Jun 14, 201305:00 AM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
Reunions: Why Bother in NOLA?
Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans
Courtesy of facebook.com/bfhsfalcons
Back a million years ago (OK, 16), I saw Grosse Pointe Blank with a bunch of high school friends at Movie Pitchers (remember Movie Pitchers?!), and afterward, we all piled into someone’s parents’ Toyota and drove to Denny’s and sat around eating Grand Slam breakfasts and swearing we would never lose touch or get old and we would definitely not ever skip our high school reunions. And yet my high school reunion is Saturday, and I won’t be in attendance.
It’s not because Facebook has rendered these sorts of gatherings obsolete. It’s not because I haven’t lost those last 5 pounds of baby weight. It’s not because I don’t want to see people, and it’s not because I have anything better to do. It’s because I live in New Orleans, which is basically a perpetual high school reunion, for better or for worse.
The only girl I ever argued with in high school now works with me, albeit in a different department, and we ended up staring awkwardly across a conference room at each other last week, each pretending we were strangers and – at least in my case – thanking the heavens that I had shaved my legs and worn a cute dress that day. I wasn’t so lucky the time I ran into a guy I was just awful to in high school one afternoon when we were both at Whole Foods with our kids. That time I was wearing sweatpants and hadn’t brushed my hair and was chasing Ruby down the organic toothpaste aisle yelling at her, and he was with his beautiful wife and well-behaved toddler. He won that round, for sure. I’ve already told the story here of a girl who I was particularly mean to in grade school who ended up as Ruby’s doctor when we were at Children’s Hospital, and I also had a high school rival who ended up being on call in the emergency room when I, 8 weeks pregnant with Georgia, in pajama pants and probably with vomit actually on my shirt, dragged myself to East Jeff for hyperemesis. I have had other interactions with people from high school where I wasn’t frazzled or sick or awkward or disgusting-looking, of course; I have plenty of high school friends that I keep in touch with (including several from that crowded Toyota back in 1997). My daughter attends elementary school with several other kids of Franklin alumni, and I keep in touch, either face-to-face or via email, texts and phone calls, with almost everyone I still want to be in touch with. I have also had numerous encounters, genuinely pleasant encounters, with people I attended high school with but didn’t actually know all that well way back when – I have run into high school people at bars; at the grocery; at restaurants; at kids’ birthday parties; at parades; at crawfish boils; and even, sadly, at more than one funeral. I like these people a lot. I just don’t need to spend $50 to drink with them for one evening of forced chitchat when I could just as easily bump into them on my own terms.
It’s been 15 years since I walked across the stage at the UNO Lakefront Arena in my lurid green cap and gown, and whatever grudges I held at the time have long since been forgotten. All I have now is a lingering sense of pride, in my alma mater (Go Falcons!), my city and my friends. And I don’t need a reunion to remind me to celebrate any of these things. Class of 1998, I hope you have a wonderful night. Maybe I’ll see you all at the 20th reunion. And if not, I’m sure I’ll see you at Whole Foods. Or the ER.