When was the last time you saw someone from high school?
Ahh, yes, high school. I remember it well. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Was there ever another bewildered teenager with such a curious combination of colossal conceit and pitiful self-loathing?
Probably, right? But if you lived it perhaps you know how hard it is to get over yourself and the whole high school experience. It was all just so…..HIGH SCHOOL.
The last time I saw someone I went to high school with my sister had to point out the fact to me since I didn’t recognize her. Quite possibly there have been lots of other chance encounters of fellow students and I’ve been blissfully oblivious. There’s really no one I’ve kept in touch with from that time in my life, except for one person who found me on facebook, and sporadic Christmas cards from someone else, and of course those rare chance encounters where somebody has to give me a hard nudge with her elbow to make me pay attention and figure out where I’ve seen that guy before.
We had gone to the hospital in my home town to visit my dad following his stroke. A little dark-haired nurse came in and fussed over him for a bit and my sister said a few things to her. Then she said to me, do you remember Cathy P, who used to be Cathy C.? And suddenly the face was familiar – the cute little cheerleader years later in a nurse’s uniform! No doubt what flashed through her mind might have been – huh – the prom queen gone to fat and wrinkles! But we smiled and said hello and how are you and it’s been so long, and it’s so nice to see you again….all the right things, whether sincere or not really makes no difference.
Later my sister told me that Cathy had married her high school sweetheart. And that he had died a few years ago, and she had been completely devastated for a long time. He was the love of her life and she said after he was gone that even if she’d known of this eventual outcome she loved him so much she would do it all over again. Hearing this put everything in a completely different perspective for me. We are not who we were in high school. People become wives and mothers and widows and dedicated nurses who fuss over our sick fathers. Our lives may be vaguely shaped by those school years but in the big picture they’re just a short little spurt of growing up time preparing us for whatever comes next.
We give it such excessive and boundless importance while we’re living it – the relationships and the friendships and the angst ridden search for who we are and how we want to be regarded. And then we graduate and go off in a myriad of different directions on various divergent and dissimilar paths and what people think of us becomes nothing at all compared to how we feel about ourselves.
So, old high school people from my past, if we should happen to meet and look each other in the face and have no clue whatsoever why we look familiar to each other for some obscure reason – I hope you have had a wonderful life. I hope you have known joy and contentment and love. I hope that whatever pain and sadness you’ve had in your life has made you stronger and that you are at peace with the world. That’s really what I mean when I’m saying hello, how are you, nice to see you again.