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Thanks again for reading this blog. I am humbled by your interest in our lives. The highs keep coming. Three days after this Giant Day, I had another gift: going to our 20th high school reunion! High school really wasn’t that meaningful for me; it basically got me to where I wanted to go. But I felt I needed to honor the importance of high school. My donor Xavier died 3 months before his high school graduation. High school is the only chance of young adult life he got. So for him, I had to go.
Once a month, I facilitate a writing group for a local hospice, and the assignment for the group was to write about a ‘first’: first date, first kiss, etc. So I will share my short essay about my ‘first’. I hope you enjoy it:
Saturday night was the first time I felt equal. I found myself surrounded my fellow 38 year olds, many of with whom I attended grade school, junior high and high school. We sheepishly glanced the room. With a burst of enthusiasm, with open wide embraces, we reached out to kids we remembered that were now parents themselves.
I made it to my 20th high school reunion. I went only because I could. I never ever, ever imagined I would survive this long so I had to go. I didn’t actually have any desire to meet people I knew once in high school. My 5 or 6 friends with whom I keep in touch are really all that matter to me. Many of them wanted to go, so I thought I’d go along with them.
But here I was in a hotel ballroom overlooking the foggy ocean, celebrating school pride as the Class of 1990. Pacific Palisades High School.
My parents bought an affordable home in a bedroom community in 1972. As time passed, they didn’t expect to raise their children along with Hollywood producers, movie stars, and corporate executives. Out of control kids who seemed to have it all, many of whom were knee deep in a world of image, opportunity, drugs and alcohol.
“Shallow” is how a classmate sums up the culture of the Palisades.
One of the cool girls, “Sharice” (how could she not be cool with a name like that?) said to me on Saturday, that she didn’t like Pali High because it was too “unsupervised”. Unsupervised? Huh. “Sharice” was one of them, those tall blond absolutely drop dead gorgeous babes. When I hugged some of those babes awkwardly, I could feel their vertebrae. At 38, 3 children later, I had to doubt they could be that thin without a DSM diagnosis. But she was a school psychologist now.
And “Stella Applegate” was just like her. I couldn’t take my eyes off her and I’m straight- was now a lawyer. Her tight thigh-high dress hugged her little butt and maybe it was her butt that I couldn’t take my eyes off. Wow. She looks like a model. And “Drew” who dropped out getting caught up in drugs is now in law enforcement.
But somehow, back in high school, I found friends – just a handful of them- that I could relate to. Insecurity is what we had in common, and a drive to placate that insecurity not with drugs and alcohol but with academics. Those friends were there, offering an invisible blanket of comfort, and we laughed, danced, and talked smack about the people in the room.
We left the reunion and waited for the valet outside. We watched our drunk classmate screaming and cursing to the taxi driver, as he and the hotel doorman called the cop. I was going home. Northern California, where I belonged.
I came to the conclusion that going to Palisades High School was the hardest place for a teenager girl to go. I wasn’t popular, I didn’t hang out late at night. I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t have boyfriends who surfed or grew weed.
But 20 years is a long time, and I’ve come far.
That night, I was tall. I had a real bra on. I FINALLY had contact lenses. My sister and friends are still with me, and I have a loving husband who patiently witnessed this adult rite of passage.
I wasn’t one of them, but I was actually glad, and okay with it. I didn’t have a job I could brag about but I could say I was really, really happy with where I am today. That’s all that matters.
This was the first time I felt it was all alright.
- Isa 8/16/10