Once upon a time, many, many years ago, I woke up to with butterflies in my stomach. I probably slept very little the night before, as happened most important nights before a big day. Excitement for the first day; going to get books. The summer had flown by and this day arrived sooner than expected. Nervous, scared, hesitant, shy. I wasn't alone, though; friends nearby. Those known from many years before. Some recall the pig-tails and MaryJane shoes.
A new chapter in life was about to be written. Had no clue what would happen; no clue what the conclusion might be. The introduction was just beginning. A list of scheduled classes on the registration form was clutched by my clammy hand. Glancing at others with piles of books that, for some, would tower over their heads as they carried them.
Each of us assigned a locker. Each of us with different courses. Some of us with different lunch hours. Suddenly, we're small fish in a big pond; so many new faces. Though a core group of friends existed, as the year moved on, some friends became distant, some no longer friends but simply acquaintances, some of them disappeared never to return. Each hour a different class with different people. People who are products of parents and families from all walks of life. Coming from a youth portrayed similarly to those in one of many John Hugh's movies. Different 'groups' of people; jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, stoners, etc., were already known labels. How easily some people fell into those groups. And how interesting it is for those who don't. Those who can't.
A little fish in a big pond, on the outside looking in. Society's categorizations flying above head not always falling on the shoulders of some. Fitting in isn't always possible. Fitting in isn't always desirable. Coming into who one is can be unique, yet, confusing. The first year flew by.
Another year of classes to take. Photography, French, I.B. Algebra; never thought to be possible. A whole new world of knowledge opening up my young mind. Weekends at the library in search of books to read; in search of new lives and worlds made possible through the written word. Journals, periodicals, micro-fiche film, encyclopedia's, autobiographies...a new lexicon introduced to this soul. A world of possibilities.
Yet, amongst all the positive, conflict brews. Tortured minds, hearts and emotions; social, economic and racial differences evident. History stories of the segregated years resonate with personal experiences. Some just don't fit in. Mid-year I'm involved in a physical altercation amongst two groups of girls. All from the same side of the track; why were we fighting each other? Jealousy brews even amongst those thought to belong together. Friendships of the past begin to weaken. 'They' say the older you get the wiser you are; thought to be true in the mind of this sixteen-year old.
Summers spent differently than most when younger. Mom, just fifteen years older, struggled to hold jobs but always survived; always provided. She was the mom and sometimes the dad. She was the hand that ruled. For a few years she would clean others homes to make ends meet; struggling more than needed due to choices made. Yet, she always provided and always survived. Amazing woman, defeated by a lack of education. It didn't have to be this way but it was. "You're so smart; you read and write so well; don't take your brain for granted"...her words always.
Another year, closer to the end. Friends of the past, gone mostly; I'm usually alone. I mind it but I don't. Acquaintances met in classes; some friendships established. In this head, graduation couldn't be close enough. Already planning for the future; looking beyond the gates of this educational institution. A few memorable things; first car, first job. Sweet sixteen come and gone. Already planning for the future; always a mature soul.
A summer of studying; one more year to go. Surviving the heat and not knowing what's to come. Looking back, college wasn't planned. I wasn't told the importance of a G.P.A. and what in the world is an S.A.T.? Why was there a lack of information? Why didn't the counselor advise? Fate would intervene - the divine plan laid out for me.
Final year only half a day of classes required. The afternoons free left room for me to be a member of the COE program. Classes in the morning; office employment in the afternoon. I'll never forget you, Mr. Sheets...your guidance and the interview you sent me on changed the path of my life forever. A private, for-profit university looking for a part-time employee. Ms. C.J. Black interviewed; hired me on the spot. Graduation still couldn't come soon enough.
Homecoming, prom - foreign to me. How easy some people fell into the groups. How interesting it is for those who don't; those who can't. Four years of a blur; much learned and much growth. Graduation didn't come fast enough.
Nearly 20 years since. Can't believe how fast time has gone. I know many who loved their high school years; I don't recall liking mine at all. No offense to those who did, but for me, fitting in wasn't possible. Too busy planning for the future; always this mature soul.