Recently Z asked me if I wanted to go back in time and relive high school again. I felt like the question came out of left field. Who in their right minds would ever want to be a teenager again? You know the amazing “It Gets Better” campaign reaching out to suicidal gay teens? I think all teenagers, regardless of their sexual orientation should be listening. My high school experience was pretty happy all things considered, but I still would have taken a lot of comfort in hearing it does get better. I told him no way in hell. He then asked me if I’d do anything differently knowing what I know now. Part of me would want to make changes. I would try and be kinder and clearer with my intentions, and I would take back a few huge mistakes that fill me with shame. But when I think more about it I know I wouldn’t change a single thing. My choices led me to Z and if I could make changes I might not have ended up at Swing 46 with my sister and my high school friend Kevin the night of June 14, 1998 when Kev’s roommate Z unexpectedly showed up and asked me to dance.
Z asked me the question because I have been talking about high school a lot lately. It’s facebook’s fault. Before I reconnected with a lot of Robinson Rams on FB it didn’t feel like I had a big gaping hole in my life. I’m not the high school reunion type. A few years ago the only people I had relationships with from high school were my sister, my best friend, and Kev and that was just fine with me. Then about two years ago Kevin posted some pictures from school and a frenzy of friending among those of us who were disciples of Mr. Rome the drama teacher began. And over the last two years I have discovered I want to know these people. Some of the people I knew casually have grown into people I sincerely like so much as adults. Some of the kids I looked up to so much back then still create that response in me today. The bottom line is a lot of these people enrich my life so much now, and I think it is damn cool.
I moved around a lot before high school. From kindergarten to 8th grade I attended 8 schools. I went to 4th grade across the street from my high school and there I met one of my favorite people in the world. Four years and 3 moves later when we re-met in 8th grade he didn’t remember me at all, but as the perpetual new girl I was thrilled to realize I had a history with someone, even if I was the only one who remembered it. We forged a friendship and now all these years later we correspond regularly. He is friends with my husband on FB, and I am friends with his wife although we he haven't met each other's spouses or seen each other in 15 years. Out of the blue last spring he gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received in my life. I feel like the world is a better place because he is in it, and I feel privileged to call him a friend.
There’s another gal who I didn’t know well at all in school, but now all these years later we have so much in common it is just strange, right down to the dishes we have in our kitchens. If we lived closer I could see our families spending a lot of time getting into trouble together. I feel the same way about another gal, though the specifics are different. Kev got to meet her for coffee when he was back in NOVA recently and I was positively green with envy when I heard about it.
There’s the woman who is friends with my cousin and his wife because this is such a crazy small world. I was lucky enough to see her January, and I would love to see her again. A woman who scared the bejesus out of me with her confidence and popularity back when we were girls has become a friend much to my surprise and now delight. A boy I was sure I was in love with when I was 14 wanted my feedback when he started a blog. A teddy bear of a guy I once knew has only gotten more adorable. I now desperately want to go to DC and get a drink with him so he can crack me up with his acerbic wit. My high school sweetheart, oh I am so grateful I get a peek into his life. The beauty who lives in Austin, the sassy gal who lives in MD, the heartthrob who lives in NYC, the friend who's whole family is dressing as Harry Potter characters for Halloween, the gal who is advocating for the arts in SC, the masseuse in Chicago I still wish I knew better, I’m forgetting tons of people I care about but the message is the same. I’m grateful each and every one of them is back in my life.
Last weekend I read a status update from someone I liked so much in high school that the word “like” doesn’t seem to cover it. I looked up to her, wanted to be like her, wanted to be worthy of her liking me. She was and is a talented artist, which was enough to fascinate me, but even more importantly she was kind. Kind. Now that is a rarity in adults, let alone teenagers. So I emailed her and told her exactly what I thought of her. It felt really good to be honest and to say something nice that I meant from the bottom of my heart. We have been corresponding back and forth and it makes me so happy to learn more about her. Last night I was discussing this on the phone with Kev. And I just felt lucky. Lucky to get to know these people who used to be such a huge part of my life. Lucky that I will see my best friend in a few weeks and I know we will make each other laugh as hard as hard as we did in 1991. And most of all lucky to have Kevin, a friend who I am fiercely protective about, who I love as much as family, who I feel so proud of because I knew him when he was 16 and he has become a man that anyone would be lucky to have in their lives.
So thank you Robinson Drama Department, for bringing all these awesome people into my life. And as corny as it is, I encourage all of you to send a crazy “I like you” email to someone from your past. It is really worth it.
Thanks Uncle A and Aunt B (perhaps my favorite Robinson Ram ever) for the awesome hat!