To go or not to go?

There is no question for me at this point.  I’ve agonized for a few days and will do so no longer.  Too much time has been spent by me lingering in the past.  Time to move along.

The question refers to an upcoming class reunion, my 40th from high school.  I won’t be in attendance.  No one should take it personally.  I’m saddened by references on the reunion page to not being included with the cool kids, hating PE classes, etc., and was mortified when I actually posted a comment about my never being asked on dates.  The latter was my wake up call.  As one who spent 25 years teaching at the same high school I feel blessed to have seen it from an adult perspective.  And besides, if anyone has wanted/or does want to see me I’ve been here in town forever.  I have a presence on social media.  

Overall high school was a good experience for me.  I was a competent student, played on teams, and met many nice people.  And along with everyone else I had my heart broken and was betrayed by people who were supposedly my friends.  Our high school is/was very competitive in all ways.  I never wanted to work hard enough to excel; I never wanted to be in AP classes; I never wanted to join clubs or organizations.  That was my persona.  I was not a joiner.  Yes, I played Varsity level sports all four years though the number of sports dwindled each year:  from 4, to 3, to 2 my last 2 years.  I had no artistic talent nor did I have musical talent.

And yet, I was fairly social.  I attended many parties, had Prom and Ball dates, spent a great deal of time laughing.  What I know now is that I am a survivor.  I built such a protective wall around myself that I had no earthly idea I was deeply sensitive.  Nor did I know that I was attractive.

I was an “early bloomer” as the old expression goes.  Even though I was one of the youngest in our class due to my November birthday, I “developed” at an alarmingly early age.  Girls gawked at me at summer camp, in locker rooms.  Because I was tall and had broad shoulders, I was called burly, a dyke and many other names.  Hell, in those days I thought a dyke was a wall that held back water.  I was a tomboy who never understood why I was never asked out on dates.  I liked boys, had crushes on many…shoulda, coulda, woulda.

My sense of humor carried me through it all.  But in the land of the haves and have nots, I was neither.  From the age of 10, I was raised by my mom.  In those days one NEVER spoke of problems within the home, never.  It’s a shame, really.  Kids now have many more resources for support.  As a teacher, I purposely became the poster child for “I was raised in a single parent home, paid for my college experience, never had the clothes I wanted, couldn’t talk to anyone about my problems” and turned out okay considering what I experienced between the ages of 7-17.

Turning out okay means being gainfully employed, achieving appropriate higher education (though at “lowly” state schools), and owning a home.  I worked very hard as a teacher.  I loved what I did.  I can only hope I was able to impact a few lives over the years.

I’m certain this will not be a popular post with my former classmates and I’m positive there are MANY who went through challenges as I did.  I’m still a member of the neutral space between the haves and have nots.  I have a modest home.  I’ve filled it with meaningful things.  I’m blessed to have it.  I worked hard for it.  I’m still a casual dresser.  I don’t accessorize, I don’t sport bling, I don’t act my age.  And yeah, I never married so I don’t fit in because I have no husband to speak of or tales of children or grandchildren.  You know what?  I’m fine with it.  I am who I am, no more and no less.

When all is said and done, I hope many of my classmates remember me as a nice person.  I tried to be nice to everyone, especially those to whom people weren’t nice.  Yeah, I knew what it was like not to fit in.  I was just better at pretending.

And you know what else?  The “cool kids” are not always the nicest kids.   Most are, but be careful what you wish for.  And for anyone I ignored because I was too swept up in being cool, I apologize.

Thought you knew me?  Would love to know you now.  Drop me a line.

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About thequarryschild

A self-described forensic junkie, Beth Anderson spends her days shaping young minds to ask critical questions and wonder “whodunit.” Beth resides in the Capital District of New York and spends her free time reading and solving the great mysteries. Her love of swimming, tennis and sports provides the basis for one of the lead characters in her new book The Quarry’s Child. Beth is one of the founding members of the Upper Hudson Valley Chapter of Sisters in Crime (aka Mavens of Mayhem), a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, a survivor of a visit to an active aircraft carrier while it was at sea, and a published poet in Soundings, a literary journal. Beth continues to instill a love for mystery fiction in her students as she has for over twenty years. Photo credit: Quinn Mulvey
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2 Responses to To go or not to go?

  1. Sarah Longley says:

    Beth, I read this piece with a great deal of interest – I can certainly relate to much of what you said. I made very few connections in high school, and always felt like an outsider – which indeed I was! I too was raised by a single mother, had virtually no financial resources, and felt extremely isolated and alone in my circumstances.
    Initially, I had no interest in attending the class reunion. I told myself that I wouldn’t have anything in common with anyone, that I never really knew anyone, and that no one really knew me. Why would I want to surround myself with strangers and potentially dredge up the discomfort I felt so many years ago? But then it occurred to me that I was holding onto something – perhaps it was bitterness that my high school experience was a lonely one. Or perhaps it was jealousy that my memories of high school are not particularly happy ones – I’m not sure. But the fact that I WAS holding on to something, gave me much to ruminate on.
    One of my brothers came to see me a couple of years ago, and he casually made a comment that struck me to the core. He said “you were such a happy child”, which of course was another way of saying “you’re not a happy woman”. I’ve been thinking about that almost constantly – I was happy, and then I wasn’t. And although I have had moments of extreme joy in my life, the truth is, I have not been a particularly happy person. I’m not suggesting this was the result of experiences in high school, but I suppose we are the sum of all that we have lived.
    The magnitude of 40 years having passed by so quickly could give one the impetus to take stock of one’s life, and the realization that there are fewer years ahead than behind is certainly a contributing factor to that. And so I have resolved to become happy again. I am choosing to adopt a different perspective from the one which I have allowed to dominate my outlook on, well… everything. And although this is creating a little discomfort, my default perspective has not served me well. If I don’t change it, nothing else will.
    Regarding high school and the reunion, if I don’t consider myself the same person that I was then, why would anyone else be? I am choosing to let go of the impressions of people which I had formed all those years ago, and wipe the slate clean. I see this as a unique opportunity to connect with people whom I don’t really know, but might actually like! Perhaps those I thought were ass holes are still ass holes – but maybe not!
    My personal objective, as I said, is to be happy. To do that I have to look ahead, as that’s the direction I’m heading. Although it’s easy to think of attending a high school reunion as simply re-visiting the past, I see it as an opportunity to lift up that past and move it into present, where I can see it through my 57 year old eyes, appreciate it and hopefully embrace it.
    I hope you will choose to come, but if you don’t, I understand that too. Be well Beth.
    Sarah

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