Monday, May 29, 2006


This class reunion thing should be interesting. Of course I'm curious to know what some people are up to, but the people I care most about I'm still in touch with. More interesting will be people's reactions to me and what I'm doing.

High school is a strange place -- or maybe it was just mine -- but I always felt like there was a lot of pigeon-holing going on. You were an "athlete" or a "band geek" or one of "the smart kids." Me? I was all three. Plus I did other random extracurriculars like art and newspaper. Despite all these activities and potential labels, one of the most defining characteristics assigned to me was that of "Catholic school girl." It was entirely accurate, and entirely not.

Yes, I had attended a Catholic school for middle school, which was relatively unusual in Janesville. Of the 350 people in my freshman class, maybe 15 of them had come from Catholic schools. The rest of everyone else had attended public school together since kindergarten. Or it seemed that way. But, no, I did not wear my religion on my sleeve. Nor my church's morals, for that matter. (I was the girl who knew everything there was to know about safe sex. And counseled her friends on such topics. At age 13. It's a good thing my parents didn't monitor my phone calls like the NSA does.)

Due to the wide recognition of me as a "good girl," certain social invitations were not extended, primarily of the Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n Roll variety. (My parents would be beyond relieved to know this. We'll not tell them.) This was a role other people thrust upon me, because I sure wasn't the one turning down invitations. If I had a dollar for every time someone expressed surprise at seeing a drink in my hand at a graduation party, I could've paid cash for my first semester of college. Don't get me wrong, I could drink, swear, and lay on the sexual innuendo with the best of them. (Often better.) My friend Anthony and I had an on-going debate as to whether I was a good girl with a bad girl exterior, or vice versa. Four years and I don't think we ever settled it.

"High school was the best four years of my life." Oh, how I shudder when I hear people say that! High school was the best four years of my life, to date. And then I went to college. (My god, nothing could be worse than the hell that is middle school, and I actually had it pretty easy -- only one trip to the shrink!) The thing is, I knew high school would be great, I knew I would love it, and I also knew it was going to be quickly overtaken by other, more amazing events. Unlike some of my friends, I have many happy memories from high school, I met some of my best friends there, I had some really valuable learning experiences there (how to play soccer, the fact that silver chloride will turn certain organic materials brown when it interacts with them, like, say, your skin and how to send someone a fuck-you-gram with less than ten minutes' thought) and I still rely on facts and figures and ideas learned in my favorite classes. But at this point, there's no way I could claim high school to be the best four years of my life with a straight face.

If I'd outlined my life ten years from graduation, the picture I would have painted would look something like this: after having gone to a kick-ass law school, I'd be practicing environmental law in a major city, either for an instant-name-recognition firm or for a Fortune 100 company. Husband, maybe. Kids, definitely not -- I've gotta make partner before I can consider children. House, awesome. And huge. (Clearly I didn't know much about real estate prices in major cities, but the house I envisioned would totally have been possible on my projected salary, if only I lived in Janesville. In which case my projected salary wouldn't have been all that accurate.) Political involvement, likely. I wasn't sure if it would be limited to volunteering/fundraising, or if I'd be lobbying or actually running for office, but it was in there. (Also a possibility -- being married to the candidate.)

When we did senior mentions or whatever they were called (you know, you vote for "Class Clown" and "Best Dressed" and "Most Athletic") I was a little miffed that I wasn't selected for "Most Likely to Be President." The title went to our Salutatorian, who also took home "Most Likely to Succeed" honors. I honestly didn't care about "Most Likely to Succeed." I already knew that my own assessment of my success was far more important than that of my classmates (thanks, middle school, for that valuable lesson!) and I think the electorate confused "perceived smartest" with "likely to be President" and I would just like to say, um, clearly not, and hello, people, WHY AM I NOT MOST LIKELY TO BE PRESIDENT????

Ahem. Am not bitter at all. (Why do I even remember this crap? Oh yeah, cuz I probably did the layout for it in the newspaper.)

My life all seems so natural to me. Sure, I got some of the details wrong, but I haven't really strayed that much from my high school vision. Still, I think a lot of my classmates will be surprised. My work? Maybe not that surprising. Living in California will definitely be a shock to some and will generate a lot of conversation among others. Being single and childless? I would hope that's expected, but I'm sure it'll surprise many.

At some point in college my goal became bringing someone shocking to our class reunion. (I wasn't really counting on having the obligatory spouse.) Perhaps that someone is me.


<< Home