Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I don’t know about you, but I was damn glad to get out of high school. It wasn’t the very best of experiences for me, partly because, halfway through, the district redrew the lines determining which high school you’d go to depending on your address, and my two best friends and I were separated. In the new place I felt like a stranger in a strange land a lot of the time. Plus I sucked at athletics and dating.
I went to a local college, but only one of my classmates from high school went there. She and I never ran into each other. (I always recall, though, that she and I had both skipped the high school senior photo, understanding that the images would mortify us years later.) I lived in the dorm my sophomore year, just to get out of the house, and even then I was pretty much isolated since I had two jobs and a heavy course load. When I hit the room, I crashed.
Then I did my junior year abroad and returned with an eye toward hunkering down and finishing. Not much socializing, and I lived in my own apartment anyway. I was practically an adult.
A year after college I met my first wife (for the second time, actually – we knew each other back in high school), and life began in earnest.
What baffles me to this day is why some people – a lot of people, I think – are so attached to their high school years that they never lose touch with the crowd, they attend events, they support the football team, and they still, somehow, relate.
What is up with that?
I mention this because a few weeks ago I started getting emails from Yearbook.com, where I got some material for a blog post last year, inviting me to the 2017 Oakville Senior High Homecoming Weekend. The same woman was handling the invites who had handled the ten-year reunion. It’s like she had assigned herself to be the the ambassador of the Class of ’75 in perpetuity. I remember telling her at the time of that reunion (as I declined to attend), “I don’t know about you, but I was damn glad to get out of high school. It wasn’t the very best of experiences for me …” She was incredulous.
As the days went by, I got updates from Yearbook.com about who had RSVP’d. I didn’t want to unsubscribe from the emails because I thought it would tip someone off that I’d actually been found, but I did check to see who had RSVP’d and it turned out I didn’t know any of them. That only reinforced that I was a total loser in high school and didn’t know anybody of note. Or anybody. (Even if I did play Hawkeye Pierce in our production of M*A*S*H.) And the funny thing is, I didn’t really want to know anybody of note back then, because you’d get associated with certain groups of people when your true identity was something much different. A lot of the people of note were either jocks or drug connoisseurs. I already loved Renaissance lute music, so.
Ultimately the emails stopped coming – I guess because Homecoming Weekend had come and gone. I’m glad I didn’t go. For all of the above reasons but also because I would be unrecognizable to my old classmates and they to me. In fact, I landed on a recent photo of someone I used to know in those days and there was only the faintest hint in there that she was that person. The caption said it was her and I believed it.
My takeaway message is, kids, when you graduate from high school, run as fast as you can as far as you can and never look back. High school is like boot camp. It’s the red-hot coals you have to walk over barefooted to get to the complimentary drinks. Proceed as if life will always get better for you, because if you’ve already experienced the best of it before you’re nineteen, you’ve got yourself a long, dull stretch to trudge through before sweet sweet oblivion.