Tuesday, November 22, 2011


My ten-year high school reunion is coming up, and my apathy towards this means that if I were to opt in, I'd now have to pay the non-early-bird fee of $75 (or even $100) to attend. Plus the usual $33-plus-Metrocard-fare to get into the city. On the one hand, I suppose I'm well-enough-situated to go to this sort of thing, in that I am married, near the end of a PhD program, and not substantially worse-looking than I was at 17. Movies and sitcoms tell me that I ought to go to my high school reunion given those conditions. (Although I suppose being single would be an extra reason to go, in that you might meet an old flame. Especially with a math-and-science high school, I can't imagine anyone would go to a reunion to show off "accomplishments" like marriage or kids. Of course, not too many had high school sweethearts, either...)

I have not gone on to make a lot of money (to put it mildly), so there's that. But I'm a Stuyvesant success story by association, what with my husband's astrophysicist-ness. (That I've gone on to a grad program in the humanities probably owes something to my delight at a version of school that doesn't involve back-to-back periods of science.) Point being, I could go with my head held relatively high, and the normal reason not to go to reunions is a sense that you're not where you thought you'd be/imagine others would be at whichever age.

But the main reason not to go is that the main reasons to go are absent. I only just now left my hometown, so unlike the five-year reunion, which was fun because most had been away for college, this time around I've had years to keep in touch with, see at parties, or awkwardly run into, my classmates. NY is funny like that. Most of the class - those who made a go of some career and those in the proverbial parental basement alike - probably lives there.

But more to the point, there's Facebook. Not only has Facebook told me, over the years, everything I've wanted to know and more (thank you, "hide" function) about said classmates. I can see, on the event page on Facebook, who's attending. I can see what each of those people have been up to, what they now look like. And this is a high school whose grads (and, no doubt, current students) are all on the site. One of my classmates is even employed there and in Zuckerberg's inner circle, which I know thanks to guess which site. On account of Facebook, there are no surprises.

So, readers who have faced the reunion-in-the-age-of-Facebook dilemma. Is it still fun to go to one of these things when there are no surprises? Or are there surprises, because online everyone's putting their best selves forward? I have until Friday to decide.


Flavia said...

I went to my ten-year pretty much only because two of my best HS friends--who lived hundreds of miles away from me and from each other--were both going, and it seemed worthwhile to have the quality time with them. We were all three pretty negative and skeptical about the event. (We hadn't had a five-year, so many people we hadn't seen in 10 years.)

And in the end I found the event surprisingly fun. Though my HS class was less thoroughly online then than they are now, I'd known the vital stats for most of the people I thought I cared about. . . but those vital stats don't tell you who's matured into someone really interesting, or hilarious, or with quirky weird interests worth hearing about. And you also don't know who's married or partnered with a supremely cool person. I found I liked my classmates more than I ever had (or liked more of them, more sincerely) in HS.

I also came away feeling that my present & past selves, and my present & past worlds, were more thoroughly integrated, and I'd previously felt them to be pretty discontinuous. That made it worthwhile to me, but YMMV.

Phoebe said...


Hmm. It would be an excuse to go into the city, and you've almost convinced me to email the friend who tried to convince me to go with her a while back and tell her that I've warmed up to the idea. I could definitely see it being more fun than expected - especially because ever since moving to the woods, all social encounters, however brief, end up being great fun.

But the factors you mention - no five-year, friends living far apart, knowing only vital stats - would, I think, make this more appealing, but are absent in my case. These are people I've seen socially as well as unintentionally pretty much continuously since college. One of my grad school friends just got engaged to a high school classmate of mine, and this couple did not meet though me - there are just that many of my classmates milling around in the same circles.

People from this high school no doubt mature as does everyone between 18 and 28, but there's not much in the way of reinvention. I suppose we all had a couple good years, before social networking took off and before everyone moved back to the city, to try on different personas, but even then everyone tended to cluster at the same colleges.

Thus the "first world problems" tag - when you go to an elite-but-huge public high school in a city like NY, almost everyone goes to college, many to name-brand private ones and top state schools, you're on the one hand lucky that you've probably never had to deal with the notoriously upsetting parts of the high school experience (cliques, popular kids, bullies, teen pregnancy-or-even-close), and that you had the freedom to go around on your own, in a big city, well before your suburban/rural counterparts could, on account of public transportation rather than cars. On the other, it's as if high school never ends, because everyone's always still somehow present, probably even before Facebook, but that doesn't help. And I had a good time in high school, precisely because it was fun to run around the city with a bunch of smart kids ages 14-17. But it's odd when people I've only just met can remind me of embarrassing or even mundane details of my life at 14-17, because everyone knows all.

Anonymous said...

You'd haave to pay me to go to my ten year reunion.