Monday, November 16, 2009

High school not-so-confidential

So I missed my high school reunion. While it would have been lovely to catch up with folks who in many respects defined an important period of my life, I realized that now is just too soon. I don't know how long is considered "long enough" after someone close to you dies before you feel right attending larger events, being among people and generally being your usual smiley-happy self. But I do know that I'm not quite there yet.

We attended a family wedding in New York last week. It was probably too soon, as well, but it was my cousin's wedding, and being there was incredibly important for us all. Her mom, my aunt, is my late dad's sister, and in an extended family where not everyone seems to appreciate the fact that we are, indeed, family, my aunt and uncle were - and still are - always there and always a central part of our and our kids' lives. It was tough to be part of a celebration so soon after losing my father, but I'm so glad we went.

As we wrestled with whether or not to also attend the reunion, we realized it just didn't rate on the same plane as my cousin's wedding. At the risk of offending the organizers - and I'm sure we did, but whatever - we simply didn't see ourselves pretending to be happy shiny people at this thing. Had the timing been different, we would have been there in a heartbeat, and I would have come back with a memory card filled with photos and a head full of fond memories to boot.

But the timing wasn't different. Life sucks that way, sometimes. And as I endure the torrent of "gee, you should have been there" e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets and IMs over the next week or so, I'll have to keep in mind that not everyone gets that being among the crowd is the last thing I want or need at this early stage. Some folks get that some days I still need to be alone, and some folks don't. And some folks don't bother to take the time to read.

I'm learning, slowly, that I don't necessarily need to waste cycles trying to make everyone aware. It just doesn't matter.


invisible said...

A high school reunion is just loser-palooza. Failed, uhappy people, whose best days are behind them. And wait until the D.J. plays Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" and see the recognition and sad regret play behind the eyes of your former classmates.
They lie about their jobs, go to the gym three months before the reunion to get rid of twenty years of fat. They will play one upmanship to try to feel superior,and after it is all over
try to believe it was fun.
But there is fun. The nerds now own million dollar companies, and the pretty girls who wouldn't give them the time of day in grade eleven, now live in trailers with their alcoholic former football stars.
The plain girls in grade ten, filled out and got georgous and successful.
You, however, are an international man of mystery. You speak cryptically,tell them "I am not at liberty to say" or answer questions with " That's classified."
And you don't always drink beer, but when you do, it's Dos Equus.

Mojo said...

I went to my 10-year reunion thinking it'd be interesting to see who had already gotten old and fat and bald and who had blossomed and become gorgeous and successful and maybe see some old friends (good for the soul, Bob Seger would have us believe).

And somewhere during the second day of festivities it dawned on me that all these people I found myself among were people I'd known, people I could even put names to (most of them anyway), but what they were not were people I'd hung out with back in the day. And the people I did hang out with back in the day? None of them were there.

I skipped the 20th and 30th reunions... probably offended the organizers if they even stopped to think about it. I quit getting mail from the alumni association years ago. (Who has an alumni association in high school anyway, I ask you?)

You're right. Some people get it, some don't. And those that don't never will until it happens to them. They are not worth wasting good worry over. You go at your own pace, feel your way through it and if you come out the other side down a few friends, then I'd say they weren't true friends in the first place.

kenju said...

I fully understand why you missed it, Carmi. It would feel disrespectful to have fun like that so soon after your father's passing. But I do hope you'll go to the next one. Regardless of the things klaatu and Mojo said, some people have a great time at high school reunions - I always do.

Clinical Researcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clinical Researcher said...

Hi Carmi... Not to sound like an old Jewish mama, (we know I am), if you're anything like your dad was, he wouldn't want you to miss life's best amusements. My dad passed away, 13 years ago. I thought I'd never be happy again. I was his little girl and he was always my rock. When people tell you that time heals all, don't listen to them. Time does not heal but is does make the pain a bit easier to deal with. A day doesn't go by that thoughts and memories of my dad don't enter my mind. I've learned that embracing those memories has become comforting.
When the next "big event" comes around, GO and have fun. Imagine your dad watching and laughing from above. Imagine that proud look he used to give you. Don't you feel their pain when you're holding your kids when they are hurt or crying? Isn't watching your kids playing and having fun the best feeling ever?
Your dad is no different.
Don't stop making him proud!

P.S. High School reunions are great! Being yourself while watching others act like people they're not is hysterical!!!

Sol said...

I was so glad you popped in. I know that it's just not a comfortable feeling to go to a large event with basically a fake smile on your face. Hopefully people will understand this because there are times when it just seems like a burden to be there when you'd rather be alone.

I probably didn't make any sense.. I just feel bad that you lost your father. It takes time to heal.. indulge yourself in that time you need.


Cloudia said...

Some folks here
some folks there
some folks no place
some folks-everywhere.

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Anonymous said...

In the end, Carmi, only two things are important, and two others are true.
1. Being with those who get it - i.e. your family.
2. Taking the time you need to tuck your Dad into the corner of your heart that his lifetime prepared for him there - and feeling healed enough to go out and be happy, knowing always that his corner of your heart goes with you.
1. The people who mattered in high school don't need you at the reunion; you're pretty public. They'll find you.
2. Fun will return, maybe as a reunion, maybe just photographing your kids tossing pennies in a fountain. When you're ready, it will be there waiting. It always is.

Irene said...

Take as much time as you need. Everyone is different. It took me about a year to feel like wanting to attend those larger functions after my mother died. It was hard enough working in the women's department at a large retail store during Mother's Day.

I've been four high school reunions, the. The 10 year is the show off "look how great I am" reunion. After that, the reunions are more sincere and people are truly happy to see you, no matter what. Well, it's been that way for me.