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Thanks for the memories…not. March 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 9:15 AM
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My high school reunion is scheduled for this coming summer, and I get the occasional nudge from an old school mate about marking the date on my calendar. I haven’t done it yet. Not even in pencil.

I don’t want to relive high school nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, in the last few years I’ve had the odd girl’s night out with the old cougars and laughed till I almost cried. Although we may have the odd extra pound or wrinkle here or there, otherwise it was the same. The night was filled with giddy, silly, non-stop laughter. Just like old times, but with better food and conversation with a lot more honesty and openness. Amazing.

I also take great pleasure in grabbing a tea or a meal and sitting in deep conversation with someone who I’ve known since the Boy George days. There’s a certain intimacy you share with someone who saw you zip your skin-tight jeans up with a hanger, or held your head as you spewed. Reconnecting with someone who saw you at your worst, or knew your deepest, darkest teenage secrets is a gift. Also amazing.

The one reconnection I’ve been the most thrilled with is my old school chums (some of whom I haven’t seen in 30 years!) that have become loyal blog followers. How incredible is that? People who have no vested interest, share comments or emails, or even just keep popping online to read my blog and cheer me on. That is so motivating, and I am ever grateful for their willingness to encourage someone who they once knew long ago. Inspiring!

But that brings me back to wanting to attend the high school reunion. Blah, not so much.

Here’s the thing – there were bad moments and bad people in high school, and I don’t want to be faced with those mugs just because 25 years has lapsed by.

I’m not bitter. I’m not damaged (okay, well therapy has probably helped with that one), and I don’t want to play the victim here. I’m not even saying high school was a horrible place. I had it pretty good, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have my share of bad things happen that just got swept under the carpet.

For instance, when I was ten, I sprouted breasts. Although in time, they’ve proven to be a valuable source of nutrition, and a great marketing tool in the dating world, nobody wants boobs in grade four. But you deal with what you get, and I got boobs. No big deal, right?

Except, someone made it a big deal. One of the senior boys at my grade school took the time to call all his buddies around to circle me at the water fountain and comment that I had “bigger tits than the (grade) sixers.” Needless to say, it was a moment that stuck with me. I’d like to say that it was no big deal, that boys will be boys, and sticks and stones, and all that crap. But it did stick with me. At that moment I became acutely aware of my body, and it took me a long time to appreciate, instead of loathe, what I was born with.

Do I hold onto that? No, I’ll admit I quite like my “shops up top” now, and have no problem if males would like to admire me around a fountain. But the point is…do I really want to spend an evening in the same company as the person who did that to me so long ago? Do I want to introduce him to my husband and shake hands and smile like everything is all good? Hell, no.

I won’t even get into the cruelty that girls can exert on other girls, or about the chunk of self-worth that goes in the toilet when you make those crucial “I thought it was love” mistakes during those years.

I get it, we were all young. And there is forgiveness, after all. I can do that, but it doesn’t mean I want to spend time around people who made me feel bad about myself. I don’t need to prove anything, and I don’t want to waste my time on a social evening with people that don’t matter to me. But when you tell people that, you come off like an angry troll.

So the decision has been made, it’s a offical NO. Though, I am stuck with the dilemma of what to say when asked why I’m not going, without sounding bitter, damaged, unforgiving or emotionally unstable. Because I’m not any of those things, I just don’t want to be back in the hellish time capsule of Courtice Secondary School, 1986.

Any suggestions, dear readers? Give me your best comeback line…


35 Responses to “Thanks for the memories…not.”

  1. Diane Bickle Lehman Says:

    Noelle – I think your decision is the right one. I did not attend my high school reunion when it rolled around. The fact that I have seen some of these “characters” over the years in the local superstore, mall or restaurant was enough to sustain my curiousity about what ever happened to “so and so”. You can never go back – and if you do – you only set yourself up for disappointment, bad memories and what if’s. Moving forward is the only way – the only healthy way. I live in the here and now. It’s not to discount my past – but for me and many women – that was our training ground. Now I live in real life with real people. People not put in classrooms without my choice – but people I chose to be with, interact with and love. Stick to your decision – don’t let anyone sway it. I don’t need to tell you that!! After all – we are cut from the same cloth (BW). Bickle Women. Love you D

    • The Bickle cloth is strong and colourful, even if it has a few worn spots…lol. I think you make a good point, it’s about choices, and the beauty of being this age is that you get to do what is best for your own well being. Thanks for the encouragement D!

  2. Heather Says:

    you could say….. “With new technological advantages in social networking tools, I am able to connect with people from my past; I get to choose who, when and why. Most people I would want to invest my time and energy in reconnecting with, I have already done so. A high school reunion is unnecessary in this time and age, when everyday is a reunion on facebook, blogs and instant messaging. I would have poked you by now if I wanted to know how many kids you have, or emailed you my PIN if I wanted to chit chat.Just like my boobs… i’m an advanced type of gal, keep up with the times CSS 1986!”

    • I know! It’s not like our only option is snail mail these days, right? And you’re right….everyday is reunion day in these times.

      PS – I may leave out the boob reference…lol!

  3. Norma Bickle Says:

    Good advice Diane. that was sad enough to make me cry Noelle, I still remember the day you came home sobbing about the “breast remarks”, and you would never put on a puckered stretchy top again. Bickle Girls rock!!!!!!

    • Diane Bickle Lehman Says:

      I was always so envious of Noelle’s breasts (there I said it). I had no idea she was going through this. I was made fun of for being flat-chested. We all had our “issues” back in the day. But now we are able to make decisions for ourselves and let’s face it – whether one goes to a HS reunion or doesn’t go – there are so many more important events to buy a drop dead dress and shoes for (ie. trip, wedding, date night). I’m just saying. Noelle – we love you!!!!

      • I might laugh and cry now! And D – the only saying “you always want what you haven’t got” applied to us both then!I feel the love, and right back at ya!

    • That was a great dress too! Don’t cry though – look at me now – I own about half a dozen of those dresses!

      PS – it was nice to have a good mom to come home and cry to!

      • goforwords Says:

        I would have been jealous of your breasts Noelle. In school I was told I was a Pirate’s Treasure (because I had a sunken chest!) And in fact I got beaten up one time in grade 8 as the culmination of a series of bullying incidents that started because I befriended a new girl in school and because we were both slow to develop physically.

        BTW, I wish now I had the breasts I had then. LOL

      • What? That is terrible – kids can be such little jerks. These are the people I have no interest in breathing the same stuffy banquet hall air as, you know? I hate to be a pessimistic, but I don’t think people change all that much. The girl who beat you up, is not likely the one who will come to you and say she was sorry, and so wrong way back then. Some people would, after years of reflection or therapy, but I don’t see the world is all that enlightened yet.

        PS – I’m with you…I could go for those ones now too…instead I ended up with my old aunt Gladie’s. LOL

      • Lisa Llamrei Says:

        OMG, that’s awful, Sue! I was like Noelle with the boobs, but I never did get teased for it. Maybe because I liked them, maybe because kids were busy teasing me about everything else – my hair, my clothes, my taste in music, my personality. I was kind of weird in high school (I know, you’re shocked to hear that) – one year my parents gave me the complete works of Shakespeare for Christmas because that’s what I wanted.

        Did everybody have this kind of experience or was it just us artistic types?

      • Only some of the replies and emails I’ve gotten on this blog have been from artsy types, so I think this tormented teenager experiece was in fact more universal than we realized. If we only knew then what we know now, life would have felt so much easier.

  4. Bernice Says:

    What a blog! I love reading a completely different point of view. I’m looking forward to the reunion. A time when I can meet with the good, the bad and the ugly and see it all for the first time, with no fragile emotions attached to each re-introduction. For the same reason I read a good book, I’m going back. I’ve been introduced to great characters, and have experienced the first book of their lives, now I’d like to experience the sequel.

    You and I were not friends in highschool and I think I’m safe to say that, other than your name, I didn’t know you at all. Thanks to your great blogs, I know you much better now than I ever did back then and I’d cherish the opportunity to get together over a drink and have a chat.

    I’m now completely comfortable in my own skin. Like me or don’t like me. your rejection won’t have a lasting effect, but who knows what joy could come from a great, new friendship. So long lost friends, acquaintences and enemies, bring them on! Where are they in their lives? Did they become more compassionate or bitter? How do they spend their days? What joys have they experienced and what sorrows?

    For the same reason I read your blog, I want to go to the reunion. Who knows who will touch my life. And just maybe, I’ll be able to touch someone else’s life. And if you felt cruelty from me, please don’t keep it a secret. Come and tell me, I want to understand what I did, how it made you feel and then I’d love the opportunity to apologize.

    • Hmmm…I love the opportunity to see things from a different perspective, and you are giving that to me today.

      I wish I had your outlook – I think it’s a very healthy one. I think you made a good point too – if I was to talk about the cruelty I probably would get some satisfaction with an apology or genuine regret. The sad part is I don’t think everyone is as evolved as you are, or as confident. Maybe I’m short-changing people, I don’t know.

      I think it is great that you are going to the reunion, and even better that you are open to creating new friendships with old acquaintances. Interestingly, that doesn’t surprize me all that much, because what I do remember about you is that you were normal and nice. Looks like those traits have remained!

      PS – it would be great to grab a tea sometime. You’ll have to let me know if you are ever travelling north bound (Orillia way) and I’ll FB you if I am heading down sometime! Thanks for reading, it means a lot!

  5. Leza Says:

    Amen Noelle! I will be showing Jamie this blog tonight because you have completely put into words how I feel about our upcoming Henry Street reunion. I have no desire to go either but I get the sneaking suspicion he does…ugh not happening!!!

  6. Dave Says:

    Ok Noelle. My buddy and I went to our high school reunion some years ago. We were kind of disappointed. Never mind ‘kind of’, we were outright disappointed.

    You have to remember that the reunion is open to everyone and it depends on how many people from your year go (there were 2500 kids at our school). We had enough people from our year to just fill two eight seat tables, and that included spouses. Of those from our year at those two tables, only one couple were of the group we hung out with. We knew several other people there too of course.

    An interesting part was revisiting the old school itself and visiting the classrooms and few remaining teachers. One student from our class was actually a teacher there now and another student had married a teacher from our year!! One student we didn’t know was a published authour and was signing his book in the hall. Lotta class clowns still playing the part and looking foolish cuz no one knew who the f*** they were.

    The reception was at a nice hotel. The drinks were expensive and there were many opportunities to place bids on donated crap in auction rooms to raise money for ?????.

    If you go, take a whack of buddies with you. If ya can’t get a whack, I’d say ‘Stay home’. It’s a most probable yawner.

    Disappointed in Downsview

    • LOL…dear Disappointed in Downview

      There’s one thing for sure – you always bring a smile to my face, so I’m shocked you didn’t bring down the house and have a ball. (we always do when you’re around!)

      As my cousin D said…there’s no going back.

  7. Lisa Llamrei Says:

    I get it completely, Noelle. I was pretty socially backward in high school and had more than my share of bad moments. Since I also graduated in 1986, I’m probably having a reunion this year too. If some of my friends (who are still my friends now) go, then I might. Plus, I have reconnected with some people from my high school class via Facebook – we weren’t ‘besties’ in high school, but we weren’t enemies, either, and it would be kinda nice to see them. Then again, I don’t really need an official reunion for that.

    I absolutely wanted no part of a ten-year reunion. I told my friends who were more enthusiastic about it that the people I cared about I kept in contact with. As for the rest, I didn’t like them when I was in school, why would I want to see them again?

  8. Natalie Says:

    Oh my goodness,I couldn’t have said it better! Being a fellow classmate of yours,I remember well the boobs in grade 4! Reason being I was extremely jealous and extremely flat as a board!
    But never in a million years would I have EVER considered them to have had once ounce of negativity attached. I do however remember you laughing at me in the change room at Hobbs, when I commented how I wish I had such loveliness,you said “well they do get in the way” we were about to go play volleyball.
    You were always the funny,pretty,popular girl,whom everyone wanted to be friends with, and yet you were never mean or bitchy to were the nicest girl in school which made you even prettier!
    I have also enjoyed reconnecting with our Cougars and find myself only wanting to reconnect with them! The ones who actually mean something to me,and have the same fun memories.
    Except for maybe seeing a certain boy I fell madly in love with,I have no desire to put myself through an evening of superficiality either.
    I haven’t saved the date,I have discussed this with the others and they feel undecided too. Glad you had the guts to say it!
    Natalie (one of the ones who is grateful for your forgiveness 😉

    • Hi Nat

      Isn’t it wild to see inside other people’s heads? I would have traded those body parts off in a second for Farrah Fawcett boobs. (which I did have in grade 4, but by grade 6, they had left the building) Yup, would have traded them away without a second thought.

      You make me blush with the stream of compliments – wow – you are top of my fan club baby! Thank you, but I think that wonderful perception you had of me, was just that – a perception. Everyone else always looks like they have it so together, don’t they? I guess it’s nature’s way of keeping us humble, who knows. But I know I didn’t feel the way you describe the teen me. I love that you thought I was funny though – I never felt funny back then.

      I thought for sure you cougars would team up and go, but needless to say, I get the hestiation. At least if you go as a team it will be fun matter what. You guys are such a hoot. (It’s a wonder we didn’t get into way more trouble in highschool…lol)

      Thanks for your comments and your kind words…and don’t be silly – long forgotton. 🙂 Hope to catch a night out with the girls again sometime.

  9. Craig Says:

    Hi Noelle,

    I, like you, had memories of school that i’d rather forget, and if there are people i want to get in touch with i will find a way, i don’t need a reunion to do so. Again like you, minus the breast thing had circumstances i don’t want to revisit, so you’re not alone in how you feel about the whole school thing. To me personally these reunions just remind you of how some things don’t change, good or bad.Like Bernice said you and i didn’t hang out with the same crowd, however we had gone to school together i think from early grade school, and your blog is an excellent way to kinda get to know one another in a way that we didn’t through the school years. So bottom line i’m glad i wasn’t the only one considering not attending. Take care.

    • Hi Craig,

      Well, your comment has been most thought provoking. The interesting thing here, is that since we started school together as little tykes, I would have always descibed you as the sweet, shy, good hearted, cute little blond guy. (who had a dog the same name as my sister…lol) No drama, no chaos, and I never would have considered you would have any circumstances you wouldn’t want to revisit. Which brings me to my point – It’s interesting though how we used to see each other – how it looked like everyone else had it easy, just blended in nicely, or seemed like they had the slice of apple pie life. Amazing how we think our awkwardness, or humiliations, or our secrets defined only ourselves. No wonder there were times we felt so alone. As an adult I’ve learned that nobody has that perfect life I saw on TV, but it took me a long time to understand that.

      And I agree – this blog had served as a wonderful tool for engaging in conversations we would never have over a banquet table reception. Thanks for reading, and thanks even more for commenting, it means a lot to me. 🙂

  10. Erica Says:

    I’m with you Noelle! I honestly wouldn’t go. I don’t like the idea of everyone there trying to “Keep up with the Joneses”. Or commenting how the attractive people from school put on a lot of weight, etc., etc. The whole idea makes me feel judged. I have some friends I’ve kept through the years and we still keep in touch. I also have some friends that I easily let go. I don’t like to judge people and I’m not a big fan of those who do. I like friends like you, who no matter what the circumstance they always find something nice to say or some way to make you feel better!

    Jamie had a totally different opinion and was really looking forward to a reunion with his high school but unfortunatley it fell through.

    I love the way Facebook works. People can find you…if you want them too. They can ask your permission to be your friend…you can choose to accept or ignore them. I’ve had some very special people pop back in my life that way and I didn’t need an awkward reunion to find them.

    Who needs that much stress!! Enjoy a peaceful evening with your family and friends. They’re your biggest fans!

    • Hi Erica, Considering I looked like a bobblehead with boobs in highschool, I would definatly be up for discussion on the round table of “look how much weight she’s gained”. Yikes – I don’t like that thought at all. But I thnk you nailed a big part of it – I don’t want to be judged either. For what I was, for what I was percieved to be, or for what I am now. I take lead from my children and my parents. If they think I am a good person, a sucessful person, that’s all that matters. (my hubby too of course!)

      I find it interesting – a lot of people mentioned their significant other had an opposing view of the reunion. Interested in finding out how those nights went…

  11. dd Says:

    You should go. You should go because the bad guys don’t count. But the good ones do. When I am taking my last breath, on my death bed, I would not be thinking about the guy who made fun of boobs in grad 4. I would be thinking about that teacher who said something so inspirational, that it changed the way I looked at life…or the close friend who I confided in, telling her my inner most secrets to…or the crowd that stood up, and gave me a standing ovation for a part that I played in the school play…the point is, you will remember only the good moments that touched your life and the good people. None of the rest will matter when you’re taking your last breath…so none of the rest should matter now. See only the good and you will see so much more that you would be missing 😉

    Just my opinion!! (and you know how like to give it)

    Good luck. I confess, I barley get 5 minutes in my busy work day…but when I sneak to the washroom (for a break!) I sit on the toilet, make my personal calls in the privacy of my stall…and read your blog!! Ha! Always makes me smile 😉

    • DD! My first thought – OMG, we need to get together, time flew, my bad. We have business to do…so I’ll email you.

      Second – I love this turn of events here…you are the pollyanna with hope and light, and I am the cynic – dark and upfront. What is happening with us? I just got used to the social and sentimental DD, now you add enlightened, wise and profound!?! I do like that you have always been one to give your opinion freely, and I would never want or expect that to change.

      LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that you sneak into the bathroom and read my blog on the toilet…HAHAHAHA! That made me snort out loud!

  12. Dale Long Says:

    Noelle, I hear you. I went to my high school reunion a few years back. I was on the fence about whether I’d go or not. Sue and I went to the same high school (yes, high school sweethearts) and she wanted to go.

    I found that guys go through a very similar ‘bodily insecurity’ as well. I was a late developer too. Tall and gangly. I didn’t start to ‘man-up’ until university. So the one part about the reunion was running into the school bus bully and looking down on him. A foot taller and twenty pounds bigger instilled a niceness on his behalf that I found satisfying.

    I had lots of regrets about high school and it wasn’t what I wanted to revisit.

    Kids can be cruel, but I found girls to be more so.

    There is a certain satisfaction to be had as well. You’re happy, doing what you love and have a great husband and kids to show off. They’ll all be envious. The balding overweight jocks and overly botoxed Donna’s.

  13. Hi Dale, I can see how you would have got some sweet satisfaction with that scenario…lol. I also like that you and Sue went together and that must have felt good to have that unity and prove the love was made to last. Very nice.

  14. Lisa Says:

    Hey Noelle,
    I really enjoyed what you had to say and I totally agree with you.
    I havent made the commitment cause honestly when your divorced, not in a relationship, never had a great career why do I want to go and see all the great others have achieved.

    I’m very content with the ones from high school that I have let back into my life. There are some I wish i could see more, such as yourself.
    I think we just need to do our own reunion like we did at Carolyns. Hand selected people that we enjoy to be around. Maybe we could come see you, were always looking for a destination for a road trip.

    Noelle its always great to read what you have to say, lets get something planned for the summer. You are missed, hope all is well with you hun.

    Take care,

    • Hi Lisa! Thanks for reading and for posting a comment too.

      It would be great to have you girls up here for a road trip – it’s not too much of a hike – just shy of two hours. Summer is better for the roads, so that sounds like a plan.

      I think living the good life is about much more than not being divorced or having a “great career”. You shortchange yourself – being a good person, and being lucky enough to have artistic vision like you have through the eye of the camera lens…that counts for a lot. Head high woman – you are fabulous!

      PS – speaking of photography – LOVED those last photos posted – the mother/baby ones – simply breathtaking!

  15. Nadine Says:

    Having read all the comments from those who follow your blog Noelle, if you are now feeling “undecided” is it any wonder given the diverse responses you received? Ultimately though, do what feels the best for “you” cause when it comes to optional things, I really do think it’s gotta be all about you babe! That said, I have spent the last two weekends reconnecting with people whom I haven’t seen in more than 20+ years and it has been very cathardic, funny, insightful, totally amazing and in many ways, a great reminder of how far I’ve come in my own skin. I think it was Bernice who said “I’m comfortable in my own skin” and man, how I envy peole who say that and mean it – I’m still looking at the reflection in the mirror some days and thinking, man – will you ever grow up? Maybe yes, maybe no but when I saw those people whom I hadn’t seen in more than 20+ years, not only did it bring back the good, bad and ugly but also the journey since those days and all the great that I’ve been blessed with since then. So – go – don’t go – it’s all about you babe – do what feels RIGHT! and to hell with those who want to guilt you into it! Love you


    • How cool that you have had some reconnections that have been totally amazing. There is something to be said about being at the point where you don’t really give a damn, it makes it so much easier to live a balanced life! I have had brief moments of reconsidering my decision, but they were brief, and only hinged on the hope that maybe it could be what my blog followers had spoke of. When all is said and done, I am pretty comfortable with knowing what is good for me, and what I need to do to keep grounded and centred. For me that means not attending. But at least I gave those who do attend something to talk about…lol!


  16. Corey Liu Says:

    I wasn’t a fan of high school, either. It’s only been a couple years since I left the place, but there are some old wounds there I’d rather not revisit. I think your point is valid – even after ten or twenty years, can we ever really forgive someone who’s wronged us? I don’t think we can. As much as we believe in redemption and change, there’s always that inner fat girl or gay kid, that geek or dweeb, who tells us that people don’t really change – that even after high school they will continue to be assholes. Is it fair? Probably not. But really, do we owe these people the benefit of any doubt, anyway?

    Just the word “reunion” is misleading. It implies that there was a union in the first place. It doesn’t acknowledge the division or hierarchies, the cliques… and high school has many cliques. I’m curious how many people are actually happy that so and so is happily married or has that glitzy new job at the firm – even if he was a douche-head when he was seventeen. But in spite of my slightly cynical view, I do sometimes entertain this fantasy of me at my own reunion, beautiful and fabulous and with a stunning career, with everyone saying, “Wow! Look how much he’s changed!” But as I am currently unemployed, underweight, and nowhere near as hot as Megan Fox, I can’t see that happening any time soon.

    • Oh Corey, I miss you!

      You make a good point about the word reunion. I’ve never thought about that, very insightful. And I agree, I don’t believe many people change all that much. I might make better choices now than I did then, but I am essentially the same person I was at 15. My morals are the same, my character strenghts the same. My flaws are still there too, only well padded based on 15 years of therapy. People are who they are, and it takes alot of work and therapy to change things. And I figure those who are at that point and did me wrong have already had those discussions with me, and I’ve made amends with the people I’ve needed to as well.

      PS – Correction: you’re going to film school, svelte (which means you look good in every outfit you ever wear), and Megan Fox is overrated. Beautiful boy, you short-change yourself. xo

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