Can you keep a secret? No really, you can't tell anyone!... I... was in band. Phew! That was a load off. Seriously though, I was a tried and true, died in the wool geek in high school. I played trumpet in the high school band and sang Soprano in the high school choir, when I wasn't hanging out with the French Club, Future Teachers of America or Model United Nations team. Yup, that's me, geek to the core.
Somewhere, hidden in the midst of all of that geekdom, was an athlete too. Strange to think it possible, but I was a three sport Varsity athlete as well and even went on to play basketball and volleyball in college. I did not consider myself popular although I certainly had friends and even had friends that were popular. But I don't think that I was. I was not voted to be a member of the Homecoming Court, which was surely a measuring stick of popularity in those days. I had a boyfriend my Junior and Senior years, but even boyfriends weren't measures of popularity or a lack thereof, unless the boyfriend in question was himself popular. (In my case, not so much.)
I bet you're wondering why I'm revealing my hidden side to you now. Why after all these years, do I suddenly open the floodgates of teenage angst and cringing embarrassment? Because of "all those years." That's right, sports fans, it's my 20th high school reunion. And if we all needed more of a reminder of that person we wanted to forget (ourselves at 17 or 18,) let's cue up the D.J., pour some watered down drinks and pull out those yearbooks!
Seriously though, all of this talk of reunions has me revisiting myself at 17. I took out my Senior Memory book and my yearbook and sat there in a daze, turning page after musty page of memories, remembering faces and times. What struck me most was that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that feeling that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I just wasn't good enough. It might come as a shock to some of you, but I never felt quite right in my own skin in high school, I never felt like I quite fit in the right way. Square peg in a round hole, maybe, but something never quite felt right.
Sure, I had friends and I had sports and I had those after-school clubs and activities (and I quit band my senior year, much to Amy S. and Micah P.'s sadness) but at the end of the day, I never felt like I belonged. Even today, I'm not sure what it was or why it was, but I always felt like I was searching for a piece to make everything fit. It always seemed like something was missing or not quite as it should have been. Like I said, I was never comfortable in my own skin, so it is possible that it was all on the inside.
To this day, I have trouble walking into a room alone. I still carry bad memories of the Homecoming dance my freshman year - no date and no group of friends to travel with. Candy had opted not to go and Trix was going with friends. So Mom and Dad dropped me off on their way to dinner. It was the worst possible situation for me, arriving alone, unsure of where to go or who was there. Where was I going to sit? Would anyone ask me to dance? Did I put on enough deodorant? Will anyone be able to tell that I'm not wearing a bra? (Not that I probably really needed one, but there is some sense of security in that. Since the dress was one shoulder, and Mom pretty much dropped the ball that day, I had to brave the world sans brassiere.) The results of that evenings endeavor are stamped on my brain - no one asked me to dance and I only danced once, after asking a friend's boyfriend. I worried the whole time that he would be able to tell I was sweating like a pig and embarrassed. Oy.
The thought of my reunion brings mixed feelings. I'm excited to see friends that I have not seen in 10 years. I'm curious about classmates that we didn't see at 10 years and that no one can seem to find. I feel like I have certainly grown up and made a life for myself. But at the same time, I'm scared. Hiding inside of me, trembling in fear, is that geek from high school, that girl who was never really quite sure of herself and who never really felt comfortable. She doesn't want to go back there, because the thought of having to talk to those people just makes her want to melt into the floorboards.
I'm in negotiations with "her," trying to work out a deal so that I can go. Right now, I've got her down to a new outfit and snazzy pair of shoes, but only if I spring for the airfare. Of course any trip back to Ohio would not be complete without Jen, my best friend and fellow band geek for so many years (who I sadly left behind to fend for herself that senior year.) And hopefully Tawnya will be there to cause trouble with, just like we did in the old days.
If it is like most things in life, the anticipation and build-up will be worse than the event. I'm pretty sure I will have a good time and I know I will love being able to see and reconnect with so many friends. Who knows, maybe someone will admit that they, too, felt like a geek all those years ago and didn't think that they fit in so well either. Maybe I'll find out that the "popular" girls didn't feel so popular after all. (Well, o.k., realistically that probably won't happen, but we can hope, right?)