The bulk of those in my high school group of friends are a year older than I am. Recently, our group text thread was a robust conversation about whether they should attend their 20-year high school reunion. They chatted about whom they would want to see and whom they desperately would not want to see. But most of their interests and anxieties have been mitigated by social media. Unlike at their five-year reunion — when they were surprised to see who had gotten breast augmentation, who had married someone the age of our parents, who had finally outgrown the adolescent awkward phase and who had become a drug dealer — we now know. It's on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tracking the odd roads life takes everyone on is about as difficult as opening a web browser.
Well, they did decide to attend, and I, for the life of me, couldn't imagine why.
"Why do you have any interest in going?" I asked them.
"I don't know," my friend Jen replied. "I guess it'll just be nice to see everyone."
But who is everyone?
When I visit my parents in the town where I grew up, I nearly break out in hives, overwhelmed by the anxiety of possibly bumping into someone I don't remember — or someone I do remember but who doesn't remember me. If I'm interested in getting an update on someone's life, it's as simple as friending that person on Facebook and sending him or her a message. There are only two friends whom I miss from my teenage years, and I miss them because they're not on social media. And not being the social media type, they also are not the reunion type.
"Aren't all your friends in this room?" I asked Jen. She looked around at her living room, filled with the members of our group of friends, all our husbands and children. She laughed. "Well, yeah," she said, "but reunions aren't for friends."
Then what are they for?
I thought about this question for quite some time. What would motivate me to attend a reunion? It no longer has the appeal of a Romy and Michele situation. If I simply wanted to impress or shock people or make them envious, an onslaught of social media selfies and self-promotional posts could take care of that. So why go?
And then I came up with why I, personally, might attend. It wouldn't be to catch up or to show off. I would go to apologize.
There was that time when I accidentally left the cage open in environmental science and all the bunnies ran away. And the time I accidentally lit Michael's hair on fire with a Bunsen burner in chemistry class. My friend Taylor has said he's forgiven me for putting ice cubes down his shirt and pants but only recently admitted to me how embarrassing it was to look as if he'd had a pee stain. I'd apologize again.
I'd apologize to the boys I turned down for a school dance and then stopped talking to altogether because I felt guilty. I'd apologize to the boys who turned me down for school dances, only to have me stop talking to them altogether because I felt embarrassed.
I'd apologize for giving Chris a tampon for his bloody nose and not explaining to him what it was when he asked. And I'd say sorry to my health teacher for doing a presentation on the benefits of everything she was asking us to abstain from.
I'd apologize to that new girl, Angela. We attended the same coed slumber party only a week after she moved into town. I was still awake when she slipped into Matt's sleeping bag to have sex. The next morning, I told my friends, who then told other friends. When Angela approached me, she had tears in her eyes. "Why did you say that about me?" she asked. "We were just making out. Don't you know what making out looks like?"
I didn't. I had no idea. But I was too scared to admit it.
Angela was labeled a slut from that moment forward. Some things you can't take back or laugh about later. But perhaps you can apologize.
"I guess the fun part is that you have no idea who will show up," Jen said. "You don't know what memories will flood back to you."
Looks as if I will be attending my reunion next year.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.