This weekend marks my 20th college reunion, and I’m not going. I live about 4 hours away from my alma mater, so the event would entail a weekend getaway with a rather expensive hotel stay. But that’s only a small part of why I’m not going. I won’t even consider attending the official reunion events on campus since those are essentially a way to amass a captive audience for the Development Office’s begging campaign. But that’s also only part of the reason I won’t attend.
The real deal is that I can’t think of one former classmate with whom I have much of anything in common. I blame a lot of it on the Generation X factor. Back in college, we were all on basically a level playing field. Our backgrounds and interests were different, but we were all poised to enter the world after college and make our own way. The problem for me is that I didn’t follow the script that was written for us Gen X women. We were supposed to go to college and get an advanced degree as well, along with scoring an awesome job that turned into a fabulous career. Once those tasks were accomplished, then we were permitted to marry and have children, neither of which were supposed to interfere with the fabulous career. I wrote my own script, getting married a year after graduation and following my active-duty military husband around the world while having and raising children.
Several times a year I receive my alumnae magazine in the mail, and I read all about who just got a PhD, who was named Executive Director of this and that, and who just had her first or second child. Congratulations to all! However, I don’t really have an interest in chatting all weekend about new baby’s teething, preschooler child’s “graduation”, or the HR difficulties at So-and-so’s mid-size business. Women of my age are at so many different places in life that it is nearly impossible to find common ground. No fun for me to be the seasoned matron trying to fit in with way-back-when parenting stories. And my misadventures of trying to teach myself Excel won’t go over very well with the corporate gurus. And I’ll wager there aren’t many of my classmates who can commiserate about teenage daughters, the perils of re-entering the workforce after a long absence, or the foreign-ness of putting down roots after 20 years as a military family.
Uncommon though I am, I know this is not a conundrum exclusive to me. I have heard from other classmates who are unmarried and childless that they aren’t interested in hearing about baby stories either. And many of us wonder what the point of Reunion Weekend is in this age of Facebook. After all, it’s not so hard to track down your long-lost roommate anymore with Facebook or Twitter.
I think the women of Generation X can’t connect. We’ve got Mommy Wars and single-by-choice and “You can have it all” attitudes dividing us. I suppose the politically correct thing to say would be that they are all valid choices, but I find that mentality hard to swallow. “I personally find that choice (immoral / harmful / selfish / other–take your pick), but it’s fine with me if it’s what you want.” Relativistic crap is what that is. I can’t be supportive of former classmates who chose to contract out their child’s upbringing to day care centers so that they could pursue their professional dreams. The same goes for those who are now manufacturing their children through fertility clinics because they delayed pregnancy until after getting the PhD or cushy corner office. To me, those are life decisions that are hard to get past when you’re trying to reconnect after 20 years.
I’ll check Facebook for the photos and gossip from Reunion Weekend. I’ll be thinking about the Old Days. A little part of me will even wish I was there. The rest of me will be a little sad about how far apart we’ve grown from such a small, tight-knit group of women 20 years ago. Here’s to the Class of 1991.