Many things happen over the course of 20 years; barring early on-set Alzheimer's, what remains the same? Our memories. I suppose that's what draws many of us back in, the shared memories of "Remember when?"
However, not all of us have fond memories to reflect upon. Speaking for myself, I was never sure what the majority of you thought of me or if you thought of me at all. I think, to most I was a mystery, an anomaly; always at the periphery, battling the tide, swimming upstream never one to just go along for the ride.
I never smoked, never drank, and still don't to this day; I didn't enjoy the never-ending, circular nature of gossip that passed for conversation. (The same stories, only names changed). By senior year, I had retreated, had my fill, stayed to myself and focused on report cards, straight A's, and making friends with the future.
High school wasn't all bad just a series of continued disappointments and the friends I never had. Because, for the most part, I saw you and I knew your names but I wanted nothing to do with playing games. Sophomore year, I remember it clearly, a locker in the upstairs hall where the popular kids roamed freely with jovial laughter, slaps on the backs and flirtations never-ending. Although, an introvert I wasn't shy, more than anything, uncertain; confident and yet confidence lacked, if only I could have recognized my beauty.
For 21 years, until I was married, my status: #NeverBeenKissed.
It wasn't because I was "Josie Grosey" but precisely because of my purity and possibly whatever fellow ACS (Ada Christian School) classmates, who reached the upper echelons of "success", had said about me.
You see, in those upper halls, while hanging up pictures in my locker, it was the start of a brand new school year, and one of you all-star boys approached me, friendly, asking questions, you wanted to get to know me; but, then, one of your "friends" came up beside you and not trying to hide the words that were said, "What are you doing? She's not one of us man." And, exactly what one of you were still escapes me. From then on, it was downstairs halls, or empty teacher classrooms, where I spent most of my days, just waiting for it to be over. (And, when I read the phrase, "most of my days", all I hear is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air song ringing in my ears;
I know I'm not the only one!)
I tried my best to not reside in any one set clique. I may not have said "Hi" to all of you but for the most part I had enough courage to. I didn't want there to be walls or barriers between any of us; more alike than different, I still believe that's true. Blessed with a handful of good friends, more than enough for me, and yet, just like "Stand By Me", no truer friends have I ever had than the friends I had when I was 12.
Why would that be? I suppose it's because from 4-13 there were about 30 people who lived their lives with me, who I viewed, for the most part, as my extended family. We went to school together, preschool through 8th grade, and some were added in, here and there, as we aged. We went to church together, we bumped into each other at the store; our lives were lived in similar circles, and by 8th grade we knew each other almost toowell. But those I used to know, in my most formative of years, still know me and I still know them even if we no longer keep in touch. We age, we grow, we mature, we change but deep down in our souls we're the same as we used to be in those memories of "Remember when?" our glory days.
I debate within myself whether it's worth the time and money it will take to travel from Alaska to Michigan, just for one weekend, to attend a reunion where many won't know me or even remember my name. Where we allow ourselves to be self-conscious all over again; we want to be inconspicuous, to just blend in, (I probably don't speak for the majority but I speak for me). Writers write but talking, on the fly, without preparation, is a whole different beast. But, if I go, I'll say "Hi" having mastered the small talk of "how have you been?" with a genuine grin. And, I imagine I will be happy to have seen you again even if I still don't fit in; because, I don't know if it's possible for me to ever be one of you even if, the truth is, I've been one of you all along.
My friends, we've been on this planet for 38 years, I may not know you and you may not know me and yet I believe, for the most part, we'd recognize each other. My hope would be that the cliques would no longer exist and yet I think that's metaphorically just a pipe dream; because, for the majority, the cliques are where your friends still are. Those were the people you knew, and still do, the ones who helped to shape you, who you listened to, who helped determine who you would be and gave to you part of your identity. I understand, and yet this I know, if one of you were to get sick or died and I was notified, as the Holy Spirit guides, I would be there for you and your family, in some small way, if for no other reason than for the "Remember when?" of being in the same place once upon a time. Because, regardless if you believe in Jesus Christ or not we're still family; linked together, through GRCHS, the class of '96 forever.