Sunday, September 23, 2018

Romy and Skylar's High School Reunion

Skylar had his 10-year high school reunion last night so we spent the evening with people who have no memory of the original Jurassic Park movie being in theaters.

I was mostly excited to go because of the Facebook drama that preceded the event. Skylar kept me updated for the three months that it all lasted. I'm probably not allowed to talk about it here but Skylar only spot checks this site so there's at least a 40% chance he won't see this anyway.

It all started when the organizer announced that tickets to this event were going to be $40. That would apparently cover the cost of the venue and food. I wasn't surprised when I heard this. Some friends of mine have attended high school reunions for more. Mine cost $20 because I live in Cheap Lake City.

But the ticket price started a conversation on the high school reunion Facebook page. And that conversation got ugly.

There was an irate post by someone who was very upset that this was going to cost anything at all.

There were responses to this post that devolved into general name-calling.

At one point a horse girl tried to helpfully explain to the original poster that if she just saved one dollar a day for 40 days, she would have $40, like this was a Sarah McLachlan animal abuse situation.

Skylar started singing "In the Arms of the Angels" when he told me about this comment.

Eventually someone started talking about an upcoming amputation. I don't know whether that was related to the ticket price conversation, and I never heard any more details about it, but I do know that there was a conversation about amputation at some point on this Facebook page.

The loop was finally closed when someone from band informed the original poster that they would have started a gofundme for her if she hadn't been such a jerk about all of this in the first place.

Skylar and I flew to Portland late Friday night. The following morning we wandered town with his family. We returned to his parents' house in the late afternoon to get ready and to watch the entirety of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Skylar promised to walk up to a group of people he didn't know at the reunion and say "and so we meet again" in his best Romy voice.

And then we left.

There were tacos.

There were a lot of drunk people.

There was some hushed conversation about amputation.

At one point I got a text from Skylar's mother:

Mr. "I don't know why we even came; I'm not going to know anyone" seemed to know everyone, including the woman who was telling a story about a guy in their high school class who asked her out, to which Skylar thought the appropriate response was "oh, that guy? Yeah, he asked eeeeeeeeveryone out," because Skylar doesn't understand basic human communication.

The next thing I knew, we were driving to the home of a Chinese-American woman named Emma, whom Skylar knew in high school. Her parents moved back to China in 2008, right after Skylar and Emma graduated, and their home has just sat vacant, but furnished, since then. Totally untouched.

I don't have the words to describe how strange of an experience it was to walk through this place. The house was a giant time capsule. A time capsule for Skylar's history. It truly felt like I stepped into his teenage life. It was quiet, and haunting in a way.

We wandered the house, including Emma's old bedroom. It looked like the bedroom of a teen girl in 2008. There were pictures of her and Skylar together pinned to a bulletin board. Old books. Clothes from a decade ago. A sign taped to a mirror that said "Sky & Emma."

I don't know why, and it's hard to explain, but the experience felt weirdly nostalgic for me. And sad, for some reason. Even though these weren't my memories, or even, really, my era.

I have spent 24 hours now trying to figure out why it was so empty and haunting to be there, and why I so badly didn't want to leave.

Walking through that house just sort of made life feel fleeting. I pictured it. One day they were lying on the bed in a teenage girl's bedroom. She was talking about boys and he was pretending to only be interested in the conversation as a supportive friend. They were doing this between studying for a biology test.

And then the next time they stepped into that room was a decade later. Their lives look completely different. The two have traveled the world. They've grown apart. They aren't pinning notes with their names to bedroom mirrors anymore. Or even talking most months. They have slightly less optimism and substantially less energy during this visit to the house in a town where neither lives.

They'll never be in that space studying for biology while talking about boys again. The old youthful relationship can't be youthful in the same way. None of their relationships with anyone can be.

We walked around for a while, laughing at old pictures. Eventually we left. The door shut behind us. We climbed into the car, and drove away, into the evergreen forest that surrounded the quiet neighborhood.

It's making me feel weird today.

And tired.

And for some reason I sort of want a baby now.

But that might just be the heartburn medication.

Please enjoy some Strangerville, including the first of four stories from our recent show:

This time in Strangerville, Meg and Eli alienate anti-vaxxers. And a woman takes the Strangerville Live stage to explain the importance of TV in her life.
Thanks a lot, Proust, by Irene Stone
Production by Eli McCann and Preg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. A. Here I go, with the listed comments again. Why do you make me have so much I want to respond to?
    B. HOW YOUNG IS SKYLAR ANYWAY? I was 10 when Jurassic Park came out in the movie theatre, I know, because I remember SEEING IT in the movie theatre just after my birthday.
    C. I have never gone to any of my high school reunions, and now I feel absolutely justified for this life choice.
    D. I'm not actually sure my high school class ever got organized enough to have one. There were chats about getting some drinks/snacks and meeting in a park? Yeah, not going to travel across the country for that. I actually sort of thought no one did high school reunions anymore. Turns out, it's just my lame class. Not a shock, though.
    E. I feel the last part so much. Every time I go back to a town we used to live in (take your pick: New York, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Brasil, Netherlands, Maine) I get sort of trapped in that feeling of who I was, and where she intersects with who I am now - and I didn't even have to deal with the actual (creepy) artifacts remaining.
    F. Again, I feel like you were describing a scene from your Lifetime Channel Movie. I hope you know that the drug lord's people followed you to that creepy house. Can you hear the music? Can you see the camera shots of the dark bushes surrounding the house that angle up to the lighted windows with your three silhouettes inside?
    G. TOTALLY UNRELATED: Have you been watching the Great British Baking Show since they put out the new seasons? I made a self saucing pudding tonight and I just know Mary Berry would be so proud of me.
    H. I made it to H. Good night!

    1. Eli and Amy, Your posts remind me of this quote I love from Dr. Who:
      “We all change when you think about it, we’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.”

  2. My 10 year high school reunion cost $80 and it was supposed to cover an open bar. This meant for my husband and I to go it would have cost $160 and that's just ridiculous - we didn't go. We did go to my 20 year reunion (Yeah, I'm old) and I connected with a woman who I knew of in high school but never once spoke to. It's like we're the same person - kids born 1 day apart, both love Disney, both want to live in California, both love Renaissance fairs . . . .it's weird that we never became friends or even talked in high school - we were even in some of the same classes!

  3. If Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley can have a baby, so can you and Skylar. Just...maybe not while Skylar's in first year med school. I would guess it would derail things similarly to having a kid during law review write-on 1L year. Which is to say significantly.

    Plus also this is kind of why I don't have any interest in attending my high school reunions. In part because I never get invited (moving senior year means my original high school doesn't really claim me and my senior year high school doesn't really know me), but mostly because while I understand that everyone's changed and our dynamics will be different, I'm not sure I need to revisit everything from that era. I've adjusted to that part of my life being a closed book, and maybe it's okay not to open it? I'm sure there are things that would be psychologically beneficial, I just can't be bothered to get to that head space. And I'm a massive introvert who doesn't need human interaction to be happy, so there's that too.

    1. Interestingly - the whole everyone's changed thing worked in my favor - I was a big-time nerd in school. I'm still a big-time nerd but people are more accepting of it now. I'm more popular with my high school classmates as an adult living miles away from them than I ever was in high school.

  4. I graduated high school in 2007 (two counties north of Skylar, by the way!) and distinctly remember watching Jurassic Park in daycare. I turn 30 this December. So...sorry to say those of you who remember seeing Jurassic Park in theaters are officially old.

    I did not go to my ten year reunion. I had been predicting since our senior year that my class would be too disorganized to have one, and I was nearly right. It wound up being a last minute plan at a local bowling alley because someone knew the owners. 30 people showed up. The “planners” gave zero consideration to scheduling for anyone who has moved out of state (or, in at least one case, around the world to freaking Australia) and picked the date everyone local preferred. So it basically turned into this low key hang out sesh for a group of people who have been hanging out for the past ten years.

    We’ll see how 20 works out in 2027.

    1. That movie gave me massive nightmares - they showed it to you in DAYCARE????

    2. That is the standard response I get when telling people that memory, hahaha. Dinosaurs were all the rage then! My cohort was also watching The Land Before Time and We’re Back! a Dinosaur Story, and Dinosaurs was on tv (not the mama!). I haven’t seen Jurassic Park since daycare but I don’t have any traumatized memories.

    3. I’m class of 2004 and saw Jurassic Park in the theaters when I was eight. I definitely had nightmares.

      But my ten year reunion was also at a bowling alley!! And they didn’t reserve lanes or space or anything. So random people kept sitting in the middle of our reunion and then awkwardly noticing we were all one big group. Haha

    4. I graduated in 2007 as well and was on the fence of whether or not I would go to my 10-year until my best friend from high school confirmed that she was going. The fact that I would have my high school wing woman with me made it bearable. So if I didn't know anyone else from my 600-person class, I would at least know my friend. We probably had between 50 and 75 people show up, and I feel like a remembered at least half of them. Big plus that most of the people there I remembered liking or feeling indifferent to.

      After I picked up my dinner from the caterer, I had a flashback to being in the school cafeteria trying to find where my friend was sitting. I was terrified for like 10 seconds that there wouldn't be any space by her. But this fear of school cafeterias comes back fairly often when I go to a conference or other social dinner event with more than 10 people, so I was able to find an slightly good acquaintance to sit with until my friend found me again.

    5. Michelle - your reunion sounds loads more fun than mine was! I would get such a kick out of that!

  5. Skylar’s high school reunion totally beats my class of 2008 high school reunion! Or it would have if my class even had a reunion. Haha. There is a Facebook group, and the furthest anyone got was “maybe we should all meet up in a bar one night”. And then no one actually did it. There is current discussion about how it’s hilarious that no one cared enough to plan one and maybe we should do one over the holidays when people are home (but my parents no longer live there so, i probably won’t make it). My high school is also in the Pacific Northwest where, yes, everyone lives in an evergreen forest and dresses like they are always ready for an impromptu hike.

    1. Facebook is kinda the new reunion. You can 'see' everyone, you can make your life look fabulous, and you don't actually have to put pants on...

  6. I just had my 5 year reunion this year, it cost $5 and like 10 of us went and had a cookout at the park in my hometown... which to be fair was about 20% of my graduating class. My sister's 10 year reunion was this summer, she didn't go because the plan was announced about 4 days before having it... they were just all supposed to go to the beer tent at a local festival at the same time so they could drink together. So with this knowledge of how reunions work I have to say I'm also confused by a $40 charge for such events ...

  7. I did not have a pleasant time (to put it mildly) in middle school and high school, there is no way in hell that I would pay money to see how those people turned out as adults. Uh-uh, no thank you, k thnx bye. I'm happy and I have nothing to prove to people who made me miserable. If they turned out miserable I don't want to gloat, if they turned out amazing I don't care. They are not a part of my life and I don't want to pretend to reminisce about the bad old days.

  8. I had the same feelings and sadness recently when I visited my parents in my hometown. They were about to sell the house I grew up in, and walking through it one last time, I was overwhelmed by how much of my life I had spent there, and how things had changed, and would never be the same. Never again would I sit in that room with my best friend, studying and gossiping, much like Skylar and his friend. Never again would I invite friends over to swim in my backyard pool. Never again would I sit in my parents' room, watching ER with my mom. There would never be another family dinner at that table just the 4 of us (with my little brother). Even if they weren't selling the house, these things would never happen again. We've grown up and moved on with our lives, but God how I miss the mundane little aspects of my past life. It's funny you said it makes you want a baby, because it made me cling to my kids even tighter. I will never be a teenager again, and they will never be this little again, and one day they will be teenagers, and then they will move on with their lives, and our home will just be a reminder of how things used to be.

    And now I'm crying again! Dammit!

    1. Earlier this year our 96 year old family friend "Uncle" Jim was moved into an assisted living center by his sons. Jim and his wife were like surrogate grandparents to me when I was growing up, even though he was the same age as my father. Every Halloween we had to stop in to show our costumes, they came to birthday parties and special occasions, Christmas Day night we went for treats and visiting at their house. When I quit university and moved to Ireland "aunt" Martha knit me a sweater to take with me. They came to my wedding and gave us an eNgraved platter with my ex husband's name spelled wrong (I laughed it off, it infuriated him, I still have it).

      Jim is now widowed, very hard of hearing, and no longer has a drivers license. He needed to be where there were more people to help with the day to day needs. I died a little inside to see him in that facility, even though it is a BEAUTIFUL and amazing place, it isn't HOME for him or any of the residents. I try to visit once a week, but it makes me unbearably sad every time I leave. When he let his sons put the family home up for sale this summer I thought about putting an offer in because I had loved that home so much, but I did't go through with the offer for a lot of reasons.

      I heard it was sold to a young family who fell in love with the sunny open kitchen and breakfast nook, the tongue & groove wooden floors, and the fireplaces. The kids loved the bar counter in the basement den with the top paved in Jim's kids' coin collection.

      The house is in a quiet residential neighborhood and it's not really "on the way" to anything. But about a month ago I found myself going out of my way to drive by. And this sounds crazy but I realized that it was because I wanted to check to see if the house was happy. We talk about things going to "a good home". This was a good home that deserved to go to a good family. I didn't stop, I just drove by. When I pulled in the driveway of my crappy little house in my crappy neighborhood that had been filled with so much unhappiness I sat and cried. I was sad that I'd never see the inside of that house again, that I'd never spend another Christmas night cracking nuts by the fire or playing with windup toys at the bar or help Martha with something in the kitchen. I was happy that it had a family in it again but sad that it wasn't going to be me and whatever future family I might have. I try not to think about it, and I try not to be sad when I do think about it. Because the what-if's and the might-have-been's will drive you crazy. But, what if?

      I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying!

    2. Now you're right, The Suzzzz, I am crying! What made me especially sad when my parents moved was that the person who bought the house is tearing it down. So no other family will get to make happy memories in it. :-(

    3. Lindsay that is really sad. Nostalgia can hurt.

    4. Suzzzz - please move away from a house that makes you sad. No one should live in a place that makes them sad. :(

    5. Life isn't that simple Nicole. The house I live in doesn't actively make me sad, but there are memories...or ghosts of memories. That's life.

  9. Graduated 2006, my class is so lazy that our “10 year” reunion we just waited a year and had our reunion with the class under us. Mainly because half our class is married to the younger class. Also, it was in a parking lot. Not sad I missed it. I remember the day I walked out of my house to head to college I thought “things will never be the same.” It felt weird when I would go home. Like I belonged but I didn’t. It made me really sad. Now my parents moved and it’s even weirder. I spent 18 years there and just like that my home is no longer home.

  10. My 10 year reunion was 3 years ago. All the popular kids put it on, and the plan was to meet at a bar, like many of the aforementioned. I didn't drink in HS, like the popular kids did, and I still don't drink now, like the popular kids still do. Plus, my best friend, with whom I was inseparable in HS (the same one who did the prank call with me, if anyone listened to my podcast), had a falling out the winter before my reunion. Every single memory I have from HS has her in it, and I couldn't justify traveling to California and either A)seeing her there or B)having anyone question where my other half was.

    I have a friend who lives by me now, who went to the high school in our neighborhood. She runs into people from high school all the time and dreads it every time. Living halfway across the country from where I grew up, that never happens to me and I am 100% ok with that! I got rid of my social media so no one knows anything about me or my family, and I prefer to keep it that way. The popular kids can have their beer-reunions, I'm good over here!

  11. My 20 year high school reunion (planned by your truly,) was $65, and it was held at the school, in the gym, with the food catered by the company who did our school lunches (I set up a poll, the people spoke. I just had the school honor their be fair, the cafeteria food was actually pretty good when we were there.) But, still, I thought it was a bit pricey to have it at the school...even if there was a DJ & a photo booth.

  12. I've never been invited to my high school reunions, though I know there have been a few I heard about after the fact. I'm really not hard to find, either. I saw pictures from the last reunion, where maybe 20-ish classmates went out of a class of 400, and it was basically the same group of popular kids who all gushed "it was so great to see everyone!" That pretty much sums up how high school was for me too. By the way, this last one was $40/person, and my husband's last one was the same, so as far as I can tell that's normal.

    I have found that although I haven't been too sad when visiting old childhood locations, I find myself clinging to some objects that are from there. For example, I have a few pieces of furniture from the home I grew up in, a painting that hung at my grandma's house, and even a few old toys hanging around. A few years ago I sat with my young daughter to do a puzzle, one of the same puzzles I kept from growing up, one that vividly reminded me of being home in my old room (I did a lot of puzzles, remember I had no social life). She somehow spilled a full bottle of water all over it, and it was ruined. It was just a puzzle, and I didn't think it really mattered, but I went to another room and cried. I was surprised by my own reaction. That nostalgia can be weird.

  13. Do I win for oldest? Class of '99 👊🏻