Thursday, May 7, 2009

Things like that just don't happen in real life

When I was watching TV the other day I saw a commercial for a moving company. It showed the mom and dad thinking of how wonderful and easy the moving company was as they are in the car on the way to their new home in a different state. Then it showed the teenage son and a voice-over saying, "hmm, I wonder what cheerleaders in Florida wear." All I was thinking when I saw that commercial was how unrealistic that teenage thought was.

I was a junior in high school when my parents moved to Texas. At the time I think it was probably the worst thing that ever happened in my life. Looking back, even though I know it all worked out, it still boggles my mind that I had to leave the friends that I had my whole life right at the peak of my adolescence. And worse, I think, was that I moved from a small town where I knew everyone and they all knew me to a much bigger city and a school that wasn't used to getting new kids. The kids in my class had all grown up together and there wasn't much room for a new person in any of the groups. It was pretty awful.

I'm not saying that there weren't nice people, because there certainly were. But that was mostly at church where we had kids from 3 of the high schools in the area. There were no kids at church that were in my grade at my school. Talk about living for the weekend!

On the first day of school in Texas I sat all by myself at lunch. It was a huge blow. First because I would have never let that happen at my old school in Illinois if a new kid showed up and second because I had gone from having lots of friends and options for lunch to nothing at all. Things were even worse for me than I expected.

I went straight home that night and begged my mom to let me move back "home." I said that I would live with my friends (without ever asking them, of course, but I was desperate). I know that my mom felt bad for me and tried to understand what I was going through but she also knew that there was no way she was going to allow me to return "home" to Illinois. Frankly, we were all lonely and missing Mascoutah. We weren't prepared for just how much that place was a part of us.

The only things that got me through that first year away from Mascoutah were letters from my two closest friends, Theresa and Liz. Theresa sent letters all the time (remember letters?!? wow that makes me seem old). Sometimes I would get several a week from her. She would also send tapes of her talking or whatever music she was listening to at the time. I would send notes back, too, usually about how different kids in Texas were from what I was used to. In the land of football, all the guys are huge and the girls seemed so much more worldly than I was. It was all very strange. Liz would send big cards that made me laugh. I pretty much ran to the mailbox every day after volleyball or softball practice. I visited several times that year, even attending the homecoming dance my senior year with all my friends back home.

I quickly found people to sit with at lunch but I did not make lifelong friends with anyone from my Texas high school. I can barely remember many of the kid's names.

When I was a senior in Texas I met a guy through a friend at church that ended up being my first love. We dated until our senior year of college and I have very few memories of those years that don't include him. Even though we didn't go to the same high school, having him close made my senior year much more bearable.

But it definitely wasn't the same as having all of the senior rites of passage with friends that had been around my whole life. Theresa and Liz did their best to keep me informed of everything going on at home--even including me in the senior yearbook for Mascoutah--but I longed to be there with them enjoying prom and graduation with all of the people that I had grown up with. I knew them and they knew me all the way back to first grade. I remember when Laura had a brain tumor in the 6th grade and when Flora's foot got run over by a car in the 4th grade while we were riding bikes at the park. I know about all of their first kisses and they know about mine. It's wonderful to still have them all as part of my life. I just always wonder what it would have been like to finish high school with everyone that I was so close to.

Of course, everything worked out in the long run. I had a wonderful group of friends from church that went to the same college that I went to. I made lots of great friends at UT; people that I am still close with today. I travelled to a lot of great places as a flight attendant after college. And most importantly, I met my husband in a town that I was just temporarily living in as a flight attendant. I can't say that my life would have taken the same path had I stayed in Illinois. I'll never know for sure, but I doubt it.

I don't go to high school reunions with the people from my school in Texas. The great news is that I do go to the reunions with my friends from Illinois. I am still very close with several friends from Mascoutah and I am in touch with many, many of them thanks to social networking sites. Being able to talk to these people whenever I want feels like a warm hug.

One thing I do know for sure: I was definitely NOT thinking about what the damn cheerleaders in Texas wear as I was driving to my new house. That commercial is total BS.

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