I was reminded the other day as I was driving into Elk Grove that Friday was homecoming. Wow, that's a blast from the past. High school. Homecoming. Football games, dances, homework, lunch with friends, being a nerd....
I am still friends with the vast majority of my high school friends. I guess I can credit social networking for some of that, but many of my high school friends are people I have known since elementary school, and I guess when you've been friends that long you stick together. Or you're stuck with each other, take your pick. ;-) I'm even still in touch with a handful of teachers. Thank you Facebook for that, but I stayed in touch with a few anyway. I have to say I've had a lot of really great teachers in my life, people I'm really grateful to still know in some way.
Would you believe I hated school? I really did, and I was a straight-A student. It seemed like it was endless homework and social angst. And the homework was stuff that seemed pointless, things I'd never need to know (and no, I mostly haven't needed to know). Everyone told me I'd love college. I didn't believe that when I was in high school. But you know what, I did love college. Because I could take the classes I wanted, focus on what I wanted, and for the most part skip all the other crap except for those pesky general ed requirements.
I was kind of a nerd in high school. I say "kind of" because I wasn't part of the official "nerd" group. There was a group. Did they know that's who they were? I suppose so. There were lots of groups, and everyone had their own little spot. The cowboys in the corner (I'm told there are no more cowboys, that is tragic), the jocks and cool girls over there, band and drama people around the corner, were the skaters there with them too? And my little group of friends, well, we went where we could. We were the normal people, I would say, the ones without a clear cut identity that would have relegated us to some part of the quad. We staked out a little patch of land at lunch time. It was next to the cowboys. I didn't hang with the cowboys because my friends didn't, but I knew many of them. I could venture into their territory unscathed. And then winter came and it started raining and my little band of not-quite-nerds didn't know where to go. We had no territory in the cafeteria, those tables had all been claimed. We sat in front of the gym for a while, under cover, but it was cold. Eventually, and I don't remember how it happened, we all relocated into Ms. L's classroom. Bless her for that, I don't know if she knows how much that meant. That became "home" and I know it wasn't just for my immediate friends, there were other little groups that ate lunch in there too, and we kept going back even after we were no longer in that grade level.
You know the only thing I miss about high school... getting to see my friends on a regular basis. It's harder now, we have lives and work and obligations and an increasingly large number of my friends have babies. But back then we were just a bunch of smart and somewhat socially awkward kids who had known each other for years and we spent our lunch talking about... what we did we talk about? I don't even know. Boys, I guess.
I really didn't get involved in school until my senior year. I'm not sure why. Too busy? Too shy? I went to all the football games my senior year, though that's largely because I had a massively huge and futile crush on one of the football players, and I had this notion that if I went to all the games he'd be so moved by my dedication and devotion that surely he'd want to take me to prom. Surely. Well, he didn't, even though I asked him. I did go to prom, actually that was my first date. I went with a friend who I had known since I was 6 years old, and that's pretty special, I'm kinda glad it all worked out that way. I wish we kept in touch better. I wonder if he still reads this?
I got involved with homecoming my senior year. I helped out with the float. I still remember going to this huge warehouse in the evenings and wadding tissue paper into "flowers" and taping that through the chicken wire frame. It felt good to be involved. I rode on the spirit truck in the parade, wearing my senior t-shirt and waving at everyone on the sidewalk. I even played powderpuff football my senior year. Of course I absolutely suck at sports and can't throw/catch/kick to save my life, so it's not like I was a star or probably even spent much time on the field but I was IN it. I had the jersey, the braids, did we do face paint? I remember getting interviewed by the principal for some award my senior year and she asked what was the most rewarding thing I'd done and I said play powderpuff, and she looked incredulous and said I was the third person who'd said that, and I was like "well yeah, because we've been these nose-to-the-book nerds the last four years, it's the first time any of us have DONE anything." Well, I didn't really say that. I was probably shaking in my shoes, and said something about how it was the first time I'd gotten involved, and I wondered why I hadn't done that sooner.
The high school I went to was the only one in town back then, at least until my sophomore (junior?) year. Now there are at least five I think. Times have changed, the people have changed, the school has grown. But the football games and the stupid crushes and teenage drama and the endless stupid homework and the marching band (geez I love the sound of a marching band) and proms and the homecoming parade is all still there. And even though there are a few things that make me a little nostalgic for those days, I'm glad I'm not living that part of my life anymore. I wouldn't mind getting dolled up for prom again though, I'd just have to find a date! ;-)