It has been TEN YEARS since I graduated from high school. TEN YEARS since I met my college roommate, Dear Friend and subsequently Funky and Fabulous friends. TEN YEARS since I first shook hands with the man I would eventually marry and, last year, divorce. Y’all, I still feel 18.

My ten-year high school reunion is happening this summer. Obviously, I will fool no one who is the occasional reader of this blog, but I have a plan for appearing to have accomplished what some might have thought I was capable of accomplishing in ten years but I haven’t even come close to yet:

I’m not going.

One of my loyal friends will spread the rumor that I’m happily unattached and busily touring the states promoting my YA novels that were published under a nom de plume. Stephenie Meyer perhaps. We are not dissimilarly featured, she and I; I might convince a few folks.

Of course most of Stephenie’s back story will have been fabricated. I live and work quietly in Auburn, am not a graduate of BYU or the mother of three boys with a handsome Hispanic man (ok I’ll admit none of this is probably actually true, I’ve read just enough about the real Ms. Meyer to sound foolish to those who really know what they’re talking about). Anyway, the point is, I’m ME but I’m also secretly wildly successful. And of course they’ve all heard of me and envied me from afar but didn’t realize they were envying ME. And after that night, they’ll say to themselves, “That Liz, I always knew she was going to have an amazing life. I sure do wish I’d kept up with her, I might could have met Taylor Lautner” OR “I bet she wrote Edward Cullen after me, I always knew she liked the quiet, pale, super-smart type” OR “Wow what a sell out. Why didn’t I think of that?”

Then at the 20 year reunion when I show up they’ll all probably have figured out it was all a dirty falsehood, but it won’t matter then because I really will be a successful author who read a bit of her novel to the Creative Writing department the Friday night before and had to take a special break from her book tour just to see them. And my utterly wonderful husband will be by my side, lovingly gazing down at me as I talk about our two great, smart kids who I’d have every intention of enrolling at ASFA if we didn’t love New York so much. And we’ll all laugh about the ten-year reunion that I skipped while pretending to be Stephenie Meyer, and they’ll all think to themselves, “She really didn’t have to do that, Liz is such a star, it just takes everyone different lengths of time to reach their full potential” OR “She’s just as hot as she was twenty years ago” (PLEASE?!?!?) OR “Her books are so much better than Stephenie Meyer’s, thank god…”

And for those of you who actually think I’d skip this reunion and pretend to be someone I’m not, you’d better rethink that. Of COURSE I’m going. I may have to find the bar before I feel like talking much, but I guarantee we’ll all laugh about the disaster of my life. And if I can make people laugh, I’ll feel pretty successful after all.

And the real story begins. I’ve been tripping over the edge of the sidewalk’s end for five years – married and moved out, finishing and finished with school, job hunting and finding… My lovely husband has to remind me regularly that I don’t need my parents’ permission to buy, say, a new rug, and my lovely parents still try to force me to exercise whenever I’m visiting. Part of me is excited to be living my own life on my own terms. The other part is begging my parents to step in and tell me how to live. (Note to Mom and Dad – ignore that last sentence. I don’t really mean it)

What do most people do when they’re in this “in between” place? When they aren’t children, but also don’t have children of their own? 

Here’s what I do: fake it.

  • “Hi, former-co-worker-at-the-high-school-where-I-spent-a-year-fearing-for-my-sanity-much-less-my-life, no, I’m not still teaching. Yes, I am absolutely thrilled with my new job. Of course, I just love the traveling salesman gig. Who wouldn’t?”
  • “Mom, I promise that I will exercise tomorrow. No, I haven’t had a chance to clean up the guest bedroom yet. I know, I know, it’s been nearly two years, I should have all of my boxes unpacked by this point.”
  • “Oh, my goodness! High-school-friend-I-am-reconnecting-with-for-the-first-time-in-eight-years! It’s so fantastic to see you again. Yep, I still write. Indeed, I still do love math. No, no kids. Who wants kids when they could take care of the virtual zoo my husband and I have started in our 1200 square foot home?”
  • “What’s up, neighbor-across-the-street-who’s-name-I-can-never-remember? Sure, I’ll bring in your mail for you while you’re on vacation this summer! No, we never go on vacation, no cash flow. I know! Everything is so expensive these days…”
  • “Holla, younger-sister-who-is-adorably-more-befuddled-by-life-than-I-am, I would love to offer you sage advice based on my years of experience in the real world. Please tell me your 4.75 college GPA hasn’t dropped a hundredth of a point! Oh no!” (Note: I didn’t know it was possible to get above a 4.0 GPA in college, either. Leave it to my sister to find that out…)
  • “Boss! Thanks for calling today, I appreciate that you took the time. I know, living in different states makes communicating difficult. It is weird not working out of a real office. Of course I’m adjusting to the traveling. No, I really don’t mind cold calling. It’s just ordering pizza that makes me cry…”
  • “Darling-sweet-and-wonderful-nieces-that-I-don’t-get-to-see-often-enough, never grow up. Never.”

It’s the talking to people who don’t quite get it that makes things so difficult. Are they really all that grown up, or are they really like me, faking it hard, and I’m just buying into it because I’m so desperate for someone to  have a clue what they’re doing?