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Trapped in a Land Called Nostalgia

Last weekend was my high school reunion.

A little personal history… I was not what most people would consider a loser or a geek or whatever in high school. I was a bit of an oddball, for sure. There were plenty of people who didn’t know what to do with me, whether because I had a mopful of long hair or because we had no history before high school (I’d gone to the Lutheran school through 8th grade, and only two of us Lutherans went to my high school) or because I’m actually a bit shy around new people, something friends quickly forget once I’m more my natural goofy self around them for a while.

But during four years of high school, I never once got my ass kicked, I don’t remember having my ass get a threatened kick, and I even had friends outside of my immediate clique of theater fags and art geeks. I wouldn’t say I was popular, but I was generally accepted by the school’s gen-pop.

I also couldn’t wait to get out of there, and nothing in the world could have moved me to go to my ten-year reunion. Not enough time had passed.

This time, Facebook made a reunion seem palatable. I’d reconnected with a few people, and it was sort of nice. So when the time came, I signed up.

It was a great visit back to Topeka. The reunion itself… undecided. I’m not sure if it’s just regression, but it’s a little disconcerting how little people change. I don’t know that I’m an exception, even. But there we all were, back in our old roles, the same divide among all of the various cliques. I found myself thinking that, overall, my classmates weren’t terribly pleasant people. That I judged them so harshly also only confirmed that I was a fucking snob, and probably was in high school.

There were a few people it was great having short catch-up sessions with, who seemed as genuine or kind or cool or whatever as they were in high school. The great people don’t change either, thankfully. There were some people who were doing interesting things with their lives and seemed pretty pleased about it all. There were also people who seemed pretty miserable or angry or otherwise discontented. There were also some key no-shows from my immediate circle of friends.

To my high school friends who attended (and who may or may not read B&E), it was genuinely terrific hanging out with you and being generally awkward with you all. You all confirm that, yes, I had good taste in people in high school.

After a long weekend of regression, of course, getting back into the swing of the Here & Now isn’t the easiest thing to do. So going to see Our Town at the Barrow Street Theater turned out to be a Very Good Thing To Do. The play’s themes really hit home after a visit to one’s past, not to mention a trip to one’s father’s grave.

Also (remember, dear readers, that B&E is always about me), I’d played George in high school and attended the production with the woman who played Emily opposite me (and who hadn’t been able to go to the reunion). So sitting back home in New York, seeing this stunning new production of a classic play that also brought back fond memories from my past, while reminding us all to strive to be saints and poets, who sometimes actually see the world around them… Let’s just say it resonated.

I can’t recommend the production highly enough. If you’re in New York and spend money on theater, this will be one of the best investments you’ve made in theater for years. Michael McKean, as the Stage Manager, is a goddamned revelation. Hell, the whole thing reminded me why theater can be so great. Just stunning.

3 comments on “Trapped in a Land Called Nostalgia

  1. Laura on said:

    Thank you, Dan, for putting into words exactly how it felt being at that reunion for me too. It was awesome to see you and our group of people again. I’m undecided about future general reunions. I am inspired to write more and expand my life to doing more creative things to bring joy into my life.

  2. Carrie on said:

    Also, it closes September 12. So no more dilly-dallying.

  3. Where’s the like button? I don’t want to have to type out a whole comment.

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