An Aspie / autistic person goes to a high school reunion 

Last year at this time, I was preparing to go to my high school reunion.  

I had never gotten around to writing about it.  Today, I will.

It would be the first reunion I had ever attended; there were indeed five-, ten-, and fifteen-year reunions, but circumstances had always prohibited me from going.  Last year marked the 20-year.  And despite being on the heels of my most significant self-discovery ever, I was going to go, come hell or high water.

I was split between two worlds–one of excitement, and one of apprehension.  This would be my first airline flight since my Asperger’s/autism spectrum discovery, and I was knee-deep in the torrential undercurrents of the reframing process, becoming aware of–and honest with myself about–how things actually affected me, coming to terms with it all, and making a little more room in my life for my newly-realized needs and adjustments.

Yeah.  It was a lot to process.

I had to take serious stock.  Reality check: how does flying actually affect me?  

There’s the US TSA screening; luckily I had enrolled in the TSA Pre-Check program the year before, so flying wasn’t nearly the pain in the arse that it had been before.  But the fact remained that the TSA security agents were still an all-powerful force to be reckoned with, and they had all-powerful powers to detain someone.  Even though I don’t break laws or pose threats, Shizz Happens, and I tend toward not-the-best of luck.  I realized just how anxious the TSA process makes me.

I can find my way around and locate my gate just fine, but sitting at said gate can be difficult in itself.  Airports are not built to be quiet places, and shrieks, especially those emanating from small children without developed senses of inhibition, no matter how adorable, tend to reverberate the most potently and pierce my eardrums the most painfully.  Worse yet, these bursts of sensory agony are completely unpredictable, sending me into a state of pensive defense.  In fact, I feel myself huddling, wanting nothing more than to curl up in a fetal position.

Then there’s the plane itself.  Too crowded, too cramped, and too much for my semi-germophobic imagination.  At least some of the sound is comparatively more muffled, but it never fails: there is always one crying baby on the flight (seriously–every time), and my partial hearing loss is no match.

Then there’s the reunion itself.  Would it, too, be too overwhelming?  I graduated in a class of over 400; how many of them would be attending?  Will there be anyone that I like?  Anyone who liked me?  Would anyone even remember me?  If so, in which way–good or bad?  Would I be more awkward, less awkward, or differently awkward than before?  I was still in Free, Liberal Disclosure Mode; how many people would I end up telling (if anyone), who would they be, and how would they react?  Would it be a case of “oh, so that’s why (you were so weird/quiet/awkward, etc)!”  Or would it be “congratulations!  I’m glad you solved your mystery”?  Or maybe “I’m so sorry; you must be devastated”?

Hell if I knew.  It was a wildcard at that point.

And why the hell couldn’t they have held the reunion at the school or somewhere in the same community?  I knew my way around that pretty well.  But no, they had to hold it in some strange and remote place far away from anything I’d been used to.  Argh.

As it turns out, my best friend from high school came with me, and since I have well-developed nerves of steel, she doubled as my passenger and navigator, which took an immense load of stress off my shoulders.  I (gently) advised her on how to navigate the route in a way that I could hear and comprehend.  She did wonderfully.

This also meant that I had someone to talk with, even in the event that no one else would.

I learned that as an autistic, I can ask for pre-boarding privileges without paying extra for them.  In the US, you don’t even have to tell the airline why or produce any kind of documentation; you just ask for a pre-boarding pass at the desk at your gate.  The US airlines are extremely understanding and accommodating.  They had my back.

I ended up telling only two people about my revelation; as for the rest, I simply kept it to myself, feeling interestingly conspiratorial.  It was my Inner Secret.  One of the people I told responded with the socially obligatory “I’m sorry”, but I quelled that quickly with, “please, don’t be.  It’s really OK.  In fact, I was so happy; it’s one of the best things to happen to me.”  And she was cool with that.  She seemed relieved, like the pressure of a thick awkwardness had been released, evaporated.

My trip there had begun with an acute dental emergency, so although I was mostly recovered from that by the time of the reunion, I was still coming down from it, so there was a bit of an overshadowing preoccupation.  That’s OK, too.  (Incidentally, that’s the event that kicked off the string of dental visits last summer and fall.)

Nobody ridiculed me; they either talked with me in a friendly way, or we didn’t talk.  I think about 70 people showed up, and I think I talked with a total of six or seven.  

Overall, I’m really glad I went, and I’m also glad that this will only take place every five-to-ten years. 🙂

PS: If you’re in the US and you fly even once every couple years, I highly recommend enrolling in the TSA Pre-Check program and obtaining a pre-board authorization!  ❤

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31 Comments

  1. I will never, never, NEVER attend a high school reunion. Not now, not ever. My classmates treated me like shit in high school. The night we graduated I told all of their sorry asses to fuck off and I’ve remained true to that vow. I don’t want to see, hear from, etc. any of them ever again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lynn, me neither – I wouldn’t want to ever lay eyes on anyone I went to school with. Horrid horrid place, time and people. I had nightmares about the place until recently. Funnily enough, seeing pictures of the place being bulldozed was very cathartic! Good for you for telling them where to go, I wish I had.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Kudos to you!😀❤ You are so brave for attending! Sounds like it turned out well. Unfortunately, where part of me has a certain amount of curiousity about what would happen if I went to a reunion, my fear wins out-not to mention the fact my high school years were tangled up with he who became husband #1 and walked out on me 8 years later. I always have the anxiety not only of prying questions from others, but the looming terror he might show up…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m happy to hear that you had a good time at your high school reunion. 🙂

    Thank you for the tip with the pre-boarding pass! I’m not sure if it will work for Ryanair, which I mostly fly within Europe, but when I go on an overseas flight, I will definitely look into that. I get stressed out a lot in regular boarding, but I am glad to hear there is an option.

    I probably will never go to a secondary school reunion because I had an awful time and I was bullied non-stop. I grew apart from most of my friends and one of my friends from secondary school was very abusive towards me. There’s not much reason for me to go, and I now live overseas so it’s expensive to go back to the States.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, I’m so sorry you endured that 💐💐. I definitely don’t blame you for not wanting to go back and see those awful people. I’m so sorry, too, that one of the perpetrators was a friend! That hurts the most, I think. Much love from here, girl 😘🌷🌺🌟☀️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. True! It’s amazing to watch people change and grow. People surprised me, in neutral-to-positive ways. Most had grown up in terms of maturity, too, which was nice to see 😊. Oh yeah, that pre-board authorization is a life-saver! Anyone with any disability can get it. It doesn’t even have to be a slower mobility issue 😊. That even includes stuff like anxiety, claustrophobia, hearing loss, and so on. My partner, who is low-vision, told me about it, after a particularly helpful airline employee gave him the tip 🤗💞

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is all good information to know about the pre-board. Yes, isn’t it refreshing when we see the growth and become happy for it.. in ourselves and in others. We are so glad we have grown. Don’t wanna go back, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. neat. in the past few years i’ve wondered if i could ask to preboard, but never thought aspieness would also qualify. now i just need to either travel alone again or convince my other half it’s better to board before the cattle class

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Totally 🙂 Once you do, you’ll never go back 🙂 It’s a much smoother, easier experience! I love the way I can get my stuff secured and get seated and belted in before having to bump elbows with my seatmates. And yep, Aspieness qualifies 🙂

          Flying alone again in a couple weeks. Trying to get my hands on some noise-canceling headphones in time for the trip 😉 ❤

          Like

          1. Amazon has some noisecanceling ones even for the price range of $20. I’ll definitely travel with my bose quietcontrols, and for the eyes, blackout bands. They look like regular sunglasses, but block all light. (Oh, and also the cane so don’t need to explain)
            My next flight will be a longer one, overnight. Even if not traveling alone, it’ll be a case of mentioning to the flight crew “if you need my attention, gently tap me on the shoulder. I don’t see much or any of you, and with my headphones I can’t hear you. So just tap and I’ll get my headphones off to hear you.” Or something like that. I hate people touching me in general, really badly so, but in this case being able to be in my own sound world, and have the divine darkness will be so bliss…

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Awesome!! Thank you so much for the tip! I’ll be looking into this *today*. I definitely need what you described, and the price range is surprisingly reasonable! Yay!! Thank you again 👍🏼💓🌺

            Like

  4. I attended my 10 year reunion, missed the 20 year due to other life events going on. I plan on attending the 30 year if possible. As someone said above, my high school experience was not great and there was something odd about people I’d barely spoken to in 4 years of HS telling me how great it was to see me, especially the ones who treated me like shit when we were teens. But there were also the few friendly faces that I enjoyed visiting with and catching up with. I stay in touch with many of them on Facebook, but I never get to see them in person. That makes it worth it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “there was something odd about people I’d barely spoken to in 4 years of HS telling me how great it was to see me, especially the ones who treated me like shit when we were teens”

      Agreed! It is a little weird ❤ I tried to work my way through this in my head, too. I finally convinced myself that "People Change" and maybe they regretted the way they treated me before. I didn't get made fun of very much in high school, but junior high and especially elementary school were hell on earth.

      But yeah, once I got there, I found a couple of "friendlies". We hadn't actually known each other much in high school–and there was one who I hadn't really even liked back then–but we all clicked at the reunion and I came away with some "new" friends 🙂

      I hope you have a blast at your 30!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My conclusion has been that, while some people do indeed change and regret past behavior, the vast majority are pretty blind to the effect thier words and actions had on me (and others) when we were young. They didn’t necissarily mean any of it maliciously and may have actually thought that we were friends of some sort, not knowing that they made a lot of my life unbearable. Having had contact with several of them via social media, I can see that they are unthinking adults as well. I try not to hold it against most of them too much, they didn’t mean any harm, they’re just ignorant of the effect of thier actions and words. And, maybe, the effect wouldn’t have been as bad on someone whose brain is wired differently than mine? I try not too carry grudges, I just try and avoid damaging people.

        But yes, I made a few “new” friends at the reunion as well. Hope to see them and perhaps make more “new” friemds at the next one.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Excellent approach, my friend 😊. “Unthinking” is a fantastic term. It seems to be incredibly widespread, too, unfortunately. I’m amazed by how so many people just bumble about through life without thinking critically or empathetically (and we’re the ones accused of lacking empathy?? Lol) 😉. Ignorance is its sidekick, an inevitable result.

          I think that so much of this comes from so many sources, not the least of which is the lack of *reading*. People (in general) don’t read anymore. (I have a hard stat from which to make this generalization: 80% of households, at least in the US, don’t freaking read.). And apparently that has a profound effect on one’s IQ. I won’t go so far as to say that I’m personally superior or a better or smarter person because I read a lot or anything, but there does seem to be a link between reading, thoughtfulness, and then, likely empathy as well. I try not to hold it against them, too; it’s a product of the times, to a point. I do know that in the pre-internet days, I read much more than I do now 😊.

          Thank you for your thought-provoking comment! It–well, made me think 😉💓💓

          Like

  5. Cool! I don’t guess I’ll ever get to attend a reunion. My wife has always adamantly refused to attend hers and I didn’t graduate high school (GED). I dropped out during my junior year, so was never even part of a “senior class”. I stay off Facebook in no small part because I don’t want its algorithms reminding people from my past that I exist, so that’s probably just as well. 🙂 If I had graduated HS, I guess next year would be the 35th reunion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you, my friend! 👏🏼👏🏼. A GED is JAA – Just As Awesome 😊. You’re not missing out on anything by not being part of a senior class. It’s all overrated. I’ll probably go to my 25th or 30th, as it was kinda therapeutic to go to my 20th, but it’s also “meh”. 😊. Staying off Facebook is wise, my friend 👏🏼👏🏼. I use it for staying in touch from a distance, but yeah, the Big Brother Factor is pretty freaky 😳💓

      Liked by 1 person

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