Tomorrow, I am embarking on a weekend of adventure that will have me riding back and forth through a time continuum…present, past and future. I am meeting up with a new friend named Neil (who I have not yet met in person) who contacted me via someone who teaches a workshop that I also facilitate. This lovely soul is offering me a thai massage session and who am I to turn THAT down? Following what I know will be an exquisite experience, I will be heading to Maryland to visit with Nancy, a friend I have known for the past 5 or 6 years. She has graciously agreed to host me overnight so that I can arise bright and early (and in the same town) and speak at the On Purpose Woman Conference in Columbia, MD. I am focusing on the subject of Abundant Self Love. Since we teach what we need to learn, I chose that topic, as it is my own growing edge. Can anyone else relate to that? I am guessing so. If you feel you have it mastered, please enlighten me! Eager to connect with many new friends, since we so enrich each other’s lives when we meet heart to heart and face to face. Within a heart beat after the event, I am sprouting wings and zipping northward to my 35th High School Reunion in New Jersey. WHEW!
That is where this story really begins. I grew up in a middle class, suburban South Jersey neighborhood called Pennypacker Park in Willingboro, New Jersey. It was one of the three origninal Levittowns, (PA and NY being the other two) that were created following WWII as affordable housing for returning vets. I think that the Malvina Reynolds’ song called Little Boxes was written for them. There were three different models that alternated and repeated all the way down the streets. I graduated from one of the two high schools. Mine was called Willingboro High School, that was built after John F. Kennedy High School couldn’t accomodate the growing population. One of its claims to fame was that Olypmic athlete Carl Lewis also graduated from our school (in my sister’s class of 1979).
For the most part, I enjoyed school. Busy with classes, extracurricular activities like Homecoming Committee, Jr. and Sr. Prom Committees, Drama Club, Student Government, The Z Club, Ecology Club, Swim Team, I had a full immersion experience AND YET, (she writes wistfully) I still felt like that ‘alien baby left on my parents’ doorstep’ as I have described here before. I had friends all across the spectrum, but still felt like the odd woman out. For most of my life, I have lived this paradigm of not quite feeling like ‘one of the cool kids'; whatever the heck that actually means. I also wondered what it would be like to breeze through life, accepted without having to second guess what people expected and adjusting my sails according to which way the wind was blowing. Part of the budding co-dependent tendencies, I suppose. I viewed many of my classmates as having that coveted role, although, quite likely they too were harboring their own insecurities. So, as the reunion loomed (I had never attended any previously), I was faced with a mix of excitement and a mild bit of anxiety. What if everyone else STILL seems more together or confident? What if, when I step through the door, I still feel like I need to batten down the hatches against my own tidal wave emotions? Hand me a ‘drama-mine’ (dramamine) for my e-motion sickness, please. Last night, I was perusing my year book and smiled, laughed and teared up a bit as I gazed at those faces and wondered these things:
“I have such mixed emotions and a sense of compassion for the part of me that never felt like ‘one of the cool kids’, not quite fitting in to one particular clique, even though I had friends in all the different social strata. As I look at all of these faces, I laugh at the fashion and hairstyles, (uber ’70’s) and wonder what my classmates were thinking at that time. Were they excited, confident, nervous, scared shitless to be launching out into the world? I know I was a little of all of those things. At the back of the yearbook were tidbits about us. I was dubbed “Head Kidnapper” by some of my friends, since I orchestrated a birthday kidnapping of our friend Carolyn West that we blindfolded and took to an ice cream parlor. I had aspirations of becoming a Psychologist….never did…Social Worker/Author/Journalist/Speaker/Minister/Clown instead. Wonder what we will discover about ourselves by the end of the night. ?”
I invite you to share your experiences of high school and/or your reunions.
http://youtu.be/nQuRtbx1qOQ Through The Years-Kenny Rogers
http://youtu.be/2_2lGkEU4Xs Little Boxes-Malvina Reynolds