Saturday, May 3, 2008

High School Musical Chairs

In my last entry, I loudly complained how hard it would be to keep up with this thing! That was nearly two months ago! Between business ramping up for the season, focusing my political writings on a forum, and actually doing some of the household work needed, the blog becomes a low priority. There is an arm's length list of items to cover on both logs over the last two months, so I will try to catch up with both. Look for some barbershop harmony stuff over at Ramble Notes.

I had pretty much cut all ties with my hometown of Piedmont, CA. That was a tough time for me, I probably took the concept of adolescent awkwardness to a new extreme. And I was just as happy to "run away" from the painful memories. But as they say, you can run, but you never can truly hide. One attempts to reinvent one's self, and to some extent that does work. Maybe that is the fuel that ignites the desire to succeed, the desire to work harder and "prove them wrong". But maybe it is more important to prove one's self "wrong", or at least wrong-headed about the past.

A few months ago, I was contacted by maybe the one person I could say was a true friend in that era. Rob and I ran cross country together, played in band together, sat in his room listening to Monty Python albums together. After high school, he went off to college, I stayed in town and in junior college. He went off to start a beautiful family, I remained single. We sort of went our separate ways.

But after about 20 years, I receive an e-mail note from him, titled "Long ago in a far away galaxy", and an apology for being a "slacker" and not staying in touch. I had spent so much energy trying to run from the past, I could hardly believe that someone actually wanted to contact me! WOW!

So Rob and I began an exchange of e-mail notes, catching up on family, work, the impending marriage of his daughter and the running success of his son. I hadn't seen him in twenty years and he invited me to his daughter's wedding!!!! DOUBLE WOW! Unfortunately, the schedule did not permit my attending, but we have vowed to get together and chat about old times, etc.

Here came the real whammy. Rob forwarded the notice about our high school's 30 year reunion. Twenty years ago, the Ten Year reunion, there was still no shortage of pain from the past, so in attending, old wounds did get reopened, even if unintentionally and certainly not by anyone but me. Hence, the desire for the complete break with the past.

In our cyber-age, informational things get accomplished so easily. As a part of the reunion planning process, one of my classmates had set up a Yahoo Group to help plan and do some preliminary communication. So, of course, I joined to get in the loop. I cannot tell you how good it felt for the host/moderator to offer me a warm welcome to the group. We had been sort-of friends in the day, both in music and drama together, but not exactly close mates. But the notes I have been trading with him revealed that he, too, had the same sort of insecurities I had, the same desire and need to make peace with the past and forgive all the pain of that time.

Over the last couple weeks, I have had to take a good long hard look in the psychological mirror, and ask myself just what was going on back then. Of course, one can't change one's past, one can only accept it for what it was. Maybe now that I am stronger, I can look at the past and filter out the pain and just see the good. Maybe the feelings I felt back then were not nearly as drastic as I wanted to make them. Maybe, despite the chip on my shoulder and the feelings of complete inadequacy, people did like me. Or maybe they wanted to like me, but I had such a hard heart and big walls around me that I never allowed people to reach out to me. I was so damn desperately seeking approval that I never allowed myself to accept the friendship and acceptance that was mine for the taking. (whew, I am choked and tearing up as I write this. Probably the "heaviest" entry to date.)

Well, after refilling my cup, scanning in and inserting my senior photo, the tightness in my throat has subsided. That "Scrooge-like" visit with the ghost of the past hurt, but also was revealing to me. As I had said in the earliest entries to this web-log, things kind of come out, the post "writes itself" if one just opens up and lets the words flow. And true to my concept, save for spelling and obvious grammar issues, I am not going to edit for content. It's out there in the open, the soul has been bared, and there is that catharsis in putting it out there.

I am excited as can be about the upcoming reunion. Twenty years ago, I attended with the attitude of "look at me now". But in a couple of months, I am going to attend with the attitude of "I want to look at you now". Twenty, thirty years is a long time. At our souls we are the same people we will always be. But in how we look at the world, and how we react to it, we can change, and hopefully for the better.

As long as I get my act together and keep up with the posts, I will happily report back from the reunion in July!

1 comment:

Laura said...

Hi! I was looking at high school reunion blog entries through google's blog search. I just wanted to say that I hadn't even thought of going with the attitude of "where are you now?" instead of focusing on my achievements. What a great thought though. I will be keeping that in mind.