Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Friday, June 27, 2008

Twenty Years

This whole week The Fictionistas have been doing a "I wish I'd known then" Week - talking about things they wish they'd known when they were younger. Thinking about the things they've said brought to mind my own past self and life in tiny-town Michigan.

I grew up about a mile from Atlas - population 411 (at the time - it's bigger now), but I didn't think of it that way. Instead I told everyone I was from Goodrich. I did this mostly because no one ever heard of Atlas, even in the nearby towns, and because everything we did was done in Goodrich - shopping, banking, socializing... and schooling.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the last time I set foot inside the walls of Goodrich High School. Home of the Martians. Not little green men - little followers of the god Mars. Formerly Goodrich Agricultural School, and since Mars was the god of war and of agriculture he seemed like the perfect guy to use. *shrug* And here I go digressing again...

Anyway, they should be trying to find me shortly to send an invite to the ol' 20th class reunion dealie-bob. :waves: Hi guys. Good luck with all that. I got married and moved far far away. Since my mother also moved, you can't find me there either.

Not a huge loss for any of us, I imagine. I wasn't as popular as Rhonda or Josh. I wasn't as athletic as Becky or Perry. I was a band nerd, and a brainiac, and one of the silent forgotten who roamed the halls of GHS. Years later, I learned from one of our classmates that you thought I was a snob. *shrug* I wasn't. I was just a kid trying to show how little you hurt her by acting like none of you mattered.

Thinking about it all now, I really wish it hadn't been an act. Looking back with the clarity of hindsight, I know in the grand scheme of life, you really didn't matter. Or rather, you shouldn't have. All those things we said and did to each other two decades ago really haven't made a difference in our lives. Sure, Russell married Jenny, and last I heard they're a happy family with 2.4 kids. They made a difference to each other, obviously, but most of us have moved away and moved on.

I did go to my ten-year reunion. It was... Well, let's just say it was fun and awkward and a travesty rolled into one short package. It was great seeing my old friends, but that was all they were. Re-connection failed. Abort abort abort. Two of my best friends from high school had moved on, and so had I. With nothing in common any more, I don't know why I expected we could pick up where we left off. Not that I didn't try, but Maria knew something I didn't. You can't go back. She never returned my call, and I guess that was for the best. A Catholic-school teacher and me would have nothing in common but memories, and you can't live in the past. (Even if you like to visit it every now and again.)

Needless to say, I won't be attending the 20th. Ten years changes people - or it should - and as changed as I was at the last reunion, double that. I still look the same, with maybe a few more gray hairs and the beginnings of wrinkles, but that's about it. I'm not the chick who, when our gang was picking nicknames, chose to be called Bruno. I haven't touched my flute since 1998, when I hocked it. I no longer listen to Poison or Bon Jovi or Faster Pussycat. I don't wear my pants tucked into my socks, ripped jeans or too-tight tank tops any more.

Looking back at the girl I used to be, I can only hang my head and grieve for all the pain she allowed herself to feel. If I could go back, though, I don't know that I really have any advice for her. All the things she was and all the events that took place in her life, they shaped her, and eventually made her into the woman I am today. Maybe if I didn't go through those trials, I wouldn't be a writer today. Maybe if everything had been happy-happy, joy-joy then, I would still be in Goodrich, living in the house where I grew up and shopping at Rankins every week without a thought of what might exist beyond the boundaries of Atlas Township.


If you could go back, would you? Or if you did, what would you change? What advice would you give to the younger version of you?


1 comment:

JenWriter said...

Next May will be my 10th year reunion. I plan on going, but I expect nothing but surreal and awkward moments with nothing to say to any of those high school buds I last saw in 1999.

I've changed a lot, both physically and emotionally. Instead of the awkward, bumbling, shy and weird girl of 17, I've finally grown into my skin and feel confident of who I am and what I want out of life. I might still be weird and sometimes shy, but I'm no longer awkward and bumbling about it. I am who I am. I wish I'd known all of that then, but I don't think there's any way I could explain to my 17 year old self how to be confident. She needed to learn and experience things on her own to get to where I am now.

After all this talk, I've gotta go watch Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion!