That meteor we've graciously agreed to call "reunion" is still hurtling toward Earth. There is nothing we can do to stop it. All we can do--what we must do--is brace ourselves. For once it hits, we will never be the same. For one weekend, there will be jokes. There will be merriment. There will be Dee-Lite. There will be longing, under-the-tent glances at a life you could have had. There will be opposite such feelings of relief for the life you don't. . . .
That feeling, of course, is half the tension of the entire weekend: reconciling once having been 21 with no longer actually being 21; balancing wanting to do what you did in 1997 with how doing that now will make you feel the following morning. You won't want your children, your partner, your spouse, whoever you brought along, to know that you had a past life and that in that past life the only clothes you sometimes wore to retrieve your mail was an acoustic guitar. Maybe the tension will give way. You might be found passed out somewhere. Maybe you'll find something better than Black Light magic and wind up just sitting on a bench talking until the next day with the only person you came all this way to see.
Some of you are probably thinking about skipping the whole thing. You'll say, Meteor, please. It's all so stupid, so long, so gloaty, judgy, and drunk. You fear staring into the congregation and noticing suddenly you're in one of those jolly ING ads that plays during Wimbledon and most golf tournaments, the one in which people carry around big orange numbers that are supposed to represent how much they've saved for their retirement. You will look above your head and see that your number barely gets you to the airport. . . .
You will tell someone of your fear of being made to feel inadequate, like you've accomplished even less that you had five years before. You will tell someone this, and they will tell you that's precisely why you should go, and that you're acting like someone from books that will become Katherine Heigl movies. A reunion, they say, is where, after four beers or finding one real friend, your inadequacies won't matter. They'll say that the funny thing about these weekends is how much they can also be a ritualized vacation from who you are and a chance to revisit, however momentarily, who you were. They will say: somehow it will be fun. And they will be right.
And I'm trusting to that, because God knows even I can't drink enough to recoup the fucking fortune this event is going to cost (an amount that I swear goes up at least $100/person every time). It's like the organizers think we're some kind of fancy Ivy Leaguers, or something.