Last week as part of our regularly scheduled review of the glorious cinematic treasures the Sky NOW box has to offer, my boyfriend and I watched American Reunion. If you haven’t yet had the privilege of taking in this grand achievement of modern cinema, this installment in the franchise—preceded by American Pie (1999), American Pie 2 (2001), American Wedding (2003), and I Guess These Guys Will Never Get Another Job—revisits the original cast thirteen years after graduating from high school. We join three nice Jewish boys who are sort of all the same, a handsome lacrosse player whose photo I may or may not have kept in my locker in 8th grade, and their jailbait-chasing friend whose undisclosed head trauma has evidently rendered him incapable of using phrases that don’t end in “fuck” or “pussy”.
Together Flabby, Beardy, Sulky, Sporty, and Jock share in each others’ grief over the death of their golden age of bro-hood. With plaintive stares, they watch nubile young ladies prance upon the shores of their neighbo[u]rhood lakeside retreat. It was here that many a fervent fantasy was made real between the warm, sticky sheets of summers gone. They march along to the reunion to a bittersweet dirge, choking on failure and regret.
When I went back to Bethesda two weeks ago, I heard about my own high school reunion which is set to take place next week. Even though I knew I couldn’t attend, I felt a surge of fear, sadness, anger, and regret. I thought about how miserable I was back then, how I struggled with the humiliating side effects of meds, and how badly I wanted to fit in with everyone else. In fact, the first draft of this post was a big laundry list of complaints about things that happened ten years ago. And although it was very long, something changed after I wrote it that made it possible for me to delete the whole thing.
As I read through my grand list of what went wrong in high school, I began to feel further and further away from it. I stopped identifying with young Michelle’s anger and started to view it from a distance and with a strong sense of compassion. Yes, it’s a shame that I had such a hard time, but I’m better now. I live in a great city with my wonderful boyfriend. I have an amazing job and lots of friends. It’s understandable that I left high school feeling like I had something to prove, but I know now that I don’t need anyone’s approval. I’m living now, today, for me.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from Blobby and his mates it’s that life doesn’t end after high school, it’s only the beginning. In fact, your life will have lots of beginnings and ends, but the beauty of it is that you can make a lot of those decisions yourself, and if you can’t, you can at least choose how you respond.
…and it definitely doesn’t hurt to live well. Just sayin!