It’s A Little Childish and Stupid, But Then Again, So Is High School
I was eleven when my sister graduated from high school. To me she had lived at the most perfect time in the history of high school, right when every great John Hughes movie came out. Everyone still had big hair, fringe suede jackets and French rolled pants and even I, a sixth grader, knew which seniors threw the best parties and knew when their parents were out of town. I would study my sister’s yearbook, the one she was editor-in-chief of, and could tell you who won best dressed, all the members of the baseball team and that Nathan Manley;s parents were divorced and therefore bought two spaces at the back of the book to congratulate him, one reading “Love, Mom and Jim” the other “Love, Dad and Sheryl”.
High school was a wonderful, mythical place where cool kids ruled, my siblings appeared to be royalty and I was the heir to their throne. My brother once bragged that he never once took the school bus in high school; he always got a ride with someone. Never once rode with the commoners, can you believe it? I was dethroned when my parents moved the summer after eighth grade and I had to start high school in a new town. The family name was no longer a legacy, it was no longer the 80’s and astigmatism forced me to wear a pair of giant glasses that made me look like a young Sophia Loren crossed with Chelsea Clinton before she was introduced to Versace. I didn’t know anyone I could get a ride with so I took the bus every day. I had no idea what the protocol of this new high school was or how to get around so when I arrived for my first day, every locker on the first floor was already claimed and I had to pick a locker in a place called the Dungeon. The Dungeon in general was not bad but the fact that my locker was next to the infamous Troiano twins was. The astigmatism was the driving force behind my poor choice of eyewear, but the fault for my wardrobe was mine and mine alone. You know the phrase “hindsight is 20/20”? I am pretty sure whoever coined the phrase was looking at themselves in a picture from their freshman year. When the holiday season rolled around, my favorite outfit was a red and white striped turtleneck worn underneath a green, calf length corduroy jumper. At the end of the school day I endured the Troiano’s singing to me as I walked to my locker their rendition of “O Christmas Tree” much to my angsty dismay. What the HELL? Didn’t these boys know who I WAS? The lineage I hailed from? That if I attended the school I was SUPPOSED to go to I would be popular and accepted regardless of my shapeless, unflattering yuletide clothing that was occasionally accentuated with a battery operated Santa pin? They didn’t care then and they didn’t care when they were stealing the lock off my locker either.
On the last day of freshman year I was on the bus going home when a senior girl asked everyone on the bus, “Does anyone REALLY think these were the best years of our lives? That is SO shitty.” My bus driver laughed, I assume because she was wiser than us and knew there would be better times ahead. But then again she spent her days driving forty ugly, obnoxious kids, how dumb can you be to throw yourself back into that life? I laughed too because the thought was so sad but true. I spent my childhood dreaming of those four years, waiting for them to happen, assuming that they really would be the best. In that 20/20 hindsight though, I often think to myself “What did you expect? You had a perm, wore tights under shorts in the winter and decorated the inside of your locker with inspirational quotes”. I know that it didn’t matter where I went to school or who I was related to, but I like placing blame so I will continue to think that I would be Liz Black: Legendary Alumnus, had my family not moved. Some kid out there would be looking at her sister’s yearbook thinking that someday she too would be as cool as I was during my glory days. Unfortunately, it’s still me looking at the yearbook only now I look at my own and relish the notes people wrote to me, especially the one that says “Paige, Don’t forget to follow your dreams! Meredith”.