If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Facing down the afforementioned elusive demons

Just last week I mentioned the demons I've been fighting for years. If you didn't read it, I'll just say that perfection, shyness, and peer pressure mix into something that takes years to work past.

I faced some of those demons down Saturday night. I went to my class reunion. The turn-out was better than I expected, and Eric was kind enough to go with me to hold my hand and shove me into knots of people when I started to fade into the background. I think it was eye-opening for him, too, to see me in that environment.

We got there early enough to claim seats for dinner at an unoccupied table. We marked our spots with our jackets and drinks and set off again to chat. Dinner was served buffet style and when we got back to the table with our plates the other seats had been claimed. As it turned out, part of the former party crowd had converged around us. These folks have kept in touch sporadically through the years, mostly through two guys. They all live within fifty miles of our home town. For some reason, I was amazed at how many people still live in the area. I know, intellectually, that not everyone had moved away, even though I never see anyone I know when I'm home. I don't run into people in the grocery store, I never see them running errands or eating ice cream with their kids in Blondie's. Odd.

Our dinner companions had started the reunion early in the beer tent of the annual festival the night before and were talking about running into some other former classmates who had, well, imbibed overmuch. This led to a discussion about a party one of the couples threw not long ago, where they found out some of their neighbors are swingers. (One of the husbands got drunk and went around asking couples if they wanted to swap.) At one point, one of the wives who did not go to our school asked if the others had been partyers in high school, to which one of my classmates said, "Who wasn't a partyer in high school?" I immmediately raised my hand. Nope, I wasn't a partyer, but I was in the band. I swear, it's the first time Jeff saw me sitting there! On the plus side, I discovered that I still have a great smile, even after 21 years. Brushing and flossing, folks!

It was an interesting experience. It was cathartic, in that I realized that the popular kids are always going to be popular because they make it happen. I don't know if it's genetic or environmental or if I just developed the "bullet-proof" later (or never). Fear is an insidious thing; it creeps in when you don't see it. It masquerades as other things and it's not until you give yourself permission to be afraid with letting it stop you that you see it for what it is. Strange that it took me to almost 40 to figure that out. Stranger yet that some people never figure it out, so maybe I'm ahead of the game for a change. I still have half of my life (give or take) left in front of me.



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