We do not choose them as they choose us

August 30th, 2004

I would sit there, as a teenager, pen in hand and draw pictures of my high school friends, depicting them as I imagined they would be as adults. Acting as Cinderella at Walt Disney World. Professional runner. Incrediably rich doctor’s wife.

However, six years after we graduated from high school and went our respective ways, I found myself crowded around a table at a newly opened chain bakery slash restaurant with a few of these same people, some of whom I’ve kept in better contact with than others.

My predictions did not come true. In fact, if anything else, my predictions were as off as they could possibly be. Now we have a second grade teacher with breast implants, a pharmaceutical sales rep, an assistant PE teacher, a missionary, a substitute teacher, a sales/marketing rep for a wine company, a grad student/soon to be high school spanish teacher, a Peace Corps volunteer.

It seems as if teaching is the way to go. And yes, I’m friends with a missionary. Shocking.

The funny thing is that in the past, I would have proudly added myself to this group of people: Journalist. Not just any journalist, but a journalist who has interviewed celebrities and a former president, a journalist who could turn out a story on a dime, who reviewed concerts and got comped while visiting NYC and DC.

But no longer. I remember one of the drawings I did, which hung in my friend Erin’s room for a long time after that, held to the wall by a pushpin, of everyone lined up side by side. It seems as if even then I felt unsure of the things that would happen for me. My prediction for my future?

I’d be Cousin It from the Addams family.

Cousin It I’m not, although my pregnancy has left me with a little more body hair than I’m proud of admitting. Now I’m a wife. A mother. A blogger.

Most of them have no idea what bloggers are. They get out in the real world, do things that don’t involve the internet.

I could still hold my own with these people, these people who used to be my closest friends and still make up what I consider my “close friend” group, even though I’m sure I probably don’t fit into theirs anymore. These things happen.

We crowded around the table, everyone else with sandwiches, me slowly munching on a salad long after they had discarded of their plates. I had too much to talk about. Too much to say to bother eating. There were boyfriends to discuss, people to gossip about, lives to explain. They laughed about how slow I ate, though they could have remembered I had the same probelm way back when.

Fourty seconds to chew rice, they timed.

We discussed the baby, how cute she is, how good she is and how much she likes to smile. “She doesn’t get that from me,” I joke, even though I am serious.

I am smiling this day, talking a mile a minute without stopping, not letting the jealousy that has recently popped into my life come to surface. Jealousy isn’t like me.

On the way there, during the 45 mintue drive in our Toyota Camry from my suburb to “home,” we listened to an old song by Baz Luhrmann. The Graduation/Sunscreen song.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

I used to hate this song, rolled my eyes when I heard it play on the radio. How cheesy. How tacky. How utterly annoying in a way that only a new Madonna song can render itself. However, this time, as my husband pointed over at me during the parts that pertained to my life, Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults, I found myself understanding what he meant.

At the time, when I was 17 or 18, I rolled my eyes. Turned off the radio. Yelled when someone dared to play it. But now, after years of being hidden in the depths of my cluttered mind, the words to this song have found their way into my conciousness.

Several of them nearly had heart attacks when I explained She Nuts, though others merely laughed with glee at the fact that I discussed my genitalia during a nice Saturday lunch while a massive thunderstorm took place outside our window.

“We were actually friends with this girl in high school?” one asked.

Well, you are the one who wore the Little Bo Peep costume to school one day, I reply. You have no room to judge.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

I may not have a fancy job anymore, or the money to buy the clothes that I want from Anthropologie, but I do have the knowledge of the She Nuts. And I plan to share that knowledge until the world knows.

4 Comments

  1. ginger wrote,

    Great post. I feel that way about old friends. Most of them have become teachers as well, haha. (I’m also one!!)

    It makes me sad that I never get to spend time with the people I couldn’t live without for one WHOLE day when I was in school.

    Comment on 8/30/2004 @ 9:54 am

  2. Robotnik wrote,

    The “Real” world is blogging. All the major new networks now have their own. Don’t beat yourself up for that.

    I’m lucky; I’ve always kept in touch w/friends from 9th grade. Now they are (we are) all married with children–still kind of the same. Nothing is lost when we get together–same idiotic 9th graders come out of us as a group. Thank God for the wives who roll their eyes and let us be those outcast kids from the John Hughes days in high school. Yes, we were a group of “Duckies.” (trench coats, Chuck Taylors, listening to Cure/Smiths/U2/Siouxie and the Banshees/Replacements/Costello/Clash/etc.)
    And among us: A government functionary, a GIS technician, unemployed writer (me), a construction superintendent, a Sprint PCS cog in the giant mobile-phone machine, etc.

    You get it…the work does not make a man/woman who she/he is. Work is work is work is work. Only here, in the US it’s important.

    Watching the Olympics, sometimes I wish I were one of those old guys living in poverty on a little island, playing backgammon and drinking coffee. I’d have no worries.

    Comment on 8/30/2004 @ 10:56 am

  3. Texas T-bone wrote,

    Thankfully I’m not the same dork I was in high school. I’m now an older dork. The best compliment I got at my 10-year reunion was that people said they wouldn’t recognize me on the street. That’s good news, trust me!

    Comment on 8/31/2004 @ 2:48 pm

  4. Priscilla wrote,

    If there were ever a post that I could relate to, this is it! When I get together with my friends from high school, I feel out of place, like I should be put into a different categorie or clique. I don’t have anything in common with them anymore. As they are all advancing in their careers, I quit working to raise my kids. They don’t have kids and can’t relate to any of my stories because the only thing I have to talk about is my kids. It’s a sad realization when you find that those you had so much in common with years ago, now look at you like you’re crazy when you talk!!

    Comment on 9/20/2004 @ 11:14 am

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