As I return from my high school reunion and reflect on all that happened this past weekend, I come away with a better picture of many of my classmates and an awareness of the limitations of, for lack of better word, nostalgia.
On Saturday, after lunching at Skyline Chili with some classmates, I decided to go out alone to see the school. In revisiting my old haunts, I might better recall what I had felt as an adolescent, my hopes and well as my fears, the excitement as well as the anxiety.
I experienced none of that.
You see, six years ago (or so), they tore down the building that had served as the Upper School when I was a student and replaced it with a modern monstrosity. They didn’t even spare the entryway which had a certain archetypal significance to many alumni. Instead of recalling my past, I became quite depressed, visiting a place where I had experienced much, but which had no physical resemblance to the high school I had once attended.
As I walked around campus, looking for familiar face, I saw only one, the teacher/coach I had least to wanted to see. I resisted the temptation to tell him off for never congratulating me or even encouraging me even after I had run much better than he had expected in my first Cross Country races in high school.
I hurried away from the school and found a certain comfort in helping my Dad hang pictures in his newly-repainted basement.
That night, at the dinner with my classmates — as at the cocktail reception the previous night — I saw a different side to my one-time peers. We had a small class (67) and with not everyone returning, there were too few of us to separate into our adolescent cliques. As a result, we all talked to one another; I learned that many of those whom I had assumed had just coasted through high school had also difficult times in their teenage years.
It seemed everyone had had some kind of difficulty and some who seemed part of the social mainstream, reported that they, like me, had felt outsiders in high school. In talking to them, I gained a greater appreciation for their difficult situations — even as they differed from my own. Perhaps I understood those who, in our high school days, had seemed so popular because it no longer mattered to me whether or not they liked me. I was no longer trying to impress them. As an adult with such an attitude, I could better see them as they were, as they are.
No longer envying their social success, I saw them as real people. No longer believing that happiness meant being like those with such (apparent) success, I was not afraid to come out to them as gay. Perhaps, I was a bit too forthcoming about my sexuality. I did talk about the blog — but I suffered no adverse reaction for it, not for my sexuality nor for my politics.