Friday, June 26, 2009

Memories And Introspection

"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it." ~ Michel de Montaigne

Today's post is just a sort of a personal catharsis for me. It is written to help me cope. Don't read it if you don't want to.

Over on Facebook, a member of my high school graduating class, Karen W, has posted photos of our 40th High school reunion that was held earlier this month. I wasn't able to go.

Memories rushed back to me, as Firesign Theatre says, "like a hot kiss at the end of a wet fist"
I wanted to make some nice comments on the photos, but I am not on her Facebook friends list, which apparently is a prerequisite to making comments about anything to anyone, specifically, on Facebook. I still don't understand Facebook yet, although I have enjoyed posting some of my blogposts in the "notes" application. I think---at least, I hope they bug my Liberal relatives.

So, I made a request to add me to her friends list. So I can comment. I don't know that she will add me. I don't think she likes me very much, if at all.

I had a tremendous crush on her in High School, but I doubt she ever knew that. I went to my 10 year reunion, and while there, I asked her to dance. She declined. It was kind of a slap in the face to my mind. It still hurts somewhat.

I got over it, but...

It probably wasn't anything personal at all, and she probably doesn't even remember the encounter. She most likely had her reasons, and they probably don't include whether she liked me or not.

OK, at this point you're likely wondering why I seem to think she would dislike me.

When I was in high school, I was extremely obnoxious, believe it or not! Seriously. If anyone thinks I'm obnoxious now, believe me, you wouldn't have wanted to know me then. I have improved tremendously since then. And, I'm still a work in progress. I don't remember if I shared any classes with Karen, but I'm sure my reputation preceded me.

Memories are funny things, you know? I really don't remember much of my school days. I've always assumed that I blocked unpleasant memories out, hence, there are few things left to remember.

My School days are not memories I consider particularly pleasant.

Here are some things I do remember:

As I mentioned, I had a crush on Karen, and I don't think she ever knew. I was shy. Really. At least, with the girls. She had an ever-present boyfriend, named Paul. He was at this years reunion. Karen has pictures of them standing together. Almost as if they had never gone their separate ways after school was over. They still look good together, only now, I don't fantasize about making him disappear.

Then, there is a picture of Deb M, and Vickie W, and Bill T. All I remember about Deb is that she was a cute girl and still is.

Vickie? Up until now, I thought Vickie was dead! Her name was very similar to one of BTK's victims and I had always assumed that's who she was. Fortunately, she wasn't. Not so fortunate for the girl I thought she was.

I think Bill was on the Basketball team, but I may be mistaking him for someone else.

Mark H: His name is familiar, and I still remember his yearbook picture, but that's all I remember about him. He was the classmate who was charged with finding me to invite me to the reunion, and since then, he has sent me several personal messages. As if we are old, dear, friends. That's OK. Can't have enough friends, right?

Sharon R: The girl I was assigned to march beside into our graduation ceremony. By the way, she didn't remember who she marched in with until I told her. I don't think I knew her well then, but she has become a friend to me on Facebook. Apparently, she has never married. But, I don't know. I haven't asked.

Ray K. and Karen H: Knew who they were but didn't know them. I do remember Karen wore a pair of really ugly white framed glasses! They would probably be back in style now. I remember Ray as a nerd.

Then, there's Paula S. Ah, Paula! Paula was my first wife. Well, not really. During a Sadie Hawkins day dance and race at our Junior high school, Paula threatened to catch and marry me. She did. I was the shortest boy in school at the time, and she was the tallest girl. What a sight that must have been! From the photos, she's still tall.

Susan O, Rosie M, Debbie H, and Tim B: Susan was a cheerleader, and so was Debbie.I didn't know them well. Oh, I forgot to mention, Karen W, the girl I had the crush on, was a cheerleader, too.

Rosie: Her locker was right next to mine. She was a delightful girl with a great sense of humor. Her and I talked everyday because of the placement of our lockers. She's a teacher now.

Tim, I found out at the 10 year reunion, is a doctor now. He was a nerd in High school.

Gary M: He married a girl who lived just around the corner from me. I played sandlot sports with her younger brother. He was pretty talented. We once convinced Gary to play some tackle football with us in the vacant lot across the street from my house. He broke his ankle in the game. Sandy, who later became Gary's wife, was pretty angry at us for that, but he was the one who stepped over the curb! Later, when I was living in Kansas City, I attended a state Championship football game in Lawrence, Kansas. My old High school defeated Lawrence High School for the State Championship that year. I ran into Gary there.

Don A: In the current photo, he looks much the same as he did then, except older. I seem to remember him wearing a light blue short sleeve dress shirt. I doubt he wore it everyday, but that's how I remember him.

Funny what you remember.

Ah, Stephanie F: Stephanie was a particularly nice girl in school. She always treated me with respect and kindness, and I had something of a crush on her, too. I even considered asking her out, but I didn't have the nerve. Good thing I didn't. As it turned out, she was secretly married all through her senior year. To a semi-professional football player. She looked like Nicki Cox, the actress.

Sheila A, and Barbara K: I remember their names, but that's about all. Except I think Barbara slumped a little when she stood. Maybe not.

Peggy B: I remember she was nice. And cute. And short. Seems her and I were not enemies.

Bruce B, and Brigette V: Bruce was Peggy S's boyfriend, and I remember he went looking for me once, and not to exchange hello's and greetings, either. Something a little heavier than hello's and greetings. There was a misunderstanding, as I recall. He was under the impression I had insulted his girlfriend, Peggy. I had not. The fight (or beating) never took place.

Brigette was head cheerleader. She wasn't the best looking cheerleader at all. She was actually pretty plain, but she had a wonderful effervescent personality, that more than made up for her physical shortcomings. She sat next to me in one of my classes. She was always friendly and bubbly. I liked her. Everyone did. After school, she seemed to drop out of sight. She didn't attend the 10 year reunion and there was speculation that she was having a hard time making a life for herself. I don't know if that's true or not, but here she is, at the 40 year reunion, so she didn't die, at least.

I don't know of any of my High School classmates who have died. Every year, in our school, a student died. It was always a senior. Except when my class were seniors. That year, it was a sophomore. Weird, huh?

Memories. Some good, some bad.

Which leads me to look back at my life over the years, introspectively.

I wonder if others are as dissatisfied with things as they turned out as I am. I look back over the years and I see a life littered with missed opportunities, lost chances, wrong decisions.

I rarely took a risk. I allowed myself to be pushed to the side and watched many of my friends go on to bigger and better things.

I took a chance once that worked out rather nicely, but for the most part, whenever I took a chance, it didn't.

I answered an ad for a job, and when I was interviewed, it turned out that it was to be a direct sales job that paid only a draw against commission. I am not good at sales. I have trouble justifying a high price in my head, so consequently, I cannot justify it to customers.

I didn't want the job, but I was unemployed, with a newborn baby, and just about to fall back onto Welfare. The only reason I took the job was the first two weeks were to be paid training. $250.00 a week guaranteed for two weeks. I figured I could stay for the $500.00, and look for something better in the meantime.

I stayed with the company 13 years, and was quite successful, until surgery on my vocal chords to remove a possibly malignant growth afforded me the opportunity to look at what I was doing with my life, and I didn't like what I saw.

So, I quit.

As it turned out, that was fortunate for me. A few years later, law suits and government intervention put that huge nation-wide corporation completely out of business. If I had stayed, I would have been forced out of my job.

In one of the rare personal conversations with one of my brothers, he hung his head, shook it slowly, and said, "Mark, you are the unluckiest person I know".

He is the luckiest person I know.

We all know we make our own luck, right? Remember the old truism, "The harder you work, the luckier you get"?

That's true. Except with my brother. I'm not kidding. Fortune literally falls into his lap. You would like to hate him for that, but you can't. He's just too nice a guy. He is also very humble about his continual good luck. Who can hate a guy like that?

But that, too, has it's drawbacks.

As I explained to him in the same conversation, "If anything catastrophic ever befell you, you'd turn into jelly. You aren't used to calamity. You'd fall apart". He acknowledged that is true. On the other hand, Catastrophes happen to me every day. They are like water off a ducks back to me. Every setback I experience is only a minor speed bump in my road. I pick myself up and go on as if nothing happened. I believe I am stronger for my experiences. My brother agrees.

This, I believe, is God's way of preparing me for future calamities in my life and my family's lives. When the pain sets in, I will be the one they will look to for comfort and guidance. Because I can handle adversity.

I have been trained well.

Don't get the wrong idea, though. I don't want that responsibility. I'd rather let someone else, someone more competent, someone smarter, someone who enjoys being responsible, someone who can take criticism better, do the job.

But if this is my lot in life, I will accept it, and work with what I have, and be what God created me to be.

Like it or not.


Edwin Drood said...

I too have a facebook account and keep up with all my high school classmates and even “facebook-friended” a girl whom I wanted to date before, during and after high school.
In retrospect I wished she could have lived on in my memory as I had remembered her from high school, not as the person she grew up to be. She’s an attractive normal mother of two with nothing to be ashamed of, but they eyes of young man in high school painted a better picture than the ones uploaded to a website.

BB-Idaho said...

My 50th HS reunion this year. Haven't been to any, won't be at this one. For some of us, time changes and we move on, ya know?