Today I emailed my high school driver's ed teacher an email of appreciation for teaching me how to drive so that I could one day get a job as a bus driver, fall in love with it, and have my life be changed forever in a good way. I think I just may have brightened someone's day today.
Said email encouraged me to take a looksee at my high school's website and take a little stroll down memory lane. Oh, Mr. Anderson (who called me Gards all year... I don't even know if he knows my first name). Mr. Aikens (how proud he would be to know I'm taking astronomy again). Mr. Yates (what a mug shot! seriously. He didn't get me excited for math... but he sure did wake me up to it with his booming coach voice, that's for sure).
I wonder if my high school self would be proud of my college self. Embarrassed? Shocked? Accepting?
I think high school me would be pleased to look at 21-year-old me and see that I'm not a raging alcoholic and that I'm still doing well in school. I think she would be a little sad that I don't feel as connected to God as she is, but I think that she would be understanding of that, given the circumstances. I think she would be a bit bummed to know that I'm still this awfully awkward excuse for a human being around boys and that she hasn't outgrown that quite yet. I think she would be happy to know that 21-year-old me can still relate to her, but I think she would look at 21-year-old me and also know that she could learn from me, because I have grown a bit since high school. I don't think she would believe me when I would tell her that I'm getting into running. She may or may not believe the bus driving thing... I think for her, my choice in being a bus driver would be an accurate prediction... it just seems like something I would do.
I think she would be really bummed that I never kept up with piano, or photography, or something artsy and creative. I think she would be bummed at how I don't always stand up for myself and I still let people walk all over me. I think she would be happy to know that hurts from the past haven't affected who I am to the point where who I am now is a person I would have never wanted to become. I think she would be the most bummed to know how different all her friendships will become... most of which for the worse, but in some cases, not the worst. She would be bummed to know that some of her expectations were not met. She would be sad to know how sad these first couple years really were for me, and how it's taken me up to my junior/senior year of college to really start living. I think she would have wanted me to start living a lot earlier. I don't think she ever bought into the idea that Bennies should marry Johnnies, so I don't think she would care too much that I'm still single.
Would she be proud of me, though? Even though I know she would be bummed at the way a lot of things turned out... would she still be proud of me? Would she think that I did everything I could? Would she be proud to be me? I don't know.
I do miss high school, believe it or not. I at least miss the idea of high school. I miss having a locker! I miss the hallways. I miss the classrooms. I miss being in classes with people I've known either since the start of high school, or the start of elementary school. Even now, four years into college, it still feels so unfamiliar.
Would it have been different if I followed the rest of my graduating class to U of I, or Illinois State, or Harper? What about if I had gone to Aquinas instead of St. Ben's? What if I had transferred my sophomore year? What if, instead my apartment on the east side of campus with some of my very good friends, I was living on campus at DePaul University, or off campus in one of those cool apartments/townhomes in the Lincoln Park neighborhood? Why did that suffocating feeling happen that one night my sophomore year of college that made me rethink my entire solid decision to transfer and make me decide to stay here instead? What has happened in the past year to justify this decision? What if? How does one follow the movements of the spirit? How does one understand until way after the fact? How do I know that right now I am exactly where I am meant to be?
I think right now I'm craving the familiar. I would love to go back in time and relive just one day from high school... some boring day where nothing particularly exciting happened... just to remember what it was like to be surrounded by people who knew me, who were there when things happened, who never had to ask me getting-to-know-you-questions because they already knew, and they already lived it with me. I want that. I miss that.
But right now... here I am, a 21-year-old female, almost ready to graduate from college, still similar to who I was in high school and yet so different. As I stood there for the past 3 years of my life with my world crashing around me, with the earth shaking and crumbling beneath me, the smoke is clearing and I'm finding that I'm still standing here, solidly, on my own two feet. And I think knowing that I've survived these past 3 years is giving me courage to continue for the rest of my life. And that's pretty sweet.