Monday, July 21, 2008

In Which I'm Never Going Back to My Old School

I'm writing this from my summer "dacha" in what I call my "ancestral village." That would be a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. Across the street from my little brother and around the corner from my mom's house (the house where I grew up, more or less). 

Through a series of events, some good and some not so good, my dad (we call him "LR") is living in this house. The good part, for me, is that I have a live-in property manager and bartender. The bad news, for him, is that he's trying to sell his condo in this very difficult seller's market. 

The girls and I arrived at the beginning of July, just in time for my 30th high school reunion. That event was overflowing with potential blog material. But since many of the characters providing the material are still alive and might, possibly, read the blog, I don't feel comfortable letting fly as I normally do. Some sort of self-censoring device has kicked in. 

But some highlights I think I can share:

1. I ran into Original High School Crush in the local drug store the day before the reunion. Actually, he might have even been Junior High School Crush . . . it's all sort of murky now, my memory. But, oh, he was so cute in the early 1970s, in a sort of David Cassidy way. I had seen pictures of him on his website, so I recognized him when he walked past me at the end of the aisle where they sell the anti-wrinkle creams (I had been in this aisle, not him). I did a double take. Then he did a double take. I said his name. He looked suspicious until I said my name. And we stood there and chatted for what was actually much too long. I mean, the siren call of the Anti-Wrinkle Cream Aisle was actually stronger than the urge to stand near O or JHSC. Call me cruel, but it was actually so reassuring. I tried to explain this to Eldest Daughter: how, the next eight to ten years will be filled with what will surely feel like life-ending heartbreak. But that 30 years later, when you run into the object of your teenage affection, he will be just a nice, if slightly spacey guy with a satisfying and meaningful career as a musician, and you'll wish him and his wife all the best in the world. And mean it sincerely. It was very liberating, but weird to think how what seemed so important at the time, faded to virtually nothing in retrospect.

2. At the actual reunion, I was struck by how good we all looked as a group. However, a few weeks later when I looked at the photos fellow classmates posted of the event, all I could think was "Who are all these old people?"

3. That said, many classmates have not changed at all. Including a guy who I'll call BG. I honestly cannot, for the life of me, figure out how I ended up necking with BG in high school, but I think it may have even happened on more than one occasion. He did have lots of great curly, dark hair then. It's much shorter now, but he still has hair, for what that's worth. What he never had was what I would call a great intellect. Good-natured persistence? You bet. A Phi Beta Kappa key? Um . . . don't think so. So, imagine my reaction when, fall quarter freshman year, I walked out of Ellis Hall on the Ohio University campus and found him sitting on a bench in front of the building. I don't think he knew I was even going to OU. I certainly didn't know he was. And while he seemed thrilled to see me, in a "Hey, bay-bee!" sort of way, my heart sank. I was sure he flunked out shortly after, as I never saw him again, although I lived in Athens for eight more years. At the reunion, he was the same as I remembered him in 1978: he leered at me and said something about "hooking up later" if I wanted. He had been a fabulous tennis player in high school, I suddenly remembered. "I'll give you tennis lessons this summer," he purred. "Private lessons . . . " Yeah, yeah. I took his card, and asked how long he had lasted in Athens. Oddly, he told me that he was there for FIVE years. Huh. Go figure.

4. A couple of Nice Jewish Boys from my class literally bounced over to me and announced "We're gay, you know!" I hadn't thought about it in 1978, but it sure made sense looking back. My gay-dar wasn't so finely tuned then. One of them confessed to having had a crush on me in high school. Awwww. I had no idea. And one of them, I am fairly sure, was responsible for spilling lye on my leg in Chemistry class. It didn't hurt or cause any damage: I just couldn't figure out why this liquid wasn't evaporating, so I ended up standing in a bucket of water and baking soda. But no harm done, and no ill will. At least I told the NJB it was him. It might have been a different, third NJB. Who, now that I think about it, might have also been gay.

The day after the reunion, the girls and I got in the car and drove to Detroit where we met The Spouse. We spent the next week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my brothers' families (in the same house we rented last year), and the following week visiting his family. While any extended visits with family (and by "extended," I mean any visits lasting more than three days) hold the potential for disaster, neither week provided me with anything snarky to write about. Really.

So now, alas, The Spouse is back in Moscow. While I'm very happy to be here, it does feel odd to have him be so far away and for so long. I don't want the summer to go by quickly. But yet I do.


Sa said...

ah, the part about the gay jewish men "bouncing over" made me giggle at the computer. everything in america REALLY IS GIANT.
big stores, big streets, HUGE cars...
but oh, i bet you are having better weather than we are in south carolina! i might die of the heat. seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I missed your stories! Thank you for them and enjoy your stay back home.

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