I went. Yup, that’s funny, because I said I wasn’t going to go. But my husband and several close friends used their every persuasion to make me realize I had TOLD people why I am different. Now I needed to stand behind it and go.
So I did.
And it wasn’t bad. Several people went out of their way to say hi to me and let me know that they were glad I came. Four people mentioned that the “prayer” (yes, the prayer, at the high school reunion. Sigh.) was given by a non-Mormon. And it was a nice prayer. But they missed the point. There shouldn’t have a BEEN a prayer at the high school reunion, held in the high school that we didn’t attend! (For those who don’t know, Davis High School was demolished and rebuilt a few years back. In short, it wasn’t the same school we attended.)
The atheists were completely offended. Okay, kidding. My one atheist friend didn’t say anything at all about the prayer, so I don’t know if she was offended.
But one of my Mormon friends WAS offended. She didn’t understand why a prayer was necessary for a reunion.
I guess some of the people we attended high school with couldn’t imagine starting ANYTHING without a prayer, so they came up with a great alternative. Let’s have someone who ISN’T Mormon say the prayer! That’ll show Natalie! (I’m making all this up, by the way.)
So, prayer aside, it went fine. I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Someone won an award for having nine children. Everyone was nice. I recognized more people than I thought I would.
And then something really, really special happened. Throughout the night, I started telling people what they meant to me, and what my memories were of them.
It started at Roosters, where the heathens met to drink and enjoy before the reunion. There, I saw Tammy. A girl I met when we first moved to Kaysville. Moving in 8th grade is not an easy thing, and I came to a school where everyone already had their friends. And I told her that she was one of my very first friends in this very sterile, very closed and conservative community. She was completely surprised. I don’t think she even remembered. But I do. She was nice to me, when everyone else was skirting wide around me.
And the rest of the night, I managed to tell people what little thing they did that made my life different.
And some people said the same thing to me. And that made it ALL worthwhile.
Afterward, a fascinating mix of people came over to our house. A couple of active Mormons, a lovely woman who was in the Indian Placement Program, some pagans, some gays, some people that grew up non-Mormon in the land of Mormons, and some weirdos. Okay, wait. That was me.
But it was a great time. I heard the stories I knew were there. As a writer, I have learned that EVERYONE has a story. And we opened up and shared those stories. And it was real.
So, that’s what happened. Aside from one thing.
A friend stopped by my house before she left town. And we shared, and cried, and I came to realize that even though I am no longer Mormon, and confused about how to treat my old friends who still are, they feel the same way. They don’t know what to say. Or how to act around me. But as long as I don’t sacrifice kittens around them, they still want to be friends.
And they are. I have memories. They are mostly good. And I wish all of my high school friends happiness. I know you all have stories. I am so sorry for the pain you have or will feel. One doesn’t escape this life without pain. We all have our coping mechanisms.
I’m glad I went.