AHS Reunion

AHS Reunion

AHS Reunion

When my son first noticed AHS Reunion on the calendar, he looked at me and asked, “American Horror Story reunion?”

“Altona High School reunion,” I replied, though in the back of my mind I was wondering if the ‘horror story’ part might be right.

I had accepted the invitation early on. It was a small and easy step to click the ‘Yes’ button on Facebook to say I was going. As the event drew closer, my feet dragged and I found myself thinking, “I don’t want to go. I can’t face the people I went to school with all those years ago. I never really fit in. I always felt like the third wheel. I simply did not belong.”

I found some photos I’d taken from school excursions and camps. They’d withstood the ravages of time as well as me, which means they didn’t look quite so bright and fresh anymore. Photoshop enabled me to clean them up a bit … if only there was a version for touching up ‘life’! I added the photos to our little Facebook group, tagging people I knew. (Scroll down to see the photos.) The reaction to them was great, and a good many of us had a laugh at what we were like back then. More photos from other people quickly followed, and some were saved for the night.

In early August I responded to a post about nerves, and outed myself as an introvert. This is what I said:

I’m going, but I’m such an introvert that I will probably hide in some corner. It took me years to realise what was supposedly ‘wrong’ with me. Social media makes it easier to connect with people, but face-to-face is a real nightmare. Hugs will be gratefully accepted to help me feel like I ‘belong’ and perhaps draw me out of my hiding place.

It would have been so easy to stay home and work on one of my books, or watch a movie with my son. I’m always challenging myself to try new things and push myself in situations that place me well and truly outside of my comfort zone. And so it was that I found myself walking along the path from the car park to the venue, my heart pounding and stomach lurching.

I was greeted by four familiar, smiling faces. Hugs were forthcoming, and even a little hand-holding, which was a great way to break the ice. A name tag was issued, forms were signed, and then it was time for the dreaded photo. I think I may have looked better if I’d worn my black wings. Perhaps next time.

There were candles in one corner of the room, for those friends who were no longer with us. I knew two of them had passed, the others were a shock. We may seem ancient to toddlers, yet in reality we are not that old … certainly not old enough that some of us should no longer be here. Dear, dear friends, you are remembered and sorely missed.

It was fantastic to catch-up with people I hadn’t seen in years, many of whom I haven’t seen since high school, 32–35 years ago. The girls mostly looked the same … “Didn’t we do work experience together? Do you remember calisthenics? You had long hair and glasses. You were so outgoing …” The list of questions and comments goes on and on and on.

Sorry guys, but physically you seem to have changed the most. If it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have recognised many of you. I’d be looking at a name tag and thinking to myself that the name was familiar, but the face didn’t belong to the person I remembered. The strange thing about catching up after all those years, is that after a few hours it’s as if no one has really changed at all. We’re older, hopefully wiser, and more tactful and tolerant than we were back in the day. I may be a grumpy old woman, but if you are respectful and courteous to me, I will be respectful and courteous to you. (If the pushy man who catches the same train as me in the morning, and said behind my back, “Let her on or she’ll complain,” is reading this, that last remark is really directed to you. The only time I complain quite loudly at the station is when people boarding the train won’t let those who are disembarking get off the train!)

There were a lot of hugs during the night. I was very grateful for every one of them. (Apologies to anyone I didn’t get a chance to hug, or say a brief hello to. I didn’t intentionally ‘ignore’ you.) A number of people confessed to feeling the same way I did. Many had partners with them, or came in small groups. I’m sure that made it somewhat easier. One person did offer to give me a ride there, which was a very kind thing to do. I declined though. I thought I might need to make a quick exit, if it was all too much for me.

I did make it through the night, and being the (midnight) pumpkin that I am, quietly slipped away while the others were making their way to another venue to party on. It’s now 2:00 am and I can’t sleep. My ears are ringing, my voice is non-existent, and so I find myself at the keyboard, writing this. (Note to self: proofread this later today before you click ‘Publish’.)

Thank you to the event organisers and everyone who attended. I can now crawl back under my rock, where I feel most at home. Perhaps my rock will shrink, the more often I go to this type of event. Only time will tell. Hopefully it won’t be another 32–35 years before we catch up again.

Take care, stay well and keep safe!

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