Can we talk about high school for a minute? I know many people remember high school with disdain. I, on the other hand, remember it fondly. So so fondly. I loved my school, I love the people with whom I went to school, and I love who I was at the time. That’s not to say that there weren’t people that attended my school at the exact same time who had a very different experience. In fact, I’ve recently read stories of fellow students who had a horrible time in high school. And I was there. It makes me so sad.
It’s also not to say that there weren’t tough times for me in high school.
My next door neighbor was two years my senior, he played football and hockey, and he was popular. The first time we were at the bus stop together I tried to make conversation because, well, I thought that’s what you were supposed to do? Apparently I was wrong. Soon after that his girlfriend, who was also popular and two years older, waged war. Now…picture this if you will…I am a freshman in high school who still sprays my bangs in a ball at the top of my head and wings out the hair above my ears and I have braces. The popular girl feels as though she needs to terrorize ME??? Seriously. She wore only Polo and I wore exclusively Old Navy. Was I a threat to her? I think not.
She threw verbal insults my way in the halls as did her gorgeous popular friends. I remember a particular incident in which I was sitting in the stands at a basketball game, I had just finished cheering JV, and stayed to watch varsity. She and her friends hurled pennies at me for an entire quarter of the game. Another time she and my next door neighbor, and the hottest guy in their grade and his date, were leaving my next door neighbor’s house to go to a dance. I was shoveling my driveway. They honked, I turned around to wave, and there all four of them sat…giving me the finger. A-sholes.
Aside from dealing with the occasional bully in Ralph Lauren sweater sets, I loved it. I had such a strong sense of self and worth and I had great, truly fabulous, and incredibly bright friends. Many of whom I still call close friends today. We had a small class (245). Many people stay in the city in which we grew up and those who leave tend to find amazing success. Our high school boasts amazing minds, leaders, and artists (Coen Brothers? Al Franken? Thomas Friedman? Yes.). There must be something in the water. For as much as I b-tch about Facebook, I’m so pleased to be able to keep in touch with the people with whom I went to high school, because for the most part? They are remarkable people. Every last one of them.
As I mentioned last week, an old friend was in town because his film was being highlighted in a film festival, and Eh and I went to support him. This guy is one of at least two people with whom I graduated that have written books. All day I wanted to stay home. You know how it is…you start to think of the things you “should” be doing at home, plus it was our last evening with the little girls until next Monday, and the dog had been sick, and I really needed to run, etc. Eh was running late because her boss (who offices in Canada) was in town. I kept secretly hoping she’d have to cancel.
She didn’t and I forced myself to go. I wanted to go, I really did, but my desire to stay home was threatening to take over. We went, figured out the ticket situation, and while we were in line we ran into another guy with whom we graduated. Someone I’ve not seen in at least ten years. We got him to stand in line with us and we sat together. We ran into our friend, whose film we were there to see, and he was so grateful to have us there.
We watched ten short films over the span of two hours. At the conclusion the filmmakers answered questions and then it was over. We stayed for a bit to chat with our friend who sat with us and with our friend the filmmaker and it was…in a word…lovely. So. Very. Lovely.
Here’s the thing. When I see people with whom I went to high school, in most cases, they are genuinely happy to see me. And I know that they know ME. When I was a teenager I’d never suffered from depression, I’d never gone through a phase in which I didn’t want to leave my house/husband/little girls for even a moment, I’d never doubted myself for real, I wasn’t scared of failing, I hadn’t been kicked in the gut by life yet. I certainly had seen struggle and had experienced having to overcome challenges but I had never been stripped down to the core and had to build myself back up. I was exactly who I wanted to be…and still aspire to be. I was outgoing, charismatic, bright, hungry (no…not for Girl Scout cookies kind of hungry…hungry for success and work), ambitious, and I did EVERYTHING. I worked 32 hours per week in retail, went to school, and was involved in 643 activities. And oddly, I did all of it well. Incredibly well. Like, top of my game well. When I see people from high school I feel like that girl again. I feel confident and like nothing, NOTHING, can hold me down. And it feels so refreshing.
But here’s the other thing. If that b-tch from high school were to see me now, I’d have no problem telling her what an a-shole she was.
So I guess what I really want to be is my high school self but with the knowledge of my now 36 years.
TODAY: What if I work on being my confident and capable self from high school combined with the wiser version of me that I am now? What if I keep going out “into the world” for inspiration to be a better me? What if in fifteen years when talking about incredible success stories from my high school they include ME in that list?
PS – Speaking of incredible success…I will reach 11,000 views today after only four months. That is SO exciting and I cannot thank you enough. Thank you dear readers (friends) for making this such a humbling and lovely experience. Hopefully it will continue to get better and you will continue to come back.