Wow THAT was fast! It seemed like just yesterday I was part of the graduating class of Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. It wasn’t just yesterday, it was 1981 and I was a mighty cougar, in my head anyway. In reality, I was a geek of the highest order. Tall, skinny, socially awkward, pimply, unpopular and any other unflattering adjective you might want to throw in. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.
It’s funny, the stuff we so desperately wanted then versus what we want now. In 1981, I wanted to be popular, part of the “in crowd”. Instead I circulated on the perimeter, face pressed up against the glass, gawking at the “beautiful people”. I wanted to be a cheerleader because I thought that would give me an in but I couldn’t do the splits so I never made it. I thought wearing the ridiculously priced, designer jeans would make them accept me. My mom said there was no way we would spend that kind of money on dungarees (yes, she used that word). I wanted my hair to fall in light feathers, framing my face and eyes and I fought everyday to make it so. Of course, it was never quite right. And when I graduated, I can’t say that I was sad to see my Del Campo days in the rearview mirror.
Now as I head back, three decades and a bunch of gray hairs later, it’s clear to me what’s important. For someone who didn’t date much, I managed to snag a good man. For someone who was a pretty average student, I managed to cobble together a decent career. And for someone who was never that maternal, I gave birth to and am raising a couple of fantastic kids. Those things plus job loss, a health scare and just everyday life have taught me more than all the classes at Del Campo combined.
Oh, how I wish I could bottle up what I know now and give it to my kids as they traverse the adolescent terrain. It would save them the heartache of trying to impress a bunch of people who may or may not be a part of their future. I would tell them the “beautiful people” are as frightened and insecure as you are. And then I would urge them to look forward not back, understanding that every experience, including being damn near dateless for four years, happens for a reason.
I’d love to stay and regale you with stories about Mr. McCullough’s algebra class or waiting with anticipation FOR YEARS to be able to sit on the Senior Lawn but I can’t because, in typical Good Enough Mother fashion, I’m not packed yet. What, you were expecting I would be, what’s that word? ORGANIZED?
You can follow my antics from the road here and here; trust me, it will be a hoot and there will be photos to prove it. But before I go, a question for you. Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your high school self? What’s the best part about you now that’s rooted in your high school experience? What do you want your kids to know about growing up and the high school years? Lemme hear ya!