real life

'I was snubbed at my high school reunion.'

Many people moan about their fear and loathing of high school reunions.

I’m not one of them.

I love reunions. I love seeing how people turn out. I love recognising the young girl within a woman. I love seeing how most of us are just the same as we were, just older, wiser, wearier and most often happier.

I love laughing about bad perms, blue eyeshadow, our 80s harem pants, the times we were busted eating chocolate cake in the out-of-bounds area and the detention we suffered as penance.  I love the feeling that we are shared survivors of a period of bad fashion, a patchy education, puberty and life.

Detention never got this good

Then I went back to a reunion of my first high school - and I was snubbed big time.

I'd left that school in Year 10 because I was naughty.  I'd been told it would be good if I turned over a new leaf, somewhere far, far away and while I didn't really want to leave my friends, especially my best friend, I saw the sense in it.

I wanted to emerge from my older sister's long shadow and grow up.  So I moved to the only private school that would take me.  My parents hoped their two-year investment would help me get my act together.

My best friend at my public school didn't want me to leave. She accused me of being a "snob".  I vowed to her I wouldn't become one. In fact, the moment I got to that private ladies college I started swearing like a trooper and speaking with the most heavy Oztralyan accent I could, just to show her I wasn't a snob and to tell my parents while I would try and study, I'd never be a 'lady'.

The rich and the poor evenutally got it on in Pretty In Pink

But, from what I remember, after I left, my friend from the old school didn't want to hang out anymore. And I made new friends, loved my new school and moved on. She and my old mates became memories, part of my past and part of me.

When I was invited back to their reunion I went feeling rather nervous.  Would they recognise and remember me? Would I recognise and remember them? This was their Year 12 reunion, so I felt like a bit of an imposter. Yet I knew from my other reunion that by the 30-year get together, people had moved on from being insecure, nervous and worried. They had settled into themselves, become unashamed and proud of who they were. They didn't talk popularity, or income, or career - they just laughed, hugged, remembered and celebrated survival, children and joy.

So I went.

There were many I didn't recognise. The years had changed us. Permed hair was straight. Baby faces were changed by life's hardships and thrills, and bodies had thickened. But I recognised by best friend of the past immediately - she still had the same long hair and curved mouth.

I waved across the room and she ignored me. 'Oh dear needs glasses' I thought.


I went up and kissed her.

She walked off.

It was a massive snub. A rejection. The woman she was talking to shrugged at me with an embarrassed smile. I gasped.

Suddenly I felt like the 15 year old I was when I last saw her. My heart clenched. I couldn't believe it, couldn't accept it. So I tried again. I approached her and said her name.

She walked off. Again. I think she left the reunion.

I felt like I'd been punched in the guts.

She'd hated me for 30 years. She had been furious for 30 YEARS!  That's an extremely long time to hold onto a grudge.  I wondered how I hadn't felt her rage from across the city and the globe. To be so hated so intensely was a shock.

Then suddenly I felt furious.  For god's sake, get over it love! This is your shit. Don't try and manipulate me 30 years later. I don't play those games anymore. Surely you've learnt something over the years. I raged all the way home talking to myself as I drove - I knew I looked like a crazy lady but I didn't care.

We were never this mean

Then I sat up with a final glass of wine, and I hurt for her.

I felt sad she was so upset and she'd hung onto hurt and anger for so long. This was a girl I'd cackled with at the back of the bus, chased kitttens with in her house and roamed the neighbourhood with, slouch-shouldered and bored for many years. I couldn't sleep. Had I caused her pain? Did seeing me bring back that teenage girl within her who could be insecure, abandoned and small-minded.

Was I a bitch? What had I done? You know those nights. If I'd had a pill to sleep I would have taken two, if I'd had a pill to turn back time I would have gone back and watched us then, or at least ensured I hadn't left the house that night.

In the morning I rang a friend who is a pscyhologist and told her what happened. I asked her if I should write to my former best friend. She told me not to get involved. That there was no point and no use.

So I let go of my hurt that she was hurt and my anger that she was angry. And I just felt sad.

Sad that we can hang onto stuff for so long. That it can stay in our bones and burst out when we don't expect it.  Sad that 30 years is not long enough to wipe away feelings of rejection and loss.

I wish her well. And I'm sorry I left. No, I'm still glad I left.

But I'm sorry I hurt her.

Like this? Why not try ...

‘I was a high school bully, and I made one girl’s life hell.’

When do you hit the ‘prime of your life’? (You might be surprised).

It was a great comeback line, but it ended my relationship.

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