I have this recurring dream about high school. It always involves my locker. Class lets out and I get to my locker and cannot remember my combination. I struggle and struggle and turn the dial every which way with no success. Erika is always there, of course, because she was and still is my bestest friend. Saturday night, I had the dream again. Mine and Erika's lockers were beside one another. We got there, and she opened her locker with ease as I struggled and struggled with my lock. I get anxious just thinking about the dream - knowing I need to get inside the locker and knowing I have the combination in my brain but being unable to do it. I finally got it right, and when I took the lock off, I saw that it was glass on the back and it had shattered. So I had to take it to the office and have it replaced. I am sure a shrink could have a hay day with this one. I have no idea what it all means (other than the fact that I was extremely insecure all through high school and still am), but I know why I dreamed it.
Friday night, our youth football organization had a recognition night at our high school football game. Each weight division got to walk across the field with their coaches. If you ask me, it was a great way for the high school to make an extra fortune off of the game itself. The little players were free, but parents paid $6 a pop and were guilted into innumerable purchases at the concession stand. Oh, and I failed to mention the $5 it cost to park. I don't recall it costing that much to attend a football game back in my day, but it appears things have changed a bit. Anyway...
This is the first high school event I have attended since, well, high school. It was amazing to feel the emotions of the stadium. To watch the boys and girls walking around, all decked out in the latest fashions and trends, chomping their chewing gum and chatting with friends. To see the boys looking at the girls, and the girls looking at the boys. There were still the clear definition of groups - the insiders, the outsiders, and the ones who could float between. The cheerleaders, the band members, the preppy kids, the scary looking kids - it is all the same. As the players waited behind the big paper run-through, the cheerleaders gathered around and a huge group of students swarmed the end zone. They started a chant: "It's great to be a Thompson Warrior." They repeated for several minutes, each time with more fervor and excitement than before. And I turned to one of the mothers beside me and commented, "They are having so much fun. I wish I could feel like that again." Not a care in the world. The most important thing to those kids out there on the field was for their team to win that night and that maybe they would get a text (not a phone call these days) from that special some one later on. No bills. No real worries.
Not that the worries of a teenager aren't real to them. I can remember the pain of those years. I usually felt ugly and fat and acne stricken. I wasn't a member of any specific group - not a cheerleader, not athletic, not Miss Popularity. I was shy and awkward and unsure. Never really had a boyfriend. I struggled to feel liked and included, as I am sure most teenagers do. But my life was carefree. I had a roof over my head, food in the pantry, and a phone line that worked every day. What more could a girl ask for?? So would I trade the carefree feelings of those days long gone if I had to feel the intense emotions of that phase of life? Definitely not. Watching those teenage girls walk around the high school stadium, I literally hurt for them. So much pressure to be beautiful. Longing to be loved and adored by an undeserving boy. Worried about the whispers behind your back and the laughs around every corner that could possibly be about you. I would never go back to those days. I may be 31 - an age while in high school that sounded so old to me - but I am more secure in who I am than I ever dreamed possible. That doesn't mean I don't battle the same insecurities of the past. It just means I handle it differently these days. It doesn't mean I don't long to feel liked and included today. I just have standards for the types of people with whom I want to feel included. It is a crazy, weird game this growing up thing. And all along the way, you loose parts and pieces of who you thought you were, picking up even more you never dreamed you'd be.