I have realized a few things as I have begun to age over the years.
One: adult onset acne is a cruel and unusual plague that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
Two: I will think about life in semesters no matter how long I am out of school.
And three: my Mom was usually right when giving me advice in high-school.
You know when you would wail to your parents about the traumas of adolescence and they would calmly, if not compassionately, tell you things like “One day you’ll look back on this and laugh” or my all-time favorite, “They are just jealous of you”. It made you want to punch them right in their smug little faces. No they are not jealous of me! They realize the complete turd/fraud/incurably hideous person I am and are calling me out lest I ever forget it!
Gah Mom, you’re such an IDIOT!
Well, my apologies, Megaloo. Turns out, you were right. Turns out that most people in high-school are mean because we are all freaked out that we were hideous fraudulent turds, and that the only way to distract our peers from figuring that out is to accuse others of our own shortcomings. Sort of the “whoever smelt it dealt it” theory of social interaction. Also, as it turns out, most of us grow out of this and become pretty decent human beings, and yes, we do look back on those days and laugh, and maybe cringe a little bit.
This is, I believe, the root of that other parental-ism that can send any emo 16 year old straight to their trusty Dashboard Confessional collection:
“These are the best days of your life”.
I truly pity anyone whose teens were their best years. I think what parents really mean when they say this is:
“If I could go back to high-school and do it again knowing what I know now, it would be the best time of my life”.
And just this past weekend, for about 18 hours, I got to do just that.
My (almost) alma matter in Connecticut benevolently extended an invitation to attend my 5 year reunion this past weekend on the campus in the Happy Valley Land. Although I had some misgivings being that I had a particularly cringe-inducing, angsty high-school experience, I decided that as usual the Fun here was on the other side of YES and booked a ticket for myself, and after some convincing, signed Pedro up as well. After two days in NYC catching up with my lovelies (that could be a whole post in itself) Pete and I headed north Saturday morning.
It was a drizzly, foggy morning and I almost made Pete tell the driver to turn around twice, what was I thinking bringing this amazing man who actually wants to marry me back to the scene of the majority of my crimes!? Luckily, I had packed myself my own personal botella of Champiggly anticipating just this situation, and we trudged on.
Pulling up to the gates was superrrr trippy, I have been back to the campus since I, ahem, left the school. Each time on a roadtrip to show a friend the school itself, but I never saw anyone I had actually known there. This would be a different, a full on time warp, and suddenly I felt like a hideous turdy 18 year old all over again. We walked up towards the Senior Sandbox (patio/gathering area and angst headquarters of 2001-2002) and were greeted by a wholly different scene than I had remembered. This is what the sandbox was like when I went there.
And this is what the sandbox was like this past weekend.
…Outside Sandbox 2003…
…And Outside Sandbox 2009…
The rest of the day was pretty much the same. Same people, same place, entirely different experience. I am sure the alcohol helped, but everyone was so nice and fun and excited to be there. We spent the afternoon out in the rain playing beer pong and wiffleball (we are such athletes) before getting dressed for formal dinner and the dance…ohh my gosh just typing that makes me feel like a wee babe of only 15.
Court and I in the hallway of MDS 2002…
…Court and I in the hallway of MDS 2009…
Ladies before Formal Dinner 2003…
I feel like the pictures sum up the evening better than I could…
Pete and I snuck off pretty early in the evening, we are old people and just don’t seem to have the stamina for an all night rager like we used to. In what was possibly the worst sleep of my life, Pete somehow finagled the bottom bunk, the sole airplane pillow and prison sheet we had been rationed, while I got the top bunk and a towel.
The next morning we went into town to get my beloved sandwich from the Kent Market- now the General Store (ohh lala how fancy!) before heading back to Chicago.
I think the main think I took away from this weekend besides some great new memories with old friends, is that people don’t get over high-school sometimes not because the trauma or the joy of the experience is too great to get past. I think, for me at least, I just wish I could go back knowing what I know now. I wish we all could have realized how lucky we were to be around 200 people our age that we had enough in common with to end up at a boarding school in the middle of nowhere together. The real world doesn’t provide you with hundreds of peers to choose from. I wish we could have all been nicer to each other and less critical of ourselves. I don’t really wish not to have made the mistakes we made, that’s part of growing up, but I wish we had been more forgiving of each other while we were making those mistakes. Ok, now I sound like Mr. Rogers, but…
If you made it through highschool with out these regrets, regardless of what senior superlatives you got, I think you did it right. I always wished I could go back and do it a bit differently, but after this weekend I definitely don’t have any regrets.
Congrats to the Class of 2004 on everything over the past 5 years!!