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.
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.