Saturday, June 19, 2010

15 years and counting

There is a semi-official 15 year High School Reunion tonight. After much deliberation. I decided to go. I have a sitter, DH has cleared his schedule to go with me, so now I am committed. I guess that sounds like I don't really WANT to go, doesn't it? I do want to go but, I am extremely nervous.

Someone mentioned that reunions are just to show of how good looking and well off you are after all these years. I am neither, so maybe the reunion doesn't apply to me? I have a hard time feeling confident enough to go to the grocery store right now, let alone a pub/bar filled with people who remember me as much tinier than I am today. I feel so shallow that this weight affects me so much. After all, I wouldn't dream of unfriendly to someone else because they weigh more than the doctor's ideal numbers. I shouldn't beat myself up over all of this, either. I wish it was just that easy.

Being on social networking sites has totally changed the dynamics of these get-togethers. First, it is much easier to plan them, so they seem to happen more often than they would have otherwise. Second, it is a easier (and more acceptable) to throw a wide net of invitations, with the understanding that most will not be able to attend. That always leaves me wondering, was I supposed to respond? Am I one of the ones on the list that gets invited, but everyone hopes they really won't show up? Am I making the (incorrect) assumption that anyone actually cares one way or the other? Third, since you have actually been in contact with many of these people, you feel at once more inclined to go and less interested in going. It's great to have an excuse to go and be a grown-up, but since we are able to give daily updates on life, will there be anything to talk about? There were more than 700 in my graduating class. Almost 100 have responded saying they will go, and almost that many said they might go. That is a lot of people. Thinking about being in a crowd that big is beginning to give me cold-sweats.

I remember High School as this vast sea of faces I hardly knew. Classes were filled with people I knew by face or name and had exchanged a few words with, but never really spent time away from school with. I'm sure it was similar for a lot of people but I believe I felt especially isolated, especially at the beginning. I moved to "C Town" right before my freshman year started. I didn't grow up there or even visit there. Most of the people in my class had known each other from Jr high, or even Elementary school. Some started in the same pre-school together! I felt like the outsider of an inside joke.

I did have friends, in fact there were many who I would say affected my life greatly. I also had friends from my old hometown and while it was a comfort at the time, I think it might have prevented me from truly integrating with my new peers. The culture shock of moving from inner city to the suburbs was more than I expected it would be. Where I came from, many of the boys from my kindergarten ended up in gangs, jail, or dead before they got into high school. Also, I was a minority as a white girl and that made me extremely untrusting of anyone else at all. I can only imagine what everyone else thought of me!

As I said before, I did have friends in my high school. There were a few in my neighborhood that I hung out with frequently. Many of the people I became friendliest with that first year were from the choir. I became a member of the church youth group for awhile and I made some friends, there too. But I felt as if something was preventing me from truly becoming close to people. There were a lot of circumstances that I don't feel as if I had control over that seemed to drive a wedge between myself and everyone else.

First, I started out in the beginning level choir with some really wonderful and incredibly talented girls. They were promoted the next year to the advanced choir, but I wasn't. That hurt my pride quite a bit, but it also meant that I felt left behind and on the "outside" once again. I continued to be placed in the beginning choir, year after year, so they stayed in a different class, and while I knew them, I wasn't able to share the same experiences with them. In my mind, warped by a depressed self esteem, I was sure that I saw pity in their eyes, instead of friendship after that first year.Who really wants to hang around people that constantly remind you, by there mere presence, that they are better than you at something you really thought you were good at?

As I mentioned, I had some guy friends (M1 and M2) from my neighborhood and I was closer to them than anyone else at the time. I figured as long as I had my little group, I was ok. And really, I was, until the summer after my sophomore year. M1 was killed in a car accident while taking a different friend to visit family in OKC. I was completely devastated and I couldn't even stand to hang out with M2 anymore. It hurt too much to be reminded of the third part of our trio that would never be there again. M1 was an only child and hadn't been at school for almost a year before that (he was dealing with his own issues and was in and out of rehab for a lot of the time) so there weren't a lot of people who knew about what happened or who might understand. When I started back to school the next year, I felt broken and even lonelier than before.

I know that part of it was my fault. I was not a very nice person or a good friend to have at the time. Because of where and how I grew up, I had no clue how to act in a large group or how to be friends with "normal" people. I never considered my self even close to normal. (Now, I understand that "Normal" is nothing more than a setting on the dryer. Back then, though, it seemed a fitting descriptor for everyone else, but me.)

I also know a large part of my lack of popularity was my undying devotion to my boyfriend at the time. Clinging to a relationship from "before" helped me connect my new life with my old. It wasn't a very healthy relationship for me, though, and I'm sure many of the people around just didn't have the patience to put up with me. He refused to socialize with my friends and he also took up every single weekend since we didn't have the chance to see each other during the week. I was with him for three and a half years - until after my Junior year - so I didn't socialize or date very much. Even after that, I had a really hard time trying to make new friends. I'm pretty sure by then people thought of me as a flake already, anyway.

I'm not saying high school was terrible for me. I have found lots of pictures of me smiling, and there were other people in those photos with me, so I have to believe that other people were friendly with me. I know one of the reasons I don't remember much is due to the illnesses I have been dealing with over the last few years. Deep emotional trauma, such as the death of a close friend or the breakup of your parents, can leave hole in your memory. I do remember many wonderful people, and I am looking forward to seeing them tonight. There were quite a few that were willing to extend the arm of friendship in spite of my weirdness. I hope they will forgive my lack of clarity over the past and that the few memories I have will suffice.

My life since high school has been such an incredible whirlwind. The things I felt back then that would shake my world are nothing more than slight nuisance to me. The amazing experiences and relationships that have been created with my family tend to crowd out the details of things that happened before them. For instance, I remember being at a birthday party for Nickle, but I don't remember what year. We went to the roller rink and had a sleepover afterward. I fell asleep first and they put mustard on my face, but then they wiped it off so that it wouldn't stain the pillow case. I can't remember anyone else who was at that party other than Nickle and myself.

I remember the choir camp at SFA where I shared a room with Dav and we stayed up later than we should have "girl talking" but don't remember what we talked about (although it might have been about the red-headed Tenor.) I have a faint memory of walking across campus after dinner and hearing a girl (probably from another school) play guitar and sing to a group of other girls. I also remember getting goosebumps from listening to Mozart's Requiem. It is still one of my favorite pieces of music ever.

I think my favorite/most embarrassing memory was from Nat's Birthday party.  I was actually single at the time and I was trying desperately to figure out how to be cool in public. There were wine coolers, but I only had one. (If I really wanted to drink, I felt could do so anytime I wanted at home, but I really had no desire, so one light drink was enough for me.) Maybe it was the wine cooler, or maybe my psycho was showing, but for some reason I was suddenly and uncontrollably paranoid and freaked out. Then it just went away and I know everyone thought I was being a freak. (No one asked me to leave, though, so I guess it wasn't THAT bad.) Then later I was playing Truth or Dare and I was dared to kiss Sha. (How could a gay guy kiss so much better than any straight guy I knew!?!?)  And then, completely separate of the game, I was dared to kiss Kel to play a joke on someone else. THAT was a real eye opener too, let me tell you. (Thanks to you, Kel, I spent the next three years kissing girls.)

I remember the 4th of July parties several years in a row at Kel's. One where I was single, but completely heartbroken over BB, and he was there with his girlfriend, and I walked in on them making out. The next year when I was pregnant with LH. I had just come back from a trip to Europe and I was starting to have pre-term labor, but I still hung out all night and watched movies (and was admitted to the hospital the next day and spent the six weeks after that on complete bed rest.)

I did have one very close friend during high school. She was so wonderful from the very beginning and put up with so much crap from me and she still stuck around. I loved her then with all my heart, and I still miss her quite a bit. It is my fault we don't speak anymore. I did some terrible things and I lied to her. I paid the price for my betrayal and dishonesty in more ways than she will ever know. She left and won't speak to me and refuses to even let me mention our past friendship in public. I don't blame her. I don't know if she will be there tonight, but if she is I have no idea what or if I will say anything. I'm sure she still hates me so I guess it is better if I just let her be.

I guess none of this is any more bizarre than anyone else. Okay, maybe it is a little weirder than the "normal" people would experience, but as I said Normal doesn't really apply. I may have grown and changed a lot from High School days, but when I think about it there were more pleasant experiences than I had originally thought. Besides, I think the point of a reunion is more to get in touch with old friends so that you can connect in new ways. If everyone was exactly the same as they were 15 years ago, I don't think it would be much fun. I have a feeling that we have all changed a little, at least in the last five years so, maybe I can put my self consciousness aside for awhile and talk to the people in front of me instead of to the memories from 15 years ago.

"Little" Debbie

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