My 20-year high school reunion is at the end of this month, and to my surprise, I'm actually interested in going. Like a lot of odd and unpopular kids who went to high school in small towns, I couldn't wait to graduate and get the hell out of Dodge. Half my motivation for excelling academically was to get a full scholarship and, therefore, a guaranteed ticket out. It would not be an understatement to say that I hated everyone.
But time does interesting things. Two decades removed from all that angst and crippling insecurity, I'm genuinely curious to see how some of my classmates are doing. There are only a handful of people from my high school days that I've kept in touch with, so almost everyone in our class of 375 graduates is a mystery to me. A few weeks ago, I created a profile on the Facebook-style site that was created for alums of my high school. Almost immediately, I started hearing from people I hadn't laid eyes on since June 1988.
In sixth grade, I became friends with three adorable geeks who will forever be known to me as "the Kevins": Kevin F., now a college professor, Kevin E., a doctor, and Kevin B., a pastor. Kevin F. moved away a few years before graduation, but he remains one of the funniest people I've ever met. He not only remembered who I was, but that I was "the best cartoonist in the school." If I see him at the reunion, I'm giving him a big hug.
It was also nice to see so many fellow misfits/outcasts/nerds doing well. Blair, an artist who now lives in London, was a true individual who put up with a lot of shit for standing out. This sounds so tame now, but Blair and her Goth posse caused a mini-scandal by showing up at our junior high school dressed like Boy George. Keep in mind that this was south Georgia in 1983. Blair got slapped with the "weirdo" tag, and it stuck. I love it that she is, by far, the most worldly and sophisticated of us all. And she's a Mensa society member to boot.
Also on the "not recommended" list was being gay. There were several classmates I wondered about over the years - whether they were closeted, as I suspected, or just ... different. So far, I'm five for five in my predictions, not that there's anything wrong with that. As lonely as it sometimes was to be a morose, minority nerd, it was probably a cakewalk compared to being a gay guy at a jock-centric high school in the mid-1980s. While I have no idea what the intervening years were like for them, many are now out, partnered and raising kids, just like the rest of us.
So here's to surviving adolescence, growing up and learning to accept yourself while getting over yourself. I think we're going to have a good time.