The weather has turned these past couple of days, and fall is slowly but surely creeping in. Coincidentally or not, there has been a flurry of recent connections with high school people, and I've realized that twenty years ago I was about to start my senior year. And I'm a little conflicted about the intervening years, to tell you the truth.
First, and I've said this before, I think I sort of stopped growing emotionally around age 14. While I may look different than I did in high school, I don't feel any different. And the truth is, high school was the worst 4 years of my life. That's not to say that some good stuff didn't happen, because it did, but all in all it wasn't my finest moment. I was odd. I am still odd. And argumentative and liberal and compelled to stick up for the underdog. I still speak my mind, even when it isn't exactly appropriate, and I still wear my heart on my sleeve.
I am also still restless and uncertain of my place in the world, and slightly concerned that I am destined (or doomed) to not follow a traditional path. I suspect the only person surprised by this is me (and maybe my Dad), but I am, in fact, surprised. If I were to describe myself, I might say: I'm 37, single, childless, living in my sister's house with my niece's cat, and trying to figure out how to be a writer on my own terms. I have a history of failed relationships with men who, for a variety of reasons, were incapable of being in love with anyone, least of all me. I earned a BA and an MPA, but still have a hard time remembering to put gas in my car. I am painfully self-aware and I like to knit socks.
I mean, really.
Don't get me wrong - it's not been all about my quirks. I did some really great work in Maine that I'm proud of. I know I made a difference, even if a tiny one, and that makes me happy. But in a sea of vaguely familiar faces, most shadowed by a spouse or a kid, it's kind of hard not to feel...like an outsider. In other words, exactly how I felt back in high school. And a little anxious, cold and clammy, to be quite honest.
But then I remember a certain kid I grew up with, and how when we were 4 and 5 we'd play on the stone wall that separated our houses. And how I didn't talk to him for years, and the next thing I knew he was wheeling my grandfather's body out of the Veteran's home. A few years later, we chased a cat out of the church sanctuary that decided to attend my aunt's funeral (seriously, only in Waterford...). Whatever unpleasantness, or silence, in the years between had dissipated, and I was happy for it. I hope that's true for everybody else that I left in the dust along the way, or who left me in the dust along their way. Because, as much as I doubted it twenty years ago, there actually is a little bit of us in all of us. And I don't mind so much anymore.