Returning To High School
Walking down the hallway, you are surrounded by teenagers. Your ears are overwhelmed by the sounds of talking, laughing, books dropping, lockers slamming, and bags of food opening. On your right, a young man pushes by you on his way to class. On your left, two girls, though having heard the bell, remain at their lockers, discussing what they did the night before. Were it not for your friend leading the way back to her classroom, you’d bolt for the closest exit.
For the next six weeks, I’m going to be working at my friend’s high school, directing/co-writing a play. I never thought I would return to high school, but, here I am, listening to a religious movie on the second flood. My old wounds are wide open, dripping insecurity all over the classroom carpet. Though I am now on the other side of the desk, so to speak, I am once again seventeen, dying for the bell to ring.
Her students want to know about me. What am I doing here? How many more days will they see me? They want to hear about my personal life, hoping I’ll have a piece of information that would make for some decent gossip. They want the dirt on my friend. As we both lead rather boring lives, there is nothing to tell. They don’t believe me. One says she’ll find something out for everyone else. I had forgotten how a teenager’s mind operated until now.
Until we are faced with reminders of the past, we don’t realize how much we left back there. Even if we remembered things otherwise, we now clearly see that things weren’t as perfect back then as we once tricked ourselves into believing they were. I was even more shy back then than I am now. Everything was the end of the world. A paper deadline was enough to bring on a panic attack. I didn’t have loads of friends because I was kind of snob and too private to let many people in. I wasn’t involved in many extracurricular activities because I was too scared to fail. Unlike her students, I didn’t have enough nerve to develop an attitude. If a teacher told me to cut my arm off or I’d fail, I’d figure out a way to live with one arm. High school for me was a four year period created for people to grow and learn before college and the real world. I don’t know where the teenagers in these teenage movies find the time to do the things they do.
Even with my adult bills and worries, I can’t imagine going back to high school as a student. Though noticeably older, I am also noticeably wiser. Over the past seven years, I have been through enough to be able to differentiate between a dramatic problem and a true crisis. Tempting as it would be to take someone up on a hypothetical offer to go back in time to high school so I could undo some things I deem to be “wrongs,” I wouldn’t. Without those wrongs, would I be the person I am today?
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