Thursday, June 02, 2016
I came the realization that I finished High School 39 years ago this month. How the hell can it be 39 years? Not that high school looms large in my life, but how can I be old enough for plans for a 40th reunion to start popping up on Facebook, Social Media has reconnected us to our pasts, if we like it or not.
My relationship to high school is complicated. As I have explained before I went to half of high school in Michigan and half of high school in Florida, my parents were snow birds and I changed schools a couple of times a year in time with their seasonal moves south and north. It was complicated beyond that, I didn't fit in well, I didn't really understand why, and what I did understand scared the crap out of me. I was a good student, but no one took an interest in my academic work. I didn't realize until I applied for graduate school, that I finished in the top 20% of my high school class, despite changing school 8 times in four years.
I was kind of a geek in high school, yearbook photographer. Coordination was not my strong suite, I am not a natural born runner, and locker rooms conflicted the hell out of me, so I was definitely not a jock in high school. I was classified as college prep, but when I tried to talk about college the only advice was art school to study photography, overlooking the fact that I have no ability to draw.
My Florida high school experience was as a temporary student who arrived in the middle of the fall semester and would be gone in the middle of the spring. I was more connected to Michigan, but I found that I had little in common with classmates in North Branch. I had seen the city, it was hard to connect back on the farm. I do have a life long friend from Florida, there is no one from Michigan that I have stayed in contact with continuously over the decades.
I went back for a couple of reunions in Michigan, the last one was the 25th. I left there with a sense of closure, realizing that 25 years earlier I had little connection to the place and people, not that they are not good people, and being gone for 25 years had not built fondness.
Looking at high school classmates on Facebook, many of them have never moved on. They list their education as high school. What ever they left with 39 years ago, was what they have built their lives around. I went beyond, my undergrad experience was "non-traditional" taking over a decade to finish a 4 year degree, but my time at Rollins changed me as a person. I grew up, developed self understanding and improved self acceptance. I went on to Law School, an experience that changed me again. I have high school classmates that are still where they landed out of high school. They never moved beyond. I did. This makes me different, but then I knew I was different 39 years ago. I didn't know how far I would grow away from the people and place.