My college reunion. I really had to work to get there. The reunion conflicted with a Bar Mitzvah extravaganza. But I was determined to go. I left the Saturday morning service early to hop on a plane that got into Boston at 4:17 p.m. My return flight? Sunday morning 6:55 a.m. to make the Bar Mitzvah party at noon. I was nervous. I over-packed. When I landed in Boston, I snuck into the handicapped accessible bathroom with my suitcase and hanging bag (Larry David would have given me props) and awkwardly changed my outfit. Twice.
As I neared the campus, I was sure I needed make-up. I KNEW I needed deodorant. My anxiety level was high. I hadn't seen many of these people in 17 years. What did they remember about me? Did they remember the me when I first arrived with a bun in my hair, blasting classical music trying to appear scholarly? Did they remember me the next day when I was showering with all my clothes on because a two-liter bottle of purple passion told me to do so? Did they remember when I went on spring break to Florida and came back so painfully burned my eyes had swollen shut with orange ooze? Did they remember my black and white poster of Bo Bice?
Post reunion, I have no idea if anyone remembers any of these things. We didn't talk about that. It was all smiles and hugs, laughter and music. Even a little late night pizza and pumpkin beer. And I'm left wondering why I was so freaked out and why do so many of us fret so much about reunions? Why do we worry what "Joe" is going to think about the wrinkles we've acquired since the last time he sat behind us in class? Or fret over what to wear? Or wax our lip when a fuzzy one seemed to serve our significant others just fine? Or suddenly start working out in a panic to hide well-established love handles? All this time has gone by. And in this time, significant life events that have propelled us from our past and into our present. We have left high school and college far behind—and yet there is this stranglehold of time so many of us feel when an innocent piece of paper arrives in the mail, excitedly encouraging us to attend our reunions.
What is it about the past? Is it shame about who we used to be? About who we are now? About who we loudly and publically swore we would or would not become before graduating into the world of possibilities? Or is it that who we were—jock, cheerleader, nerd, outcast etc.—isn't who we are anymore and we're out to rewrite or relive who we used to be? Well, maybe. For me, when I saw people, actually saw them face-to-face, surprisingly, I wasn't thinking about who they used to be. I fell into a pace of who they are presently. And they with me. I realized all the fretting, the worry and the waxing was unnecessary (the first outfit would have been fine!) And although I reserve the possibility that I will relapse with terrible anxiety come the next reunion opportunity because of how my body, my brain or my life has changed, change is the theme to all reunions. If we stayed the same, we'd never agree to go back.