Thursday, July 24, 2008

Open Letter to my High School Chums

Dear friends with whom I've been out of touch for years,

I was so grateful for your friendship in high school. After being the target of so many fat jokes and four-eyed jokes during grade school, having your friendship was like an amazing gift! We ran together in a pack, spending the nights at each other's homes and talking until late at night about the Bay City Rollers, The Who, Queen, Thin Lizzy, and oh so many others. Thank you for those "pass around" stories in which we gradually added on more and more juicy details until every one of us was married off to the rock star of our choice (our logical conclusion to all that imaginary sex, I guess!).

Thank you for the experience of writing my first newsletter, "The Idiotic Times," and having you read it. Thank you, Lisa, for writing its competition, "The Esquirrel." Between the two of us, we learned timing, satire, irony, and raucous humor. Our little hand-written, hand-drawn newsletters were passed around school to the delight of all who read them. Mostly we wrote them for us, but people certainly enjoyed them, didn't they? And we had such fun with the celebrity antics back then, before TMZ, E!, The Daily Show, or any of the other topical humor sources appeared on the scene (because come on, TMZ really is humor, isn't it?).

Thank you for staying up late watching The Midnight Special, Monty Python's Flying Circus, and Saturday Night Live with me and for ignoring the weirdness of my family, as I ignored the weirdness of yours. It was about fun and being together and having someone to listen - really listen - to your deepest dreams and secrets.

Though things didn't turn out as we planned, we have good lives, don't we? We're all inching toward 50, and I wonder what you're all doing now. We've lost touch, long ago now, and I don't do high school reunions. Of course, our families took us all in different directions, right in the middle of our best years of high school, so we didn't graduate together anyway. Every one of us graduated at a different school, didn't we? That created such sadness for me. I missed you all.

Lisa, the last time we talked, you were still waiting for Keith to marry you. You were starting to feel your biological clock ticking, while he was still going bug-eyed at the mention of marriage or kids. Though you had to know all that about him, I love that you held your own dream for your life. You wanted to write books, and sing in community choruses, and have at least one child. I hope you managed to get the child you wanted. I would hate to know that you threw that dream away. You introduced me to some great authors and were the first reviewer I ever had. You taught me some lessons I still have yet to learn. It was from you that I learned I might actually be a writer. I'm sorry you were so disappointed in me that I got married and had my children young. As it turns out, that was for the best. I was too ill later on to have had my kids, I think. It certainly would have been harder. And you will be glad to know that I finished my degree and am planning to go to grad school. Better late than never.

Lori, I wish just one of those guys you met had seen the pure heart inside you and had been worthy of it. I hate that you had your heart broken in more than one divorce, but at least you have Kevin who is - what? - 21 now? I'll bet that Woody wouldn't have hurt you. I hated, too, that you felt your parents loved your adopted brother more than they loved you, their biological child. Couldn't they see how special you were? I wanted your mother to be more affectionate with you, but she was a cold woman who sat at that kitchen table with her bouffant hair-do and drank endless cups of coffee and chain smoked. She was like marble, and the house? Too perfect for words. I miss you, girl. When we followed Rick from Def Leppard upstairs in the elevator and sat in his room chatting him up (before he lost his arm) and got the backstage passes? Priceless.

Joan, we fell out of touch early on, but I always thought you had the most beautiful auburn hair. I hope that you went on to Baylor and got your medical degree and became a brilliant doctor who heals people. You certainly had the brains for it, and your sister? Not nearly as pretty as you, no matter what you or the world thought. You had it going on!

Tina, you were such a good friend in high school, and I saw the Grand Canyon with you, thanks to your patient but distant parents. It was great fun, even when we ended up in a Catholic church (my first one) in New Mexico, listening to a priest with a heavy accent ("Take theeeeees, all of youuuuu....") who gave us the giggles right in the middle of communion. I thought your mother would kill us. When I saw you later and you let us stay with you and your husband for a few weeks while we found an apartment, I was shocked at the change. You married this guy from Pakistan (before there were a lot of intercultural marriages) and let him treat you like crap. Your house? Roaches, my dear? You weren't raised that way. You swore you'd never visit your husband's homeland because of how women were treated there, but I saw no affection between the two of you. I think it was a green card marriage, though you swore it wasn't. I hope life got better for you, because you deserved better.

To all of you, I send my love. You helped form who I am. You all influenced me in some way, and I miss you. May life continue to bless you, wherever you are.

Peace - D


San said...

Awesome post, Doris. I never hung with such a wonderful gang in high school. I envy that. It's my college friends I miss. I have lost touch with them too, for the most part anyway.

It would be so cool if any of these old high school buds of yours stumble on this post. Although the honesty of it might make a heart skip a beat or two, they would find the midlife, retroactive wisdom sweet indeed.

we_be_toys said...

This is a great post, full of resonance for me. I'm hoping too that one of them contacts you after reading this.
I'm such a romantic!

RiverPoet said...

San - I didn't go to college straightaway, so my HS chums were it. I do miss them, but my how we drifted apart! I needed a place to be honest, because I find myself missing them lately. I wonder what they would say to me?

We Be Toys - Me, too. It would be amazing. I especially miss Lori. She was the one I could always count on for something unusual!!! Hence the Def Leppard moment.

Peace - D

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Wow. Powerful post. Ah, the highschool years....I got a laugh out of each of you ignoring each other's family wierdness...

Isn't it sad when you know someone when they are young, and they hold such promise and their future looks so promising...and then it all goes awry and they end a roachy apartment with the wrong man. But life never stands still, and I do hope that all of these girls are in a better position and place now....

Very interesting idea for an open letter to your past...

RiverPoet said...

Thanks, Lavinia. I certainly hope that they all landed on their feet. Smart girls, all of them...Peace - D