Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Ten Years Hence
So I went to my ten-year college reunion this weekend. It was, by turns, an ecstatic, surreal, and occasionally horrifying and anxiety-inducing experience. I have almost nothing but fond memories of college, few of which are at all academic; I basically went to camp for four years on my parents' dime, drank a lot, made a lot of friends, travelled around the country and the world, and generally had the time of my life. In a lot of ways, I'm glad I'm no longer 20 (aside from some inconveniences -- like electric bills and crows feet -- I like being an adult), but it's always fun to revisit past selves. Most of my closest friends to this day are the ones I made in college, but there are those with whom I have no lasting connection that I was still very excited to see, if only just say, hey, let's not pretend we're going to rekindle anything here tonight but I just want to let you know I'm happy that you are happy and wish you only the best.
That said, I felt very palpably this weekend that I'd changed, both since college (of course) and since our last reunion. In many of those ways, I've changed for the better: I graduated from college completely aimless, ambitionless, and generally in poor hygiene. Today I've got a career I can be proud of and nothing but goals and aspirations and hopes for the future. Also, I now wear deoderant. I look back on that little hippie kid in thrift store clothes, hemp necklaces, and facial piercings and almost don't recognize her. And even the mixed-up version of myself I was at our five-year reunion (still at the beginning stages of my first grown up job, separated from my boyfriend (who, about a month later, would come crawling back; now he's my husband), overweight, still smoking cigarettes, and generally poorly dressed) seems like a character in a movie I once saw. I have changed; I've grown up, things are moving forward, I'm learning everyday to be a better version of myself.
But let's be frank. I'm different in a very physical way, too. When old friends casually asked, "So, what's new?" I'm certain they didn't expect me to point to my tits.
And here's the thing. It may have been the memories. It may have been the excitement. It may have been (probably was) the wine. But I was proud to tell people about what I've been through, if only to be able to say, look, I'm whole and happy and if I hadn't told you about any of this you wouldn't have ever suspected it but yeah I've been through some shit in the past few years since we've seen each other last thanks for asking. I don't like this tendency I have to over-imbibe and then spill my secret (I've done it more than once); and I don't think everyone on earth needs to know (like, I really love my hair dresser, but do I tell him? why would he care?) but rather than beat myself up for oversharing, I'd like to think that the ease with which I'm able to tell people about my surgery indicates a deep comfort and acceptance of my decision that I've fought long and hard for. At ten years, most people share news about jobs and spouses and kids; the news I had to share was a little different, but no less important. People are proud of their kids. I'm proud of my girls.
One other thing: I gave (and received) more hugs in two days than I probably have experienced in a whole year. And here's the exciting part: I FELT every single one of them. I'm no longer numb! I have feeling back already! In so may ways this weekend -- that I was there to experience it, that I came through surgery physically and emotionally intact, that I could feel my old friends as they pressed against me -- I remembered how lucky I am to be who I am, despite the mutation, despite the unfortunate sartorial choices I've made, despite the mistakes that I wish I could undo. I may get a little loose-lipped around the vino blanco, but I've got a story (let's not call it a secret, k?) and I want to tell it.