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?
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.
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.