I met an old friend out on the street
traded stories and out of date memories
and she has a photograph of me; it’s been such a slow decay, day to day
(did we seem much happier in those days?)
Less Than Jake | Sleep it Off
My ten-year high school reunion is in a week. The impending date with old friends got me thinking about my time in high school. By and large, I enjoyed my time in high school. My class was small, only seventeen or eighteen people, so while I definitely had my clique, I was on good terms with everyone in my class. I wasn’t particularly athletic, but I played soccer my senior year (my left shin is still pretty fucked up from the season). I excelled at Forensics (competitive speech), but I was always second place at our team awards, never winning MVP. I was Homecoming King my senior year; at the dance, the entire Homecoming Court danced to “Roll Out the Barrel” (how very Wisconsin). I technically shouldn’t have graduated—you were only allowed a total of twenty excused absences in a year, and I had something like thirty-five my senior year. Freshman year, my buddy and I were so advanced in computer class that the teacher eventually just let us play Age of Empires rather than give us busy work (confession—I essentially just copied his work without understanding anything).
These are all things that spring readily to mind. I have a million memories of high school, but it is so foggy when I try to remember the details. Like, I distinctly remember that my friends and I would spend time at a coffee shop, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what we did there. We drank Jones Soda, but how did we fill three hours of our day there? I think it was called “New Moon Café”, but it could’ve been called “Blue Moon” (but I think that was in downtown Oshkosh).
What the hell ever happened to Eric?! Senior year, he just sort of appeared, was accepted into our friend group (despite being a grade younger), got put into a psych hospital, came back to school for a week or two, and then he just…disappeared. And I only barely remember him, but for a few months, we were close friends.
When did I breakup with my girlfriend? We had been hanging out since the summer, but did we break up in the spring or that next summer? And why was I always so tense and high-strung? I’m not saying I would have married her, but I just remember being needlessly neurotic when dating her, which helped precipitate our breakup.
What was the deal with our theater/drama teacher? We were having a dress rehearsal the morning our show opened (it was either Anne of Green Gables or Annie), he went to get some costumes/props, and he then came back several hours later sans costumes/props. He looked wild-eyed and disheveled. I had a friend who always joked that he was an alcoholic—was that true?
What year was I a tutor? I remember I spent the period after lunch being a tutor to a…fourth grader? But year was that? I think Victoria was a tutor as well, so that would mean it would have to be junior year. I think the kid’s name was Ben. I always got the impression that he had a shitty home life, but I don’t know why I thought that.
All my memories are faded now. I am sure at the reunion, someone will tell a story, and I will respond, “Oh yeah, I remember that! I had forgotten about that.” But it will be a hazy recollection at best. Ten years is a long time. We are all older and have lived our lives. Marriages, kids, divorces. Grad school, jobs. Successes and failures. Most of my classmates will be little more than strangers I once knew. Then again, I am sure if I saw my eighteen-year-old self, I would be a stranger to myself.
Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.