Monday, March 9, 2009

Blast From the Past

For some reason I'm totally freaked out by this. I found some very old friends on Facebook, and have reconnected not only with them, but with the person I was back then.

My whole life has been a series of starting over, of getting settled somewhere, then having to move and be the new girl again. Seeing these pictures reminds me of who I was at that one moment in history, when I was for one of the only times in my life, well-adjusted. We lived in Houston, Texas, and I was about 13 years old in these pictures. We had moved to Houston from Beaumont, Texas in the middle of fifth grade, and I had to start school in March of the last year of grammar school with a bunch of kids who'd been together since kindergarten. It was fine, though, as they were all really nice kids, and my teacher was a particularly kind ex-football player, who loved to impress us by tearing the Houston white pages in half with his bare hands. I still remember being shown to his class that first day, while the students were all out at recess. He chose a desk for me which was next to a girl who he knew would be nice to me, and then he sat down beside me and kind of took me under his wing, saying "You are going to just love it here, and if anything happens that bothers you, you be sure to tell me."

The next year I went to Spring Forest Jr High School, which was right next door to Meadowwood Elementary where I had been for fifth grade. There I made a lot of new friends, and for the first time began to feel like I really belonged somewhere, like I was accepted, 'cool', able to just be, and go with whatever I felt. I remember so many little bits and pieces of those years, the trashy teenage books we read, walking to school from my house with friends, or walking home, having lunch in the cafeteria which played the cool local radio station over speakers during lunch. I still remember hearing "You're Sixteen" by Ringo Starr, "The Loco-Motion" by Grank Funk, "Rock On" by David Essex, "Hooked on a Feeling" by whoever that was ;-), "Nothin from Nothin" by Billy Preston. I remember smoking cigarettes for the first time on the back of the school bus on the way home, going to band class (where I was first chair flute for many a month) and having sleepovers and painting our fingernails crazy colors. And I remember the crushes I had on various boys, the first time I remember really thinking about the opposite sex: Karl Gruhlkey, John Mays, and the ultimate crush of all times (and quite ironic in that he and I were both shy and NEVER said a word to each other) Dennis Blaine. I was pretty, I had friends, and I loved my life.

Now I look at these images of myself and get really sad. I miss that girl, and I find myself wondering who I would have been if I had stayed in Houston instead of moving first to Pensacola, Florida, then back to Rome, Georgia. I know it's ridiculous to even go there, but I honestly think I would have been a very different person, more secure and less self-conscious, happier maybe, more myself somehow, the me who is hidden under all these damn layers.

Anyway, thanks to Sarah and Kelly and Hale for welcoming me back into the Texas fold. It is wonderful.


El Jefe Maximo said...

I have recently been rediscovering old connections on Facebook, also. It was so nice to run into you again.

I've moved a lot, like you, and it's interesting sometimes to go counterfactual on your own life and wonder how we might have all worked out differently had we not made this move; taken that job -- etc. I wonder myself if I might have wound up more secure/less shy when I was younger, had things worked differently.

But here we are. We really are the sum total of all those things, good and bad. Not that this is any great revelation I suppose -- but technology lets us think about it much more.

Ingrid said...

Hi J --
I hear you on the moving around. Between birth and age 17, I lived in 6 states and went to five elementary schools and two high schools -- all as a result of family moves. The only reason I went to UGA was because we left Atlanta when I was in 11th grade, and I wanted desperately to be back with my friends. So see - that turned out to be a great move! I didn't see my high school friends much after our freshman year in college - no, make that fall quarter - but look at all the lifelong friends I made instead.