You Haven’t Changed a Bit

Janet Coburn
3 min readMay 26, 2024

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Well, yes I have. More than a bit. I’m going to a high school reunion this year (one of the big ones), and I don’t expect to hear that I haven’t changed.

Of course, most of us have changed. In addition to our age, our weight, hair color, careers, and family are not likely to be the same as they were in high school. (I would say, like the old joke, that I can still wear the earrings I wore in high school. But that’s not true. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was in my 20s. But I digress.)

Many things have happened in my life that I’m fairly sure will surprise the other alums. Here’s a list of the sort that some reunions publish in a handy booklet in order to re-introduce ourselves. Instead of places I’ve traveled and impressive career milestones, I offer for your consideration these changes I’ve gone through.

  1. I’m married and have been for 41 years, which I never expected back then. No children. (Or, obviously, grandchildren, which I know many of my former classmates have. I anticipate having many pictures offered to me for oohs and ahs. I’ll start practicing now. But I digress again.)
  2. I kept my birth name. (I don’t like the term “maiden name” because it implies that all brides are virgins, and we know this is not the case. I wore an ivory dress so no one would snicker. But I digress some more.)
  3. I now swear like a highly educated sailor. I learned how when I was a waitress, working my way through college.
  4. I have bipolar disorder. I talk about it openly. When I was in high school (and after), I had a reputation for being moody, difficult, and weird, which there was also no hiding. So at least now there’s an explanation for that.
  5. Despite the fact that I majored in English in both undergrad and grad school, I have never become a burger-flipper or a retail worker. I’ve managed to stay employed more or less in my field, having been an editor/writer, college teaching assistant, and now, ghostwriter. (I’ll skip right over my tenure as a meeting transcriptionist (even though I’m the world’s worst typist, never having taken it in school, which proved to be a big mistake when I had to write all those papers in college) and a security system monitor. I also once had a job inventorying hardware stores at night after they closed. One does what one has to in order to keep cat food in the bowl. But I digress yet again.)
  6. I have tattoos. Two of punctuation, one of books, one for my mother (a compass rose and a yellow rose), and one for my husband (heart locket and key; he has a matching one).

The last time I had a big reunion to go to, I was beyond anxious. My high school days were not happy ones. I asked my hairstylist to make me look sane and successful. My friend Mary Jo, who worked for the local paper (now retired), wrote a column about my pre- and post-reunion experiences. This time, I’m encouraged by the number of my former classmates who’ve said they would like to see me there.

I’ve said I’d go to at least the casual drinks get-together (oh, yes, I also drink alcohol now, at least to the extent of a couple of beers). And I’ll bring my husband, who’s entertaining because he looks like Jerry Garcia. More than that, I can’t promise. I believe I’ll skip the picnic/dance. My knees are shot — bionic knees to come. In that, I know I resemble some of my former classmates. However, just sitting there while everyone else dances doesn’t appeal.

As for the rest of it, I’m no longer so worried about appearing sane and successful. This time, I’d rather appear happier and more interesting.

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Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at butidigress.blog and bipolarme.blog.