Last year I went to my 20th high school reunion. I was hesitant to go for two reasons. First, I was nine months pregnant and certainly not looking my best, and second, I wasn’t sure that I really needed to go. Facebook has rendered reunions obsolete.
My generation did not grow up with all of this connectivity. I left high school and college with the expectation that most of those people would drift out of my life, and once they were out, that would likely be the last we would see each other. (Insert story about walking to school, barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways, while drinking milk that cost a nickel. Get off my lawn, you rotten kids!) Back in those days, someone would have to go to great stalker-y lengths to track a person down, which is, of course, only acceptable if…
There is no reason this would be acceptable.
But now we have Facebook, which is nifty. Joining has unearthed lots of fun memories. It has also opened a tiny corner in an old box I call Things I Probably Should Have Said, But Didn’t. I suspect that this is unique to me and my neurosis. In fact, if anyone else has had these thoughts, please let me know so I won’t rush off to a therapist.
If you are willing to board my crazy train, here’s what I’m talking about.
There were times in the past when I was presented with an opportunity — or should have created an opportunity — to say something to someone. The moments passed into months, which faded into years, and the thing that should have been said was lost. And then, 20 years later, there is a friend invite waiting for me from that very person. So we connect. Do I say the unsaid thing NOW, like a goober? Or let it remain unsaid, hanging in the storage closet with my varsity jacket and old debate trophies? Would it even matter to this person anymore?
It depends on what the topic is, I’m sure, and how much he or she would possibly care. There is a high probability that the thing I am worrying about, at 11:22pm twenty years later, is now completely meaningless.
So here it is. My list of some of the things I should have said back then. (Notice that I am still taking the passive route to avoid becoming Queen of Goobers.)
- You are the coolest whistler I ever met. I could listen to you whistle all day.
- I forgive you.
- I know you had a terrible childhood, and deserved so much better. I hope that your adult life is worthy of you.
- You were a formidable teacher, but you prepared me for college better than anything else I did.
- I’m sorry.
- Reach out to me anytime, now or future, and I will be happy you did. I seriously don’t care how long it’s been since we talked.
- I admire you.
- I learned to French braid my hair by watching you absent-mindedly do yours over and over in chemistry class.
- I should have acknowledged your letter of apology. I didn’t know how to answer, so I just didn’t. I should have said something.
- I wish we had kept in touch all of these years — I had forgotten how much fun you are!
- You were so talented. I fully expected to see your name in lights. I hope you are still singing and being appreciated.
My neurosis has a message for you: Don’t let the unsaid things go. Tell someone you thought they were a stylish dresser. An inspirational story-teller. That you should have gone on that date. Whatever. Now that we have Facebook there is no excuse. And you can avoid becoming a 39 year-old worrywart who is still pondering the etiquette of decades-old, unspoken words.