A letter to Erica circia 2005, from a stable twenty eight year-old woman...
Today, you've made the decision not to attend your high school Graduation. Actually, you decided not to show up for Senior Year. I know High School hasn't appealed to you and there is a *small* part of you that wishes it had. You wish you'd gotten involved in more socially healthy activities. You wish you'd gotten better grades. You wish you hadn't spent these last four years completely, gut-wrenchingly love sick over an overweight, sweaty, puffy coke-head, who couldn't care any less about you than he already does. (Just saying.) So while you're home today, pretending you have more important things to do than put on a white robe and a cardboard hat, I'm going to give you a glimpse into the future...ten years from now...at your High School Reunion, because it's going to come up quicker than you think; if you subtract showers, meals, sleeping, pretty much all of 2008, your Dad's funeral and your trip to India, your reunion is in like, fifteen minutes. So here are some things you'll need to know...
First of all, you will make the unbelievably laughable and brainless decision to get a spray tan for this thing. It won't look bad on the outside--in fact it'll hardly be noticeable--but because of the 167% humidity, (due to global warming and the severe drought California will be experiencing), your skin will be splotchy and smeared and your sweat will be brown, and there will be A LOT of sweat. Your professionally blow-dried hair will be matted to your face before you even get to the venue and sweat will be running down your a$$ crack...as you're hugging people you haven't seen in ten years. Fun!
The good news is you're going with Hailey, and she'll be spray painted, too! And up until the moment your Uber driver drops you off at the venue, both of you will wonder what the actual hell you're doing there. But you're not fooling anyone; you're both excited and eager to see
everyone most people a few people.
Erica, I must tell you that not much will change when it comes to your body image and how you view yourself physically and socially in the presence of your peers. You will freak out about what to wear, just like you do now. But despite your body image issues and anxiety around finding something other than Yoga pants to wear out in public, you're going to look so, so pretty. Of course, you'll make an emergency, last minute trip to Macy's the morning of and have a panic attack in the dressing room, but you'll find the perfect dress. It'll show just the right amount of cleavage AND it will have pockets! Hailey will do your makeup on the floor of your bedroom; dumping all the contents of your makeup bag onto the carpet, making your face pretty and then getting up and walking away...just like old times.
I don't know if it's because you'll feel nervous or invincible or sexy or what, but you're gonna get drunk. Like, very drunk. And right away. A glass of wine and two vodka martinis will just about do you in. You will do the smart thing and make yourself a plate of food from the buffet, (as it will have been several hours since you last ate) but as luck will have it, you'll set your plate down, having never taken a bite, forget all about it and get another martini instead. You'll learn, once again, that you are not sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty...anymore. You will be hungover for a week. Good luck with all that, E!
Now, due to the invention of Facebook, and your self-made career built entirely on the principles of human connection, authentic engagement and genuine conversation, you'll be under the adorable assumption that your 10 year reunion ought to be the time to ask and be asked intelligent, less cliche "reunion-type" questions. While that is a noble and thoughtful goal, it won't happen. It will be loud. So f*cking loud. You will not be talking to your classmates, you will be screaming at them. So I'm warning you, if you try to have serious and intelligent conversation with people, you will get laryngitis. K?
I want you to know that despite all your worries about not being enough, not having accomplished enough, not having enough to show for the ten years between now and your reunion, you really are enough...and everyone else will be, too. You won't have to answer the question, what do you do? because, much to your surprise, a lot of your classmates will already know and they'll be more than happy to acknowledge it. You wouldn't know what this means now, in 2005, but by 2015, when people say they "follow" you and "like" you, you'll know you've made it.
Erica, you'll guess and assume and analyze the reasons why you would or wouldn't go to your High School Reunion and they'll all be wrong. You'll find that the purpose of reunions are not to compare, re-evaluate or recreate who you were in the past; the purpose is to literally be in the presence of each others future, witnessing the sweet and predictable passage of time and creating new memories. You will all be grown adults and you will all be equals, in the way you didn't think you were ten years ago. No longer will there be a hierarchy, a "popular" crowd; it's not like the movies, and that's a good thing.
You and Hailey will plan to stay only a couple hours, say your goodbyes and return to your house to watch Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. But actually, you'll stay the entire time and even go to an after party...at another bar. And ironically, your reunion will end where high school began; in a boy's car at 2am, grabbing taco bell and, thanks to Hailey, begrudgingly eating it at the worst place on earth...the beach.
All my love,
Your future, more mature, red-headed self
- To catch Part One of this thing, click here!