Perpetual Reunion

I remember her reclining in the LaZBoy, her eyes shut as if the dull light from the family room lamp was a blinding force, causing her head to ache as it had never ached before. She was suffering the side effects of one of those diet pills that flushes your body of all the water and presto, change-o, look how trim you can be! All in a matter of days! Pay no attention to that migraine behind the curtain... She was on her way to her high school reunion that weekend. I felt sad for her, and ashamed, and full of empathy. We both had attended the same all-girls high school. I knew the social coup that it was then as a student and could imagine what it would be like twenty five years removed. Anyone who tells you that women don't dress for other women is dead. Wrong.

When I think about that whole reunion prep, it all seems like a bad cliche, like a corny skit with Dave Coulier. If only reunions were every five years, or maybe even ten years now, the anxiety might seem a bit more curtailed. But now the reunion is ongoing, the sizing up and self-examination-condemnation is non-stop. We are all, most every one of us, a part of social networking sites, which would be better called social fretworking sits. They put the mass in massochism. They connect us to the former circles that orbited around our lockers and lunch tables; now the community is virtual but no less circumspect. It reminds us that gravity is still turned on and that it is still possible to fall -- our backpacks no longer full of tampons and protractors, but of pink slips and photos of us looking red-faced and sweaty at karaoke --and to feel the scourge of callous onlookers who pretend to be our friends when it is convenient.

It's not all bad, the perpetual reunion. I've connected with a fair number of friends whose ready connection I value, whose pictures of their backyard barbecues and children in bumble bee costumes warm my heart and make the distance between us seem not so untenable. But I cannot help but log on sometimes and feel skinned. I sometimes vet my own profile for something of worth, for a shred of something in there that might seem enviable, but which I know is not enough to impress because it's MY life and why would I want to trade it for someone else's? I also find myself growing irritated as I scan others' images, their status updates. How hopelessly transparent we all can be behind our titles and degrees and photoshopped jpegs. Show me you, kicked back, face wincing in pain on your LaZBoy. I'll show you mine.