Archives for the month of: August, 2013

Revisiting glory days past, and catching up on the achievements of the present, many of my classmates were at the 20 year reunion recently. I thought about going. There are some very intelligent people I went to school with, and I’m sure they’re doing some pretty amazing stuff. Most of my classmates went to Ivy League schools, or at least private liberal arts colleges. I couldn’t quite make the cut, NHS pin and all.

Nostalgia and facebook are a dangerous combination.

While I am drawn to people’s now, what deterred me was the thought of conversation focused on then. Those sentences beginning with “Remember when you…” Or “Remember that time….?” No. No, I don’t, actually. Much of that time has been conveniently deleted. I enjoyed school, the classroom was a safe place for me. But outside the classroom I watched society life from the outside. I had my few friends, and we generally kept to ourselves–a moderately easy task in a school of 800 students. I learned to navigate three spheres: classroom, church youth group, and my friends. Three different sets of expectations. Three different performance scripts to learn. Apparently that kind of identity-shifting has become the norm.

My home life was not terribly picturesque. The lack of photo evidence from that period is telling in that regard. My family was not in the habit of documenting choir competitions, theatre after parties, or sleepovers. And I have since let go of old journals from that time as well. Moving every few years will naturally slim the shelves.

8thGradeMe

yes, those frames are back in style

One person wrote when attempting to scrounge up images, “We are from one of the last years where we actually had to go down and spend a fortune on developing pictures, there was no instant gratification or tablet editing for our photos, …we took our pictures much more serious…”
Thinking about that, I was suddenly transported back to a time when the year book was a big deal. We would sit and comb through the pages to see if we made the cut. For me the feeling was a mix of desire and dread. I wanted desperately to be seen…but not like that. Not through the eyes of peers who didn’t know me and only saw the baggy clothes and larger than my face eyewear. Of course my friends knew me. But somehow that wasn’t enough. I wanted smart people to recognize me as a smart person. I wanted class comedians to see me as funny. I wanted attractive people to help me become more attractive. I lived in an overwhelming yearning for affirmation.

And then it was over. We graduated. I headed off to a state school while others went on to work or travel or big brick institutions in the east. The years roll by. Life continues on.

I thought about going. But I just didn’t want to go back there. Maybe the next one.

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Apparently, in my mid-ish 30s, I have hit another growth spurt. I’m calling it the nothing fits developmental phase. As the name suggests, it’s a time when nothing fits. I’m sure if I were on the latest diet and going to the gym like they tell me I ought, I wouldn’t be going through this. But, psycho-babble and consumption politics aside, I am truly experiencing a time when nothing fits. Clothes are a little tighter. Relationships are shifting and shrinking. Work I normally enjoy grates on the nerves. Everything feels too…too… uncomfortable.

I once thought that by such-and-such an age I would have found my niche, and seamlessly melded into a place or profession that was so homey I would never want to leave. Over the years, though, I haven’t been able to get my brain to contort and fit into whichever desired skill set is needed at the time. After graduating from college I remember feeling lost, and now, after a master’s, that same feeling is creeping back, shuffling towards me with zombie-like constancy. A mumbled refrain comes to mind about not really having marketable skills and experience each time I start to ask, what color is my parachute? But I refuse to join the ranks of master’s-wielding baristas in this java junkie town.

IMGP0626Fit is a two-way street, though. (Less so in the clothing department, that one’s pretty straightforward.) For example, I feel at home in the classroom because I have something to offer, and also more to learn. I enjoy my job when my talents are put to use, and I am challenged to develop further. There is a reciprocation of good in fit. When something no longer fits, that can mean we’ve grown out of it. And if we’ve grown out of it, then what? I mean, I’ve “grown” out of a couple pairs of pants, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. And, what about the other side, the growing into side? Too big for a size x, but not yet big enough for a y is a very strange place to be.

Which is exactly where I find myself these days: stuck in a convergence zone of no longers and not quites.

And so I write. That’s the craziest part of all. Fingers to keyboard, plunking out story bits without a plot line worked out. I want to reach the next rung. I want to make that next faithful step. If only it were visible. … What am I growing into? … What are you reaching up to grasp? … What are we expecting…anticipating…hoping to receive?