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A past that will not stay in the past

I suppose it was inevitable.  God has a way of making you face things you don’t want to face, so that he can complete you.  I’m not sure how I’m going to overcome this, but at least I’m willing to try now and I recognize the problem.

Let me explain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.

High School was not the greatest time for me.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it wasn’t.  I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t unpopular.  Girls didn’t throw themselves at me, but they didn’t ignore me either.  Though my grades were above average, they were just under the curve to avoid recognition.

In short, I was forgettable.

My senior year I detested going to school, because I was ready to leave and start fresh.  I thought that in college I could finally be somewhat recognizable, or at the very least appreciated.  Through music, I found ways to get away from that school and get involved in other places with other people who at least recognized that I was there and that I had something to contribute.  During the awards ceremony senior year (the only year I received an award… in music no less), I wasn’t even there.  I was off participating in a Regional Honor Orchestra.  Spring break I went to Mexico, and that summer I went to the mountains and then to Canada.  I took more senior college days (approved days to visit prospective colleges) than any other senior that year.

So, I tried my best to be absent as much as possible until I could move away.  I didn’t even go to prom with anyone at that school… I went with a friend of mine that lived about two hours away.  (Funny, I never once lost touch with her.)  And after graduation, I didn’t go to a party or anything.  I went home, probably to start packing.

When I graduated, I didn’t look back.  To this day, there are people that I talked to on a daily basis in high school, that I haven’t spoken one word to since graduation night.  In small ways I tried to distance myself while I was still there, and when I graduated I cut the cord completely.

In college I met new friends… friends who loved and accepted me just the way I was, without question.  And I met my wife… my absolute best friend.  My new and improved life had begun just as I had hoped, and those detestable high school days were but a blur.  It was the beginning of Act II.

Ten years later, I received the email about a high school reunion.  I understand it took a little work to track me down.  I was reluctant to go at first, but go I did.  It was one of the most awkward nights I’ve ever had.  The past was mingling with the present, and I didn’t like that.  So after that night I mostly disappeared again.

And during all this time, if I’m ever back in my home town, I’m very wary about running into former classmates… even to the point that I avoid them if I see them in the distance.  I had to work in that town for a year before moving to New Orleans.  Avoiding classmates became an art form.

Story time…

In first grade my best friend was a girl.  She shall remain nameless, but should she read this she knows who she is.  We stayed friends for a couple years, sort of fell away, and then in fifth grade we were back in the same class and became best friends again.  Then Junior High hit, and she was my first crush.  But I was much too shy to ever tell her that, and we were separating into our respective cliques as Junior High tends to do.  So we took different paths.  Senior year we worked together on a project and almost the friendship rekindled.  But there had been too much separation for too long.

I passed her in the store not so long ago.  When I realized she was there and I couldn’t avoid her, there was a sinking dread in me.  Her face seemed to light up with recognition.  She said something to me, and I replied with a simple, “Hey,” and kept walking.

It was at that moment that I realized something was wrong in me.  But I wasn’t sure what it was and I wasn’t sure how to fix it.  I just wanted that part of my life to go away.  Ask my wife.  She’ll tell you that I hardly say anything about anyone from high school… ever.  Most unfortunately, only one person, outside of family, managed to transition from Act I to Act II with me (see a fore mentioned prom date).

There was no reason for me to be so rude to someone who at one point was my best friend.  There was no reason not to stop and talk for a minute.  But I didn’t… and for that I am ashamed.  And with that moment of shame, came the memories, realizations, and shame over all the other people I’ve hurt in my dogmatic efforts to separate myself from that part of my past.

Oh, but then Facebook…

People are requesting to be my friend… people who I haven’t seen or spoken with since that faithful graduation night.  I haven’t sought anyone out… but they’ve requested to me.  I have barely communicated on FB with but a few of these… mostly people I wasn’t very close to in high school… but I’ve sort of watched and read about them.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

I’m not the only one who has changed.  My former classmates have lives, children and spouses, careers, ambitions and dreams.  Granted, a few of them still don’t know high school is over.  But most are now grounded, respectful, and friendly adults.  They are not the people I remember.  They are not the “horror” of high school.  And if I could get past this dang pride issue, I’m sure I could reconnect and become good friends with several people I was sure didn’t know I existed in high school.

So I want to get over this hurtful emotion that I associate with anyone from Act I in my life.  I want to start reconnecting and getting to know these new people from my past.  I want to come full circle… back to my beginning… and reconcile to the people I forgot.

To my first grade best friend – I’m sorry I snubbed you in Wal-Mart.

To those friends that I hurt and abandoned during the first few months after graduation – I’m sorry.  I was very wrong.

To those friends that have tried to reconnect with me, that I tried to keep pushed away – I’m sorry.  I’m an idiot.

And to a few people specific – Jason, Carrie, Noella, Kevin, Rich, Michelle, Tina, Albert, Seth, and anyone else I hung out with back then – I’m sorry I forgot you.

I also realize that in some cases I may have caused permanent irreconcilable damage to our friendship.  This grieves me severely.  And if you feel this way, I ask sincerely for your forgiveness.

Now as I start Act III of my life here in New Orleans, God has convicted me that I need to reconcile with Act I.  I’m not sure I know how.  But I ask for any of my high school classmates to send me an FB message or email.  Please help me get started in this.  I will promise to remember that you are not the same person as your high school counterpart, if you promise to remember that I am not the same person who kicked the dirt from my shoes and never looked back after graduation.

-k

www.KevenNewsome.com

About Keven Newsome

Keven Newsome is an musician, theologian, and a bit of a nerd. He enjoys a variety of musical genres, from Christian rock to movie soundtracks to KPop. A former band director, he plays about a dozen instruments, given a couple of weeks to practice up. His theological work has included a book on multi-generational ministry and a thesis on the theology of communicating with the dead. As for his nerd-card, he enjoys the fandoms of The Legend of Zelda, Doctor Who, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Lord of the Rings. With a music degree from William Carey University and a theology degree from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Keven actively serves in ministry as both pastor and worship leader.

20 comments on “A past that will not stay in the past

  1. oh keven! this made ME cry!!!! and i can so relate!!! It’s GREAT and so true! Loved it!!!

  2. Jess… your willingness to step out and engage me on facebook partly helped give me the courage to write this. Thank you.

  3. That was Awesome! I have come to realize also that people Do change! I know I’m not the same person that I was in High School outside or inside .. LOL I hope I was never ugly to you! If I was I’m sorry. Be proud of who you are always!

  4. I’m pretty sure you don’t remember me but we were in Jr. High together. I felt the same as you about seeing old friends from school especially since I had dropped out of school and felt like a failure. Like you I wasn’t popular and didn’t have guys flocking to me but the friends I had were good friends. Thanks to facebook I have been able to reconnect with alot of old friends and classmates. Btw I always thought you were a cutie when we were in school.. 😉

    • I’m going to apologize right now because I don’t remember you. In fact, one of the things that snowballed this blog into existence, was the fact that someone friended me on FB that I DID go to High School with all four years… and I didn’t remember them. Guess I mentally blocked a lot of that out. And btw… no need to be nice. I know I looked goofy. I’ve got pictures to prove it.

  5. bahahaha!!! 2 funny u blocked out the mem’ries!!!!! NOW facing fear #1 STRAIGHT UP n the face is in progress, here it is, fear #2 coming right along: HOST A WRITERS CONFERENCE!!

  6. I wasn’t just being nice I was being truthful 🙂

  7. This is very touching and so true i felt just like this. I hated going to school i felt always judged and made fun of and not good enough for everyones expectations.I did finally drop out of high school because of it, and later went back to school. If i ever done anything to ever hurt you i am sorry also. We all had alot of growing up to do and i know i have changed into a responsible adult, a mother and wife.We sometimes in life make people suffer for how other people wronged us and we have to take responsibility for our own actions. I done things when i was younger im not proud of but it made me the woman i am today. I guess we are only human and are allowed to make mistakes but the important thing is to know when you are wrong and learn from that. I love your story and it brought back memories. God Bless you and your family Kevin.

  8. Keven, I hate that you have been feeling this way. I hope that I was never rude to you in school. I have only stayed in contact with one person since we graduated. Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with many people and I am thankful for that. I also attended our reunion and felt somewhat out of place. There are many people that we graduated with that still act like they are back in high school, but many of us do not act like that anymore (thank goodness!). I know that I am not the same person as I was back then. Like yourself, I tend to avoid people when I go back home. I know that is rude but I guess some people I don’t want to come in contact with because they are the same as they always have been. Maybe I need to improve my ways also. Maybe a bunch of us should get together and go eat or something one night.

  9. I don’t see you as being any different from the most of us. I believe that we all went through that at some point, and for most of us, it just happened to be at that particular time in our lives. I know that I was sooooo ready to leave Columbia myself!! I wanted to let you know that you are not the only person who has avoided friends from school, I’ve done it, and I still do it considering on who it is, what kind of mood I’m in, and whether I can get away w/ it or not. haha (sorry friends!!) I feel that the reason we sometimes avoid friends that we don’t talk to on a daily basis is simply b/c trying to create small talk w/ someone we haven’t spoken to in years is just plain exhausting! lol Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that your not alone, we all have done this at one time or another. It’s good to see you doing so well, and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Keven, I absolutely love this!! We had such good times in band. Remember when I hid Melanie in the trunk of my car, and came to your house?? Those were some good times. I lost touch with sooo many people right after I graduated, and some before. I graduated in May of 98, moved to Ellisville in July of 98 and I still live in Jones County. There are a few that I never lost touch with. Its just part of life to move on, grow as a person, and in some cases follow your dreams. Facebook has brought me back in touch with soo many people. I think often of the folks I went to school with. I dont really avoid people when I am home, but I dont go out of my way to see people either. I am so glad facebook has helped all of us reconnect and share our lives with each other. Even if it is only through pics, statuses, and the occasional message.

  11. Dearest Keven,
    Thank God in heaven for the fact that He lays it on our hearts to stop and recognize. This is just a simply wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Keven,

    I can completely understand where you are coming from. By senior year I couldn’t bring myself to step into that school, so I ended up leaving. I didn’t have many friends and don’t even know if people noticed when I left. I did attempt the college experience for a semester in fall of ’97, that was a failure too. I felt too much like I was back in high school and left that too. I have lived in a few different places since high school, but something would always drag me back. I dreaded being here and also tried to avoid as many people from school as I could. Eventually I moved to the Ms Gulf Coast as a way of escaping. Ironically it was there that I ran into someone from school that I couldn’t avoid. I mumbled something vague and got away as fast as I could. After Katrina I had to come back. Although I didn’t graduate, I was invited to the 10 year reunion; I didn’t go. I have changed as I’ve gotten older, but some habits seem to have a way of not wanting to shake loose.

  13. Thank you all for your understanding and kind words! It’s amazing how so many people basically felt the same way, and I’m starting to see this snowball into reconciliation across several graduating classes! Wow!

    Now there are specifically three more people that I really feel I should reconcile with. Either they’ve read this, and ignored it, or they haven’t read it at all. Perhaps soon I’ll seek them out.

  14. Keven that was so touching because I, like you, never just over-exceeded. I think people often misunderstand people like us.

  15. Reblogged this on Keven Newsome and commented:

    Sometime ago I wrote this post as I reflected on my time in high school. Now I dedicate it to the West Marion class of 1996 on our 15th anniversary of graduation.

  16. I STILL love this! 🙂 And wow, reading the comments, Melanie was a sneaky girl!! :p Hope her mama don’t read this!! bahahahaha!!!!

  17. Kevin, I’ve had this on my fb for some time and don’t know why I waited till now to respond to it. Buddy closer to the end of high school I was kinda out there. I didn’t care about school, graduation or anything to do with it except music. I let alcohol and partying pretty much rule all of my time. It took me a while to grow up from all of those things. Being a father now has taught me a lot. Guess what I am trying to say is we all had our demons in some way we were fighting. For the most part the classmates I do see from time to time have grown up and became better people than we remember. Anyways, I’m responding to tell you that if I ever was rude to you or anything back in those days I apologize sincerely. (like I said I was out there back then and not in a good way) take care friend. Glenn

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