What do you want to be when you grow up? Can anything be more cliché? Well, readers, I’m grown up now. I must be. An invitation to my high school reunion just arrived…
Leaning back in her chair, Rory stared at the screen on her computer, wondering for the thousandth time why she’d agreed to write Facing Forward, a weekly on-line column for American Faces, the magazine where she was now senior copywriter. Primer was enough to keep her busy. However, to Rory, writing wasn’t “work.” The last three months had been a whirl of words – chaos on one level and nirvana on the other. She loved what she did, loved the way that words were her escape from everything too real, but resented the way that expectations stifled her language and kept her within certain lines of social expectation. Too much one way and she lost readers. Too much the other way and she lost herself. Hence Primer, her own words and own private identity. On that page, she was Paxton, a woman who said everything Rory wouldn’t.
Reunions are always interesting, voyeuristic experiences. Chances to show up and show off, pretending to be the most of whatever with intent to outshine others and make them green with envy…
Isadora had heard of the reunion through her grapevine at the country club and made it a point to call Rory the moment she was away from her friends. “Aurora, this is your mother. I need you to call me when you get this. I have a few things to talk to you about.”
There was nothing cryptic about the voicemail. Rory had received the invitation a few days earlier and knew that the “few things to talk about” call was coming.
Dutifully, she called that evening. Glass of wine in hand, she waited for her mother to answer.
“Your high school reunion is coming up, I hear. Are you going?”
“Well, that’s a relief. Just make sure when you fill out your biography sheet that you make your job sound good and make sure you tell everyone your husband is a full partner. Don’t just say he’s an accountant.”
Swirling the pale pink wine around in the goblet, Rory pondered her answer and wondered how Isadora would react if she said that she wanted to write adultery on the line for Spouse’s Occupation.
“I’ll make sure I make him look good, Mother,” she said instead, bracing to hear once more how she had such a beautiful house and how lucky she was that her husband made enough for her to not have to work at a real job like so many other women out there. A year ago she might have agreed with her. Then again, up until a few months ago, she had never had a man raise a hand to her let alone slap her. It only happened once, she reminded herself, deliberately avoiding thinking about the words he used or the woman she’d recently learned about, then turned her focus back to the present.
High school graduation means that you have to look into your cloudy crystal ball and try to figure out what is best for you for the rest of your life. High school reunions mean that you have to look into your past and try to figure out what makes you sound like you made the right decisions. For me, the choice was easy: I went to Seton Hill College in Greensburg, PA, just as my great-aunt had. I liked, among other things, the fact that it was a predominantly female college. Classrooms where learning was the focus, and not the boy in the seat next to me, appealed to me.