Thursday, August 24, 2006

School Days ...

Today was the first day of school. Summer is over. Fall is here.

Last Sunday, I sat with one of my nephews on his bed and flipped through his yearbook. His first yearbook. When I was in high school, we got our yearbooks at the end of the school year, which was good because we were able to have all our friends sign them when we should have been paying attention in class, but it was bad because all the end-of-the-year stuff wasn't included, so if you were a senior and you wanted a record of all that prom-y jazz, you had to buy the yearbook the following year.

But this school hands out yearbooks when you register for the next year of school. And so we were flipping through it. The design is impressive. But the thing that pleased me most were the pages upon pages of extracurricular activities.

So many schools are being forced to cut all their non-essential programs. But the school that will shape my nephews and niece has even more teams and groups and clubs than my school. So many opportunities, so many choices.

I dabbled in clubs when I was in high school. I didn't stick with most of them, except for speech and theater. Theater was voluntary. I was recruited into speech. It served me well, set me on a path that I tread to this day. High school wasn't a total waste.

My 20th high school reunion is coming up next year. This school year. It seems completely impossible that I've been out of high school nearly 20 years, that I've lived more life after high school than I lived before I graduated.

I didn't go to my 10-year reunion. The "can't find" list contained almost everyone I would have wanted to see. And when you're 27, 28, you're not so far removed from the bullshit. You're still trying to prove yourself. You're still a jock or a cheerleader or a geek at heart. Not that people really change, but we grow. With some life experience, with some perspective, we move beyond our inner cheerleader or geek or jock to a wider world view. We live in a world outside those locker-lined walls.

I didn't neatly fit into any real high-school niche. I identified with the punk kids (today they're called goth) with the wild hair and black clothes and stark makeup and the cool music. But I didn't decolorize my wardrobe until college. Well, technically, decolorizing would mean everything I wore was white. On the contrary, everything I wore was black. My wardrobe was actually oversaturated. It was the color of all colors. Black shirts, black pants, black skirts, black socks, black Ts (concert Ts, of course), black jackets, black coats, black sweatshirts. And hair that defied gravity, thanks to ozone-depleting Aqua-Net.

I got through high school as most of us do. And I fell in love with college, once I decided what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be. I miss the sociability of it, the chatty nature of the classes, getting together after class for coffee to continue our chats.

And then we graduate, our mission seemingly accomplished, and we get jobs. Which are social to a degree, but much less so.

I almost envy my niece and nephews. A new school year, new books, new school supplies - oh, school supplies! - new classes, new clothes. After-school snacks, homework at the kitchen table. I don't miss the classes I didn't care about. I don't miss the catty cliques. I don't miss fretting about tests.

But I would like, as Tom Hanks writes in "You've Got Mail," a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and fun stuff to hang in your locker...(pope on a stick :))

3:29 PM  
Blogger OneMan said...

Hey I was at our 10 year....

It was interesting to see how the folks you figured would be hanging at the bar were in fact hanging at the bar.

Also it was kind of surprising to see who was thrilled to see me.

You have to come to the 20 year, if for no other reason that meet Mrs. T.


12:53 PM  

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