Adult women are mysterious shape-shifters: they invariably chop and change their names throughout their lives so that tracing them at times is an impossible challenge!
It's fifty years this year since my cohort traipsed through the gates of our girls' high school, across the asphalt, kitted out with our regulation navy blue bloomers, stiff panama hats and gloves, pinned with dragons, admonished to aim for a brass plate burnished with our name beautifully engraved on it before we were thirty (I have an engraved brick for people to step on in front of a rugby field!) and learned to "fling our pens aside and don our jackets!"
Twenty five years ago we held a reunion. There were no computers yet we managed to attract about 70 attendees. We had parents still living at the same local addresses. It was hard work, but with diligence and a conscientious approach managed by a small committee led ably by former school Prefects, the word went out and the acceptances rolled in.
Roll forward to 2015 to the days of Twittering, Facebook-ing, SMS-ing, and emailing. As my insightful book blogger friend Lisa of ANZ Litlovers Litblog fame says . "women that you lose touch with for one reason or another, and maybe you could find them here on FaceBook or other social media, but they change their names, sometimes even when they're in their 30s and 40s or later".
So, we former high school girls are networking for our upcoming reunion and we're doing a great job! So many are still in touch with each other. 50 year friendships. Little friendship cells of support.
Many women list their old high school on Facebook and this has been very helpful as a point of research for us and a way to get in contact with each other.
Some women, like me, have their maiden name listed as an alternative to their married name. There are not many of us, believe you me!
Many women with horrors of identity theft have flowers and cartoons as their profile shot. In trying to let girls know of upcoming reunions I have peered blearily at the computer screen trying to match the loving grandmother nestling the toddler with my memories of the winsome lass in geography sitting behind me.
And I am one of the Dragon Keepers of our closed online Facebook school peer group keeping out the men applying to join, who are convinced they were at school with us! Tricky when someone asks to join with a married name and I coyly message to ask them the password, which is of course their maiden name, and perhaps a few other pertinent school days details!
However, some women set their privacy controls so that if we want to contact them our messages go to their 'Other Folder' because we don't know them. If you want a message to go through to them you have to pay Facebook $AU1.33 for each message. So I've been paying.
Some women simply do not want to be contacted, which is a great pity, because if they were in contact they might. Not everyone hated their school days.
Sending information to newspapers becomes vital when one reaches all the roadblocks I've listed above such as strict social media privacy controls, parental death so no one can be contacted anymore, workplace privacy restrictions on address release etc etc.
Did I say newspapers???!!!!! I have a Masters degree, two Honours degrees, and two Grad Dips. I thought I was literate! Not so. I lack Daily Telegraph literacy. I have sent at least two notices to the appropriate section of their newspaper asking for our reunion details to be included. I sent two notices to the SMH, one of which was published, but because it was the New Year holiday period perhaps, no one responded to. Another one has been sent to the school website and the local regional newspaper.
So, we have women who change their names; the contemporary fear of online privacy invasion and individual civil liberties; and the seemingly random publication of community school reunion details in public newspapers, versus the simple goal of celebrating friendships begun 50 years ago and renewed with the wisdom and hindsight of maturity.
Here's a tip if you're organising something similar for women you knew as teenagers. If you don't know their married name or someone who does, GOOD LUCK!