Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Looking Back, the Way I Saw It

They were all there: the Cute Boys and the Mean Girls, the Wallflowers and the Late Bloomers, The Ones Who Tried Too Hard and the Ones Who Gave Up Too Soon,  the Golden Ones and the Ones Whose Lives Got Tarnished. The Cool Kids clustered together, and those of us who looked from the outside in back then still spent part of our evening 40 years later doing it now.

That's how it looked if you didn't bother to look again, anyway. I am learning that we all felt like An Other in 1973 and the only difference between the Wallflowers and the Mean Girls was that we let our insecurities eat away at us while they let theirs feed on others. That's a bit of wisdom I wish I could time travel back and impart to my 14 year old self.

But now, all these decades later, we discovered cracks in the walls where grace has gained some foothold. Time has a way of softening the edges of all the hard memories, just as it has softened our jowls, blurred our vision, and dulled our hearing. Forty years is plenty enough time to hold a heartache before letting it go, and more than enough time to watch a bridge burn and be grateful that the embers no longer have the power to burn our feet.

My own handful of closest friends back in those days were there, and I hope that they know just how much their presence in my life -- when we were all trying to find our safest places --saved me. They let me in their boat back then, when all the rules had changed for me, and I cannot thank them enough for letting me right back in despite all the time we let get away from us.
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**
There were folks I hardly recognized. Some had grown into the awkward features their teenage years had saddled them with, and others had finally relaxed and let themselves go, and yet what had changed about none of us were our eyes and our smiles. There were so many of those last Saturday night. 

There were shared memories, good ones, mostly, because it was a night for fun. I cannot speak for anyone else, but the older I get the more the more delighted I am to find other people who remember why we weren't supposed to go out with the boys in Chisholm (although I did) and how disobeying our mothers and driving "across the bypass" was just about the most exciting thing ever. There was talk of Shakey's Pizza, of teachers who pinched and paddled, of harmonies sung in the cafeteria, and of the classmates who died too soon. 

We snuck out of houses together, yards got rolled, we suffered through slam books and sweltering days in class with nothing but squeaking metal fans to keep us cool. We wondered aloud if Sadie Hawkins dances still happen anywhere, and if kids might still be as in awe of any of the adults in their school as we were of Mrs. Jones, Mrs. McClurkin, Mrs. Rahn, or Coach Garner. 

If pressed, I'm sure The Cheerleaders would have remembered every step to the routine they did to "Tears of a Clown" as easily as we Glee Club Members would have remembered all the harmonies to "Battle Hymn of the Republic." I am not so sure the Football Team would have fared well in a scrimmage, but I have no doubt they'd have been game to try. 

                                       

**

There was a supermoon the night of the reunion. It was apt. 

We shone so brightly in 1973, and for a couple hours last weekend we did again. 



Photographs courtesy of Thomas Lucas Photography

8 comments:

  1. Oh, my goodness! That is so beautifully said, Eleanor! I'm so glad you had a great night! Was it just Floyd, do you think? Such a special place! When my class of '79 had a reunion a few years back, people wondered why my 'junior high class' was having a reunion. I just said, 'I guess it's hard to understand. It was different.' Most of us grew up together...from first grade on. Maybe that was it. Thanks for putting it into words!

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    1. Thank you, Barbara. I suspect a lot of things about junior high/high school are universal feelings... but Shakey's was OURS!! (Was it still an ongoing concern when you came along?)

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  2. Eleanor, this is amazing.... and so true! Several of us who were not able to come have already said how much we'd love to come to the next one. We aren't the ONLY ones who have changed, if you know what I mean :) Yes, Floyd was a very remarkable, memorable place. Everyone who darkened the halls of that school share a special bond! We continue to revere those adults who taught us, and wonder why generations to follow show such utter disrespect for educators who give so much of themselves. Much of this goes back to our parents and the way we were raised. I truly believe that those of us who went on to Lanier and were moved the summer of '74 unwillingly---even tearfully---to Carver, Jeff Davis, or Lee, were broken hearted and longed for the days we'd spent with each other as a cohesive group at Floyd. Life has passed by much more quickly than we ever dreamed, hasn't it? Thank you for sharing pictures and experiences from the reunion with all of us!

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    1. Thank you, Elaine. I wound up at St. James, so felt even MORE exiled after our sophomore year at Lanier. I still view myself as an alum of Floyd and Lanier, despite my diploma. Please do come for the next one -- we have put Floyd Class of '74 on notice!

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  3. Good Job Eleanor, I was one of the wall flowers, in school and I felt like a little bit still, on Saturday night.

    You encompassed so much that was in my heart that my husband and I talked about when I returned home.

    I blogged about it as well. We should have coffee together. What school did not bring together in friendship, perhaps this reunion can.


    http://www.dianewbailey.net/2013/06/26/because-we-carry-one-anothers-story/?fb_source=pubv1

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    1. Thank you, Diane. I enjoyed reading your blog, too!

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    2. Sheryl Otter CaspariJune 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      Great job Eleanor and your son has an amazing talent also!

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  4. Very well said, Eleanor. It was a wonderful time had by all, and thanks to all those that made this a success. Feel fortunate that I get to see a few of these good people on a regular basis. Looking forward to the next one!

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