Who Are All These Old People At My High School Reunion??

It doesn’t seem possible it’s been 30 (GULP!) YEARS! since I and a hundred+ others made our exit from high school. C’mon! How can this be? I remember my PARENTS (and they were totally ancient then) planning their 25th reunion, from the same high school I might add. This can’t possibly be happening to me, to us, my classmates of yore.

I hear myself using the phrase ‘back in the day’ a lot lately. I don’t like that, no, sir. I don’t like that one bit! Excuse me a moment, “Hey, you kids! Get outta my yard!” Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, Thirty Years High School Reunion.

I have to say that I really loved school. It was small and, as mentioned, we only had a little over a hundred in our graduating class. The even cooler part was I’d known most of those people since kindergarten. I remember my first day very well. My big brother walked me to the door of Mrs. Lacey’s classroom before heading off to his own homeroom. See, Mom, we didn’t ALWAYS fight. As I stepped into the door I saw one of my best friends, a boy named Tom. What a relief! His mom had been my baby sitter for the past couple years. Tom was also the only boy out of the three at the sitter who managed to escape being chased down, pinned to the ground, and kissed by yours truly. I was a bit boy crazy even as a five-year-old apparently.

Luckily, Tom did not spring to his feet and run when he saw me coming that time. I went over to where he sat on the floor playing with some rubber animals in a toy box. I distinctly remember the giraffe for some reason. Oddly, my only other clear memory of kindergarten also involves a boy I kissed. This was Gregory. I wonder if he remembers? We sealed our love with a kiss behind the mobile bookcase just prior to heading to the playground for recess. Ah, Gregory, where are you now? Sadly, Gregory and his family moved away and we didn’t make it to 1984 together.

Apparently I wasn’t too heartbroken as I found my next boyfriend, David, quickly enough. In the grand scheme of things it was looking pretty good for David and I. We were ‘an item’ from First to Third grade and then again in Fifth. Fourth grade took me temporarily away from my known friends and into the realm of strangers. Back then there were two elementary schools and I was given the option of spending that year in the other one. Best decision I ever made as an exiting third grader! I made some pretty awesome new friends! If they are reading this they know who they are. (Sherry, Jay, DeRue)

The building I know as the middle school was the high school back in my parents’ day. I tried to be athletic during those four years. I joined the girls’ softball team. I remember playing basketball on a four person team, David (yes, THAT same David), Ted, Ruth and I. I gave tennis a shot. I head-butted Rob off the top off a pile of snow while playing “King Of The Mountain” during recess and got in trouble for calling him an a-hole. Oops! These were also the days that saw the most hideous school picture ever known to man. Let’s not even go beyond that confession. Middle school saw me leave behind my dear David for ‘the new kid’, Steve.

I began my freshman year of high school in September 1979. Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” premiered that year, The Knack’s, “My Sharrona” was topping the charts, and President Carter was attacked by a rabbit while on a canoe trip in Plains, Georgia. Of course, all I can envision now is the killer rabbit from Monty Python’s “Quest for the Holy Grail”. I was, still am, a big Monty Python fan. It cost 15 cents to mail a First Class letter and gas was a whopping 86 cents per gallon. It was during this period I had it pounded into my head to turn off the light when you leave a room, “There’s an energy crisis going on, you know?” Um, okay, Dad, whatever you say.

I wasn’t popular in high school, but I don’t think I was scorned either. I was weird. I was kinda proud of my weirdness. I was goth before goth was goth, I guess you could say. I wore black, a lot! My fingernails were painted black. Black eyeliner was about the only make-up I ever wore. My friends were into punk rock. My friends were nerds. My friends were football players and cheerleaders. I only recently learned I was considered a bit of nerd, too. I’m still not sure how I feel about that label. I read a lot, but I was by no means uber smart, though my IQ said otherwise, which my guidance counselor was quick to point out to me. Hell, I barely passed basic algebra. I was just me and if me wasn’t good enough for others to be around, I took no offense.

Before I knew it, it was 1984 and I was donning a dress, high heels and a white cap and gown. What happened? When did I suddenly become a senior? What was I going to do with my life now? I had no plans for college. My only plan was a trip to England later than year. Pomp and Circumstance played, we did our walk, we got our diplomas and we threw our caps into the air. WWwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Then BAM!!! here we are, thirty years later! I swear to God I don’t remember that much time passing and they say it only gets worse. I really don’t even want to think about how fast the next thirty years are going to go by. How is it possible my ‘baby’ is 21 when I JUST graduated from high school??

At a previous reunion, maybe it was our 10th, a classmate that I considered more of an acquaintance than a friend came up to me and said something very profound, something that brings a tear to my eye when I think about it. She told me how much she admired me in high school. I was stunned and must have looked as much. She went on to explain how she always thought it was so cool how I didn’t do what everyone else was doing back then, that I was true to myself and who I was. She said she never had the nerve to do that. Wow, and this was from one of the Popular Girls! WHA??

In just over two weeks we’ll all be gathering again to do some catching up. There are people I am looking forward to seeing and others maybe not quite so much. There are those I wish could be there, who won’t be. We’re getting a tour of the middle school this time around which will be awesome. Sadly, we’ve already lost some of our classmates, but we will carry on in their memory and honor them with stories in some small way.

Thirty years, sheesh. Unbelievable!

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I Blame Holly Hobby

It began with a little blue and white checkered book with a picture of Holly Hobby on the front. It was January 1977 and I had just turned eleven years old the previous December. I have no idea who bought me that diary, I suspect my Nana Jean, but, regardless, whoever it was, they started me down the long road to journaling, and maybe even lit the spark of my dreams of being a writer.

Holly Hobby saw me through a lot that year. Oh, sure, a lot of the pages are blank, but that little 4 X 5 inch book brought me a lot of joy and helped me share with my future by holding on to the past in my sometimes less than legible handwriting. My grandfather died that year. With a newly sharpened pencil in hand, I cried on those pages that night as I would later cry at Papa Milo’s funeral. His very sudden death was the first beloved human one that I knew. I remember hating every minute of that day, sitting at the back of the room with my cousins and brother, looking at the open casket and thinking how the man inside it had only weeks ago been mowing hayfields, smoking from his cherry tobacco-filled pipe, or trying to teach me how to count in Italian. I remember my parents trying to get me to go to the front of that dreaded, horrible room and say ‘Good bye’ and the way I threw a fit, refusing to do so. My long, hot, summer days on Nana and Papa’s farm were over, gone, done, forever.

Good things happened in 1977, too. I’d made a new best friend the previous fall when I started the fourth grade at Nathan T. Hall School in Newark Valley, NY. In fact, I made a couple new friends that year, friends that would not only see me through 1977, but would remain friends through middle school and senior high, all the way to graduation and to this day! And, in the fall of 1977, when we all started Fifth Grade, I was able to get back together with the boyfriend I’d had in Third Grade. All this, and more, as sketchy and poorly written as it may be, is all documented and kept safe by little Holly Hobby to this day.

Holly has a lot of Diary Friends in that big cardboard box, mind you. I’ve saved them all. I’ve kept them intact, neatly together, waiting for someday when my kids will pull the boxes from their hiding place and find out more about their mother than they will probably ever want to really know.

1978, 1979, 1980… one by one documented in long hand. Each year my journal-keeping habit grew more, well, habitual, more detailed, more part of my identity. My parents caught on pretty quick that I was taking this diary thing pretty seriously. For years they would order a journal for me, matching dark brown covers with the year stamped in gold on the spine and front, all in a row. My life was becoming a library all its own. Every night, almost without fail, I’d take up my pen and write down the thoughts and events of the day.

Through those high school years, through my first trip abroad, the first time I made love at a bed and breakfast in Southampton, England in 1985, through falling in love with the man who I would marry in September 1989, the diaries would continue. They would see me through. They would see my laughter and my tears. The details of the births of my son and daughter and the day we all moved to the big house in Spencer in 1995. My handwriting would record it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. The heart soaring and the heart breaking. As I struggled to make my marriage work through any means necessary, to accepting that fateful moment when the divorce papers were signed, sealed and delivered on July 26th 2011.

It’s all there, unedited and directly from the heart, tear stains and all. Not a single lie or imagining, just the truth, my dreams, my disappointments, my fears, my pain, my joy, my love, and my hopes even now for the future. Nothing is hidden for even as much as I can be myself, I think everyone has parts they want to be kept quiet, not so much secret but personal, there are still parts, thoughts, feelings, I like to keep special, almost to a sacred degree.

At some point I realized I was no longer able to write on a nightly basis. I could check, of course, but I’m going to have to guess it was when I entered my early 20s. Life got busy. Working full time, getting married, having kids, and keeping house left me too tired to write every night. I began writing weekly, Sunday nights, to be exact. It was my hour or so of quiet time. This is the time I still write in my journal. I do forget now and then and end up writing a few days later or at most, the following week, but I always do it. I always get my readers caught up on this grand autobiography eventually.

And now, I blog, well, I try to anyway. I don’t think I’m very successful at it. Honestly, I don’t think my day-to-day shenanigans are all that interesting to much of anyone but me or the very few people I may be having said shenanigans with. I read the blogs of others and always wonder, how are they making this seem so interesting and fun, and sometimes downright funny? I consider it a good day when I can manage to be clever on my Facebook update, let alone a Blogsworth of writing. I like that word. Blogsworth. A quick Google reveals I did not just invent it. Oh well.

So, don’t look here for any great revelations about my personal life. It isn’t going to happen. I’ll continue to not only post randomly, but on random topics that likely will have nothing to do with each other beyond the fact I wrote them. Little me, who will always feel that our inner thoughts and feelings, our little chats with the Divine within us, should not be seen or read by the public eye, but instead should be kept like that little Holly Hobby book, quietly, secretly tucked under the mattress of an eleven-year-old girl such as I was, who, even then, dreamed of being a writer.

At least now my handwriting is more legible, most of the time.