(I am smiling because I couldn't be more happy to be leaving high school behind me.)
It has been 25 years since I was forced to spend six hours a day inside a concrete-walled, four stories-plus-basement fortress with classroom windows that didn't open at Ninth and Broom streets in Wilmington, Delaware, called Padua Academy -- an all-girls Catholic school.
I called it hell. (I mean no disrespect to the school. It is a fine establishment, and I remember my teachers fondly. My classmates, however, were the spawn of Satan. Anyone who thinks an all-girl environment is nurturing either has a penis or plays softball -- very well. And one or two might wear a nun's habit.)
Seriously -- it was climbing those endless marble steps from the basement to the fourth floor for first period that I formed my idea of purgatory: Carrying 8 pounds of textbooks from one place I didn't want to be, with girls I didn't want to be with, to another place I didn't want to be, and arriving out of breath. To learn French. Knowing I'd have to do it all again tomorrow. It doesn't take much imagination. Il ne prend pas beaucoup d'imagination.
Girls are not kind. They are sharks (though I hesitate to sully that animal's reputation with the comparison. Sharks seek prey that is bleeding; high school girls seek prey they can make bleed).
Fast forward on that little cassette player of life and we come to January's alumnae newsletter, which I flip open to the class notes. And there it is: a classmate I barely recall is organizing a reunion.
Given the antipathy already expressed, why, you might ask, would that item merit even a second thought?
It's like this, cat.
High school is that old lover who f%$#*d you over, but who you have never been able to forget all these years. He knew you back before you even knew yourself. Heck, it was his hazing that helped you become the strong woman you are today. Surely, he's matured with age and life experience -- he can't possibly be as cruel as he was then? And man, when he sees who you are now -- well, that'll show him! I mean come on, you know you want to see him. I bet he's lost his hair! He might have gotten fat! And I'm sure he's unhappy. And then you can close the book on the whole thing and get back to your wonderful life with an empathetic sigh that you don't know how you couldn't have seen it, but he wasn't all that. You would've kicked him out of bed for eating crackers.
Anyway, I called upon everyone's favorite stalking tool, Facebook, to see what I was up against.
My first thought? Damn, these women look old. And how did my best friend from high school (who I no longer talk to) have four kids?
There's my homeroom homie D., who was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning one weekend -- apparently she's got a kid now. There's S., who tried to OD junior year -- on aspirin. And there's K., who got pregnant senior year (weren't you kicked out for that?). There you are, J., whose speech I wrote. A., you were a softball star. And now you're married?
I can't decide: Will this reunion rekindle an old, dysfunctional relationship? Or will it constitute healthy closure for four years of my life that still leave a bad taste in my mouth?