This past weekend my undergrad college held its annual reunion weekend. I was part of a large, boisterous group of friends that spanned several classes. So even though it was not a reunion weekend for my particular class, many of my friends have just decided to make it an annual tradition to gather at the college this weekend.
I attended a very small womens college (small college, not women) that has since gone co-ed, as nearly every womens college has over the past thirty years. (is it women's or womens? probably best to say a college for women?).
As a backstory, I have lots of friends from all the different places I've lived, gone to school, worked, etc. As fits my Which Box persona, the groups are fairly separate, with my closests friends crossing several of the boxes. But many close friends staying put in their one category. Heck, I organize my section of the Christmas card list by category - it helps me find people when I need to change an address to know, in chronological order, my friends are listed by hometown, undergrad, grad school, long past job, long-time job, recent job, and current city friends (and then including my dad's family and my mom's family).
Over the years, I've lessened my involvement with my undergrad friends. It's a variety of reasons, really, that mostly have to do with our respective growths as individuals. Or not. One of the things about a very tight group of friends is the group-think that ocurrs. We were at this small, isolated college for women, with little to do, and a certain code of behavior emerged. Several of the more rebellious in the group, including me, took to calling us "the collective." It could be almost suffocating, that intensity of group think. You'd think a college for women would create a group of strong, confident, assertive women. And in some ways it did. But mostly, it did not. My friends are an odd mix of passive aggressive personalities, with a layer of martydom thrown in for good measure. Two of the women have children on the austism spectrum, and both are strong advocates for their children, and one has established an autism awareness non-profit. But, we had bad - abyssally bad - service at the restaurant we chose for our group dinner, and both these women didn't want to make a fuss or in any way insist that we be treated better. It makes me crazy. I'm the assertive one in the bunch, so even though I had nothing to do with planning the dinner, guess who dealt with the restaurant's management? (unsatisfactorily, but that's a completely separate story about jerk management).
Anyway, the point of all this was to say that it had been a while since I'd be involved much in the group. But it was nice to see everyone, to hang out with husbands I'd known as boyfriends back in the day, to see the kids. I've especially been laying low these past few years, with the pregnancies and job issues. So of the 9 women there, as we were catching up, 3 of them asked what I was doing now? And all three followed with, I hope you're staying home with that precious baby. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH. We are graduates of this college for women. We were there in the 80s. The time of women having it all - job, husband, kids, the whole thing was suppose to be within our grasp. I've been probably the most career driven of all of them, and they tell me they hope I'm home with my baby????
Somehow, for now, I've achieved the holy grail of parenthood (according to a study a few years ago by Pew, reported here for example). It was arduous to get here, believe me, but now I have meaningful, reasonably well compensated part-time work. I'm proud of it. And I'm glad it's part-time. I'm happy for my friends who get to do what they want, whether it be full-time work, part-time work, or being a stay at home mom or any of the variables inbetween. But I don't project my preferences onto anyone else.
So I left the reunion loving my friends, but as expasperated by them as ever. I've gone from a central figure in the collective to being a peripheral member, which is probably just fine. A weekend day and evening was probably the perfect amount of time to spend. Do you go to reunions? High school, college, other? Do you enjoy them?
4 days ago