Sometime this year my 20th reunion will be held. I've not gone back since graduating, and it's only been in the past couple of years that I've even begun reconnecting with a very few classmates. Those years were very hard. It was a combination of being shy, being thrust into public schools for the first time ever from very rigid and conservative Christian schools, and not knowing anyone in this close-knit town. Add to that the fact that I didn't know how to make friends and was dealing with all the effects of what had pretty much been pounded into my compliant, sponge-like brain by a few select teachers and chapel speakers, and I was set up to fail in the social department. Combine that with a few kids who thought it would be fun to physically torment the short, scrawny redhead and a messed up church situation, and you definitely have a recipe for a disastrous high school experience.
So it's no wonder that I'd want to avoid the kids who once lit my hair on fire, beat me up in gym class, tripped me and laughed like hyenas while my books scattered, and collected $37.52 on the school bus for a boy who was dared to kiss me. But here's the crazy thing.
I'm contemplating, with excitement actually, the possibility of going back.
Crazy, I know.
But I'm looking at it like this. It's been 20 years. In 20 years, I've discovered that some of my Christian school teachers were well-intentioned but pretty much dead wrong. Public high schools have a lot to offer that the Christian schools of my growing up years simply couldn't afford. Other kids back then felt just as backward and awkward as I did, albeit for different reasons. My focus was much too self-absorbed and I missed a lot. We've all grown up, lived life, gained and lost, celebrated and mourned, and become just a bit more aware of the humanity around us. Some of us have even found a deep faith, making our lives markedly different from what they looked like in high school. Others of us have discovered that margaritas can be good things. And yes, there are some of us who probably will still be prone to posturing for attention, acting out our pride or insecurities, and who still don't know when to quit drinking.
But for the most part, we aren't the same kids who left those tiger striped halls. So I'm looking at it like meeting a bunch of people all over again for the first time. No longer am I that short, little girl who locked herself in a bathroom stall until she could safely get to the principal's office to ask for help. I'm now someone who has defended the helpless, helped the bullies find redemption and new purpose, and has discovered oodles of gifts in this 5'1" frame. And one of those gifts just happens to be the enjoyment of spending time with people.
So I hope to be able to go. In the meantime, it's been interesting to walk back to that shy redhead and tell her that there were definitely better days ahead.