My first day of highschool was actually my second.
I was so nervous and paranoid that after picking up my best friend, I puked all over the burgundy interior of my mom’s boxy Grand Cherokee. I had convinced myself that once I got to school, I would instantly be labeled a weenie and shoved in a locker, of a trash can, or given a swirly. It’s possible that I had a vivid and untamed imagination.
I was finally able walk, sweaty palmed into school on day two. I found friends, people who were braver than I. Kids who had scouted out the lunch tables and saved me a seat in class.
Fast forward one year. It was the first day of my sophomore year and it was raining. I was wearing my new school clothes, somehow still unaware that it’s not cool to start the first day of school starched and pressed by mom. I walked through the front doors with hopes of a fresh start. Less than a breath later, I found myself on my back, staring up at my new shoes. I had not just slipped in front of the whole school, I landed on my back, legs splayed in the air.
That year I decided to join the color guard. The marching band’s version of a dance team. Yep, that would ensure my cool for school status.
Wrong. We wore crushed blue velvet unitards, sheer blue palazzo pants, and blue shoes. Walking to the stadium once, supposedly cheered on by our classmates, Amanda-a former friend-leaned over the rails and yelled “HEY [MONICA]! YOU LOOK LIKE A FAT LITTLE BLUEBERRY!!!!” She and her snarky friends guffawed at my expense. I danced through tears that show.
I begged to be homeschooled. No go.
My junior year didn’t get much better. Mme Butts, my French teacher kept her room seriously cold. That Spring, as the weather began to changed and sinuses were agitated, the temperature shift from my last class to hers caused horrendous nose bleeds. We later found that I had an exposed artery in my sinuses, but not before I found myself wilting in the front hallway, waiting for my grandmother to pick me up, with a tampon (thank you school nurse) shoved up my nose.
My mother graciously drove me to school every morning, and picked me up when she could, but because I didn’t get my licence until after senior parking was established (I’ll tell you THAT story sometime), I rode the bus all four years.
All four years weren’t totally miserable. I had some great friends in and out of school. And I had some wonderful teachers. There were fun times to be had, they were simply bookmarked by agoraphobia inducing displays of awkwardness. Mercifully, I had accumulated enough credits, perhaps with all the study time I had riding the loser cruiser home, to graduate early my senior year.
I tell you all of this to confess that last week I ran into a girl I went to high school with at the grocery store. I was wearing mom sweats and looking like Frieda Kahlo. So when she asked if Leo and I were going to our high school reunion and I said: “oh, you know, I haven’t even thought about it” I was lying.
Because what if the kids I knew as total asshats are now great people I’d like to know? Like the wrestling super star punk face who’s now a preacher and high school gym teacher. Or what if the kids I knew as great people are now total asshats?What if someone wants to shove me in a trash can, or give me a swirly?
If I do go, should I carry a puke bag? Should I dare dance? What if there’s dancing? What if I trip? Or sweat profusely, or snort when I laugh, sometimes I snort when I laugh. What if I have a nose bleed? Oh, I know I’m married to a great man and I’m proud of all I’ve done since high school. I’m like who I’m becoming. I’m not the same dorky girl I was ten years ago, but maybe I am just a little bit.