I met my friend A. for lunch on Saturday. I’m so happy she found me again because I didn’t even realize how much I’d missed her until I saw her again. People can change an awful lot in twenty years – I know I have. A. changed too, but she’s still the sweet soul that I remembered. We talked for six hours. Six. About everything and nothing. I knew we wouldn’t run out of things to say, but it was still good to find out that we still have things in common. Although I think my love of head-banging music scared her a little.
We talked about some of our classmates and she mentioned that one girl had died. A girl that I wasn’t particularly close to, but someone that I liked a lot. If I had gone to our class reunion, I would have looked for her, so I was really sad to find out she was gone.
That bit of news sent me on a mission to find out what happened to Dawn. I couldn’t find anything. I finally found her mother’s obit, which gave me Dawn’s married name, but her obit was not online so all I know is that she passed in 1994. For some reason, that was really shocking to me. She was so young.
The search for Dawn’s obit led me to a school website, where I found out another of my classmates had died. I knew this kid from elementary school. He had diabetes and he was on a special diet, which is kind of weird when you’re seven years old. Other than that, he was really an angel. I know that must sound ridiculous, but he was. The first thing I thought of was the way he smiled. It didn’t just light up his face, it lit up the city. He was just a good kid. He was nice to everyone, and everyone liked him. His obit was longer than most and the very last line gave me a little chill.
“Jason will be remembered most for his vibrant personality, his enthusiasm for life and his wonderful smile.“
Of course, that sent me on another morbid trip down memory lane. I went back on the school site and started checking people out. Our reunion was a couple years ago, but I missed it. I found out that the geeky bastard went to the reunion and he hasn’t aged one day. He’s Dorian Gray.
John married Robin. Joe married an older chick. Stephanie married Mark. Susan E. married John Z. I never knew they were a thing. Darrin married Susan A. Kurt married Lori. Jim married Denise. Stephanie N. and Gina still look like whores (and probably still are). Shauna is still gorgeous (and not gay. Damn!). Barbara is still a snob. Tammy still has grasshopper eyes. Tom is the only one who got fat, but Kurt Z is bald (but still really cute).
And even though I read all about who owned their own businesses, who married whom, who had college-age kids (!) and who was disgustingly successful … I didn’t care nearly as much as I thought I would.
I’ve written a lot here about my inferiority complex. My friend A. said something about not feeling “smart enough” to teach, which she has always wanted to do. A. is very intelligent. I can barely tolerate stupid people and I certainly don’t spend an entire afternoon talking to them. I don’t know where she got the idea she wasn’t good enough.
Looking at the pictures of the hot, skinny, successful-looking women, I understood. For just a second I fell back into it – being on the outside, not fitting in, not being good enough. But it was just for a second. My path in life has been circuitous, but I’m on the road to success. So it took me longer. So what? So I won’t be a millionaire, be a shrink, or be a State Representative. So what?
I’m going to the next reunion, for one reason. I’m not unhappy.
And I bet that a lot of those people can’t say the same thing. I haven’t achieved my goals. I haven’t done the things I want to do; but I’m closer now than I ever was – and I’m not unhappy.
I can’t remember a time in my life when that was true.
I wouldn’t trade my not unhappiness to be 30 lbs lighter or a million bucks richer.