My town just held its major summer festival/small town hoopla this past weekend. If you're from a small town yourself, you know what I'm talking about. Our festival is fish themed: four days focused around vendors peddling fish burgers and contests such as the fish toss where contestants partner up to don trash bags and hurl herrings at each other from increasing distances. There's a craft show, a parade, kids' activities, fireworks, and various sport tournaments. It's also the designated time of year for class reunions. Of course, now that I'm not a preteen, I avoid it like the plague.
As a homeschooled jungle freak, I was surprised last week when I was added to a Facebook group for people who graduated in what would have been my graduating high school class had I stayed in public school. I was an actual part of this class for just shy of three years before my parents decided to homeschool my brother and I once I'd finished third grade. I remained somewhat involved with the peers who made up my "class" through sports and various other extracurricular activities, but it wasn't until college, when you begin being linked to your peers through common interest and not just common birthdate, that I felt I'd found "my tribe."
While I do happen to live with one of my public school classmates, the truth is, Andy aside and not counting the boy who came home from college to work at the local grocery store, I don't see much of my "classmates." In fact, there's only one other classmate who I communicate with on a "Christmas card" level and who I try to meet up with when our paths cross.
But when I looked at that list of names in the Facebook group, something happened. In the odd sensation that only Facebook provide, I felt myself being drawn in, fascinated by what these people had done with their lives. My jaw sagged as I realized just how many were married with children already. I wished everyone had more job info posted.
After all, looking at that list of names was a class reunion in a way. And the whole idea of class reunions appeals to very strange aspect of the human personality. The judgmental side. The competitive side. They foster a shallow interest in others which is there mainly because you want to see how your life stacks up to theirs.
And if I did happen to find myself in a room with all these people, I'd love to act like I'm an award winning author. I always got a kick out of being the one who seemed to have it all together. I'd want to be the calm, confident one who, if I suck in my stomach and give up breathing for a while, could still zip up her prom dress.
But I know how it'd really go. My left hand's ring finger would start to feel awfully naked. I'd feel a surge of horror when I realized the job I tell people have (the seasonal, full-time manager postion) isn't how I define myself at all. I'd watch the toddlers falling about at everyone's feet and I'd start to wonder if I'm wasting a perfectly good uterus. The niggling doubts would burble up.
We're only 2 years shy of our 10 year reunion. Of course, I plan to avoid it like that plague.