It’s no secret that you miss things while abroad. Not miss like emotionally miss (which you totally do as well), but miss like physically miss. No family reunions for this little expat. Cousins graduate from college, families celebrate birthdays, friends have weddings you can’t attend and have children you’ve never met. My little nephew is growing up before my eyes; my grandparents are getting older, and as long as I continue to live on this side of the world, there’s nothing I can do about that.
We all experience it, and when it gets bad enough and circumstances permit we go home for a visit.
I went to two high schools, and this past weekend was my 10-year reunion for the first one I attended (the one I didn’t graduate from). I watched a lot of TV growing up, so I’ve always had this fantasy about attending my 10-year high school reunion. The first high school is the experience I held on to. It was the one I attended in 9-10 grade, and it was the one where I felt like I blossomed and found my place. It is the one with friends that I hold dear to my heart, in the way you only can with people you loved deeply before you “grew up.” Although I didn’t graduate from there, that was the reunion I wanted to attend, because it was the one for the high school that I felt in my heart was “my” high school.
I signed up for emails and searched airplane prices. Back in February, I was seriously considering coming home in June anyway–contingent on whether things worked out for me here (worked out with the boyfriend, worked out with the school, worked out with the money….oh, and worked out with the boyfriend).
Things are working out, and I don’t get vacation time until August (and only a week at that since I’m at Hagwon)–so that’s that; no reunion for me. It killed me to watch them plan the reunion (via frequent facebook posts about venue, food, pricing, etc.).It killed me to get the emails, and to see my “friends” from high school posting updates about being excited as the event drew nearer.
And then finally the day came, and it killed me to not be there. I’m not gonna lie; I straight-up creeped it on facebook. I read all the posts, looked at every photo, and watched every video. I wanted to know what it was like, if I couldn’t be there myself.
And then it was over, and something happened. Something clicked.
This isn’t my high school.
I saw maybe one friend from my high school “notebook club” (that’s what we called ourselves, we passed a notebook around between four or five of us filled with all our stories of making out and hating teachers, boys stole it periodically, it was dramatic and fun). I saw maybe one friend from my “orchestra clique” (the girls of the notebook club + the boys from orchestra). P.S. it was the same friend. P.P.S. she and I fell out years ago.
It just hit me. No one noticed I wasn’t there. No one missed me.
Not in a self-pitying way, of course. That’s not to be all “no one loves me.” Just saying that I finally realized that I’ve been holding on to this high school experience that ended for me twelve years ago. I’ve been considering it my “real” high school experience. My “real” place. The “real” memories of what my high school days should have been. Could have been.
But they didn’t hold on to me because it’s not my place. It’s just not my place.
As far as high schools go, maybe I don’t have a place.
In a way, I’m happier to have been abroad and seen it go on without me than I would have been to make all of the effort to cross state lines only to attend a reunion that would have been just fine without me.