Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Way We Were

Teaching in a high school gives me a rare perspective of aging; I can see where I've been, when I am going, and often, I get a glimpse of what I must look like to my students. A few years ago, one of my female students rolled her eyes at me and said, "Ms. P, you have NO idea what it's like to be a kid." And while a piece of me secretly congratulated myself on appearing so together that this student thought I was a mature, well-adjusted adult (HA - she didn't see the package of Swedish Fish I was planning to eat for breakfast in my purse) another piece of me looked back at my high school days and the way things seemed back then, and the images we all project now.

I was lucky. For some, high school is a battlefield, one whose scars last longer than the battle itself. But I loved high school. I loved my friends, I loved being a cheerleader, I loved finding my way through those years with a combination of teenage trepidation and bravado. I loved taking my first steps into adulthood and falling flat on my face (literally and figuratively - I tripped down the stairs and fell on my chin in front of my football player crush. Well, one of them.) As an only child, I loved the closeness of our class, and the way my friends became family. I would like to think I was kind and fair most of the time, though I know I wasn't always, but whether running from the cops at Florence Park, swaying on the gym floor at one of the dances, cheering on the sidelines, or navigating our first heartbreaks and heals, we seemed to have fun all the time. 

Going to my reunion last night was as fun and exciting as high school was, and connecting (or re-connecting) felt easy and fun. The faces looked the same (although the nametags helped!), and warmth and hilarity was still underlying most of the conversations. As kids, 25 years ago, there was no way to tell that we would still be friends, or even want to, but as the night wore on, we broke off into groups, shared stories, reminisced, moved around and started all over again. There were tears of laughter, old jokes revisited, and photos taken again and again. Sure, parenthood and life in general had changed us, but not in the ways that mattered; we still have a lot to laugh about. And what stories we'll have to share with our kids - if they are lucky.

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