Philip Roth wrote acerbically of school reunions that there are few reasons to go, most of them suspect, and usually based on self-aggrandisement (look how much better than you I have fared!).
Our school was a difficult and troubled place and when I joined at the age of 13 (after four years of an only-partially-successful experiment in rural home schooling, about which more some other time), I was terrified by what seemed to be the premature maturity of my fellow pupils in the big city: talking about learning to inhale, and drinking at parties, and lovebites. I felt completely out of my depth.
Shy and insecure, and longing to fit in but unable to, I made things worse for myself by falling horribly in love with the class celebrity (who would definitely mind being described this way). So popular was he that, when I went past his house on the bus, I would always see at least one person hanging around outside waiting to catch a glimpse. I never stooped to that, of course, but I too succumbed to his rough magic. He had several self-appointed female security guards whose job it was to stop anyone from getting to close to him.
At the first real party I ever went to (ie the first with no adults present), I watched in despair as he carried his then girlfriend, who was wearing a risible schoolgirl outfit with a black lace garter, up the stairs for – what? I didn't know. I had a glass of wine and danced to Mad World, which in that teenage nightmare seemed to speak my life.
The pupils at my school seemed to specialise in psychological warfare – or is that every school? So yes, on reflection I am in no hurry to revisit those memories either; as this article about the Virginia massacre by Lionel Shriver (author of the disturbing, powerful book We Need to Talk About Kevin) says:
"For a lucky few, school and college are where we first distinguish ourselves. But for the majority, they are the site of first humiliation, subjugation and injury. They are almost always our first introduction to brutal social hierarchies, as they may also sponsor our first romantic devastation. What better stage on which to act out primitive retribution?"