Some people's narratives are thoughtful, others are merely informative, and still others are hilarious and self-deprecating. However, to a snarky non-classmate like myself, the most fun are the writers who conform to every stereotype I've ever had about people of their age and class (which is to say, basically, my own age and class):
- "Although I still work in corporate litigation, my real passion is for Iyengar yoga."
- "After living in eight countries since graduation, I've finally put down roots in Vienna, the most beautiful city in the world."
- "I recently stepped out of the rat race, took a 50% pay cut, and moved to Albuquerque. What I lost in prestige I gained in sanity. Try it, you might like it!"
- "Even though I'm now 'just a homemaker,' I sit on the board of both our children's schools, I'm involved in fundraising for the civic opera and the art museum, and I mentor young women thinking about careers in journalism."
- "How to pick out the high points of the past five eventful years? Summitting Kilimanjaro was definitely a memorable moment, as was being profiled in the Wall Street Journal."
- "We recently relocated back to the States, and now live in D.C.--well, the 'burbs, a decision prompted by a great French immersion program and our desire for our girls to remain bilingual."
- "Believe it or not, I've really gotten to have it all."
I realize that reunions cause some people great anxiety, and that much of this boasting or defensiveness can be ascribed to preemptive worries about being judged, personal fears about not having lived up to their potential, or maybe just a radical miscalculation about the tone or genre of the alumni update. (Unsurprisingly, the classmates who have achieved actual fame tended not to write in at all.)
Still, it's rather fascinating to see 1,000 people of the same age and educational background wrestling, collectively, with early middle age and what they have or haven't yet achieved in their lives. Only a few people mention setbacks or disappointments (divorces, lost jobs, stints in rehab) and even those narratives all have happy endings. Many people refer to their "blessings" or "good fortune," and a fair number announce how happy they are and how much they love their lives. I assume that most of that happiness is genuine, but it does often seem to be tinged with nostalgia or the fear that this--however good this is--may be it.
It's both touching and insufferable. I can't wait to meet them.