with thou­sands of lists, is my jam. And my abil­i­ty to fore­see upcom­ing needs. Piece of cake.

But there were many times I ques­tioned myself.

Why was I doing this? 

Why was I giv­ing so much of myself and my time for a large group of peo­ple who want­ed noth­ing to do with me when we were in school togeth­er? Who treat­ed me for pret­ty much all of my school life as a some­thing to hurl names at and bul­ly for no oth­er rea­son than they need­ed to feel superior.

It sur­pris­es them for some rea­son when I men­tion that. They don’t remem­ber or recall that I was the bot­tom rung on the social lad­der that they stepped on as they climbed up.

So, why bother? 

Why bust my ass to scan year­books, make dis­plays, orga­nize music, spend hours pour­ing over reg­is­tra­tions, reports, and bud­gets to make sure they were accu­rate so oth­ers could adjust their tasks or plans accordingly?

Why go through that headache?

Did I still crave some sort of accep­tance? …maybe?

For 6‑months–even though I had oth­er projects to work on–I ate and breathed this reunion. Almost every night at work on my breaks I worked on some aspect of the reunion. Bud­gets, Cross-ref­er­enc­ing lists, design­ing signs, clean­ing up pho­tos, mak­ing a slideshow…

I could pret­ty much quote who was reg­is­tered, who was hav­ing reg­is­tra­tion prob­lems, who was­n’t attend­ing. How many stu­dents we had in our class (318 once all my lists were cross-ref­er­enced), How much we had spent so far, all the con­tract details of the loca­tion, The release dates of songs in the playlist, and it will all prob­a­bly still be in my head for months to come.

But in the end, I think, it was worth it.

Sat­ur­day night I had peo­ple come up to me and thank me for the hard work I put into the reunion. I gra­cious­ly thanked them on behalf of the com­mit­tee. I always said “We” and “Us”. I want­ed them to know that it was­n’t all me, that there were oth­ers that put in a lot of work too. Lit­tle did I know, though, that the com­mit­tee mem­bers were send­ing peo­ple to me specif­i­cal­ly because of all the hard work I put in.  I don’t know why, but that real­ly sur­prised me. Maybe because I still expect so lit­tle from this class. I expect them to still not notice that I exist or to val­i­date me as some­one wor­thy of validation.

What real­ly sur­prised me the most, was that the com­mit­tee even got me a sur­prise gift for all my work. A vin­tage 1976 Won­der Woman glass. I was so sur­prised. I did­n’t feel I did any­thing spe­cial to war­rant it. Just did the work I said I would do. Con­tributed. I guess, if I take a step back and real­ly look, yes maybe I do go above and beyond what is required of me. I guess I’ve always been an over­achiev­er. But, it just feels nat­ur­al to me to do the best that I can. If I can pull of an idea or a task suc­cess­ful­ly and I know it will add value…then why not do it?

6‑months of plan­ning and even though it only last­ed a few hours, it was good to see peo­ple hav­ing fun. I had fun. It may not have seemed like it to some peo­ple as I stayed near my DJ equip­ment. It was my safe zone. Even after all these years, the anx­i­ety was still there. See­ing a sea of faces that some­times I would dread meet­ing in the halls of school…it was hard to break free of my bub­ble and go ven­ture into the waters. But I watched and I chat­ted with those that came up to see me.

The best com­pli­ment I received that night was from a class­mate who said (I’m total­ly para­phras­ing), that she was very nervous/anxious about com­ing and who would be there…but that we craft­ed the reunion in a way that alle­vi­at­ed all that. It was laid back, there were dis­plays to dis­tract and it worked real­ly well.

I had those same fears. Mat­ter of fact, I said to the com­mit­tee sev­er­al times, if I was­n’t a part of the plan­ning, I prob­a­bly would­n’t have gone. Lots of bad mem­o­ries to come to sur­face when I see some of those peo­ple face to face.

So, I look back and ask myself again this morning…why did I vol­un­teer? Why go through all this?

for me.

No one under­stands what it’s like walk­ing through a sea of peo­ple that you fear, nev­er know­ing what could hap­pen, what could be said. I went through that every day in the halls of that school. We may grow up, but those fears of the unknown stay with us for a very long time.

FOR ME.

I think I need­ed clo­sure. I need­ed to show the peo­ple that nev­er gave me a chance, those peo­ple that tried to push down my spirit…that you did­n’t break me. It was­n’t until this year that I real­ized that. It took my best friend, who I did­n’t meet until much lat­er in life, to show me that I was­n’t bro­ken. She wrote a book recent­ly, and there is a char­ac­ter in there based on me. She wrote a pas­sage that opened my eyes to this fact:

[Nora] always felt torn between annoy­ance at his eas­i­ly come by joy and envy that a per­son with his his­to­ry could still be as bright and open to won­der as an ever explor­ing child.”

And I guess I am. I still find Joy in things, I have a hap­py life. I may seem to be always mov­ing and busy, but I don’t think any­more that its because I’m run­ning away from anything…but instead, I’m run­ning towards something…happiness. Joy…peace.

And I think that is what I want­ed my fel­low class­mates to have. No mat­ter what they might have gone through dur­ing high school, or what they might have put oth­ers through…I want­ed them to expe­ri­ence for a moment, a slice of what I do now…joy, friend­ship, and happiness.

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