Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Looking back

Last night my husband arrived home from work with my birthday treat, something I look forward to all year long:

My annual treat

Don't laugh. It's very tasty. It's a long-standing tradition in my family that I get a Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake on my birthday. It stems from one year when my mother forgot to make me a birthday cake and all we had on hand was a frozen Pepperidge Farm one in the freezer so that's what I got. DH came home very late last night so I'll work on devouring my cake today (no one else in the house loves cake like I do). I give myself a day to scarf it down because my digestive system doesn't tolerate wheat and sugar the way it used to. I'll be paying for this debauchery tomorrow.

With birthdays I guess it's "traditional" to look back. I didn't do much of that yesterday, but it has been one of those years where my past has knocked on my door and invited itself in for a visit. In most cases this isn't such a bad thing, but it's not comfortable for me. I'm not one who spends a lot of time looking over my shoulder. No, I'm the one in my family who's always eagerly anticipating what's around the corner and urging others to stop living in the past. Maybe because the future hasn't been as shiny and bright for me as it has been in other years (sorry if that sounds mysterious and morose; life isn't that horrible!) that I'm lulled into thinking it's not so bad to trip down memory lane.

A few months ago I learned that my 30th high school reunion would be held in November, just a couple weeks from now. I've never been to one, nor have I had any desire to attend. High school wasn't  a happy time for me. While I wasn't unpopular, I, like of lot of kids, never felt like I fit in. There was a definite clique element in our school that I had no part of and it was pretty clear early on I'd never be part of. Fresh off my parents' bitter divorce, I struggled through those four years and went through great lengths to hide my misery, which, in retrospect, I failed miserably at hiding. Throughout high school I was always looking forward, planning my escape into college and adulthood. However, in the last year I've reconnected with several of my high school friends (thanks Facebook!) and it has been -- well -- nice! To my great pleasure, I found out that my instincts picking out friends in high school were pretty good. They all grew into kind and interesting adults, with productive and interesting lives, people I'd associate with today and not just because I sat next to them in 10th grade English or that we liked The Cars.

And funnily enough, none of them are attending the reunion either. Hmm.

My 25th college reunion is also coming up, and this I may attend. Visiting my alma mater is always a pleasure; my years at Smith were some of my happiest, and I love walking around the campus, letting the nostalgia wash over me while alternately marveling at all the changes -- houses gone, new buildings up, feeling so youthful inside but looking around and realizing I'm the oldest person sitting in the cafe who's knitting. (Northampton, and Smith in particular, is filled with knitters and not just because WEBS is down the street!) It's a strange feeling, but one that doesn't bother me.

This year I've had a couple ex-boyfriends look me up; not surprising as we're all approaching/have passed the half-century mark and I suppose it's natural to want to take a last look at what you passed up before it shrivels into raisinhood. These exchanges haven't been unpleasant either. A few years ago I would have ignored them. Now it just feels silly to hold grudges or wonder "what if." What's done is done ... move on.

But I'm still not going to my high school reunion.


  1. MMmmmmm. I actually support you on this one. That cake is very tasty. I love just about anything with coconut. I went to one high school reunion and will never go to another. What a bore it was for my husband. It was interesting how even though a lot changed in our lives little seemed to change. I still did not much care for the ones I did not care for back then. The only people I am interested to hear from again I already keep in touch with regularly. Enjoy your cake!!

  2. Jan, when we were meeting with our caterer to plan our wedding, I actually asked her to make a cake that tasted like PF Coconut Cake. She wasn't offended at all and admitted she liked them, too. (The cake she made was delicious. Not a PF, but delicious.)

    Too funny that you brought your husband. I would have to drag mine to something like that.


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