Thursday, June 30, 2011

Memories, All Alone in the Moonlight

I first learned about high school from books. And a little bit from tv. I read about Mia feeling awkward and nerdy at Albert Einstein High during the Princess Diaries. I watched Rory Gilmore master Chilton on Gilmore Girls. I laughed at Lindsay Lohan get destroyed by the North Shore Plastics in Mean Girls. I thought I knew what it was all about.

I thought it would be about boyfriends and drama and backstabbing and cliques and popularity and extra credit assignments. It wasn't really about any of those things. At least not for me. High school isn't nearly that exciting. It's the same thing everyday. You drag yourself out of bed, force a meager breakfast in your mouth because you don't want to be starving in second period. You sit through two boring classes, talk to your friends during lunch, and then endure two more periods. Then you go home, do homework, eat dinner, do more homework, go to bed, and start it all over again. That's most days in high school. Most days are nothing special. They don't write books or make tv shows about those days. No, they like to tell stories about the few days that are special.

Well, I wasn't a typical high schooler. But I still have some stories. I thought I'd share them with all of you, before I forget them. I graduated yesterday. Everyday and every minute they are moving away from my present, and further into my past. 

I'll start with the bad days, the bad memories. They're always more fun. 

1) I was taking a theatre arts class in grade 11, where we would put on productions for the school. At the end of each production, we would all sit down and give each other reviews on how well we acted and how well we contributed backstage. It was supposedly anonymous, but we all knew each other's handwriting. 

Now, I don't lie. I mean, I tell white lies. But I won't say something nice about someone if I don't mean it. I won't be insincere. And that's really hard sometimes. Like when I had to give my friend a review for our final production. Her acting was fine, but her backstage work had really annoyed me. She had been bossy and controlling, and, in my opinion, a detriment to the production. So, I told her that. In nicer words I hope. 

I thought she would know it was me. We'd been in classes together for three years. But no, she assumed another boy in the class had written it. A boy I hated. It was very tempting to let him take the blame. This boy had certainly done that to me, time and time again. But no, I had to be honest. It wasn't right. So I told her. And boy, was she mad. 

Now, I understand that anyone would take offence at what I wrote, regardless of whether it's true or not. It's hard to hear bad things about yourself. But this wasn't just hurt or mad. This was Angry, with a capital A. So much that she ran down the hall yelling at me. Her speech ended by saying "F*** you" right to my face. 

For a second, I didn't even react. I remember thinking "this is going to hurt later". And it did. It hurt a lot. I don't swear. People know that. They know I don't like it. So, while this would have been no big deal for a lot of people, this comment was a huge deal to me. 

We made up. We're friends now. But I never forgot it. I never really trusted her or truly felt comfortable with her after that. And, I also lost faith in my other friends. I thought they would stand by me. Instead, they sympathized with the other girl. That fact hurt me much deeper, in a way that lasted much longer. 

2) This next story is from the same theatre arts class. And, believe it or not, I actually look back on this class pleasantly. Though it gave a world of trouble. 

It was our first major production, and I signed up to be the stage manager. I thought it would be fun. I would get to organize stuff and be a large part of the production. Cool. But then I found out the director was a boy I kind of didn't like. Not so cool. But I tried to roll with it. Tried to adapt. I tried as hard as I could to be polite and professional and productive. And yet. 

This boy turned on me. He gave me a speech telling me how awful and controlling I was. Then, everyone had a complaint about me. But that alone wouldn't have been so bad. The bad part came when we did the post-production feedback. Everyone had something to say then. Every problem in the production was blamed on me. Every fault in my personality was dissected by each person. It was a roast, plain and simple, a two-hour torching of me. People I had liked, people I respected, people I considered friends, they all said awful things about me. 

Going home that night was awful. I had a history essay to do, but I just couldn't. I was destroyed. Decimated. My emotional state was on par with a country flattened by an earthquake. I had no idea how to go on. I had no idea how I was going to face everyone the next day. Because these people weren't just in my theatre arts class. They were in all my classes. I couldn't escape them. I was terrified of them. 

But I braved it. Looking back, I don't know how I did it. But I moved on. I never forgave any of them, and I never forgot it, but I moved on. I went to Cuba with these same kids last week, no issue. But sometimes, when I'm feeling down, I can still hear their nasty comments reverberating through my mind. 

3) I had just started real, official, grade 11 IB. I had new english teacher, who I didn't really know that well (who, coincidentally, was also my theatre teacher that semester. And no, event though he had a hand in all three of these stories, I don't hate him! I hugged him last night!). We had to do a creative assignment on Hamlet. I made a magazine. I thought it was great. 

Now, you have to understand, that when I am confident in my work, I'm usually right. I have a 95% average, for heaven's sake. And I have always excelled in creative projects in particular. And english has always been my best class. So I thought I would get at least a 90%, if not higher. I got a 81%. Now, I know, that doesn't sound like much difference, especially to anyone who's been out of school for a while. But to me, it was huge. I had gotten a 96% in my last english course. I wanted to beat that this year. I couldn't do that with an 81%, not on an assignment I liked so much. So, for the first time ever, I challenged the grade.

The result was awful. Another teacher marked it and gave me a 68%, telling me my work was awful. Suggesting that I was having a hard time transitioning to grade 11. She didn't know who I was, what I was capable of. She thought a 68% was pretty good. And, as result, she saw me cry. A lot. 

That day was humiliating. But I learned from it. Looking back, my assignment wasn't that good. And I could have recovered from the 81%. I did! I ended the semester with a 90% in that class. And I got a 97% in english this year, so it's all good. But, back then, I thought it was the beginning of the end. I didn't know things would get better. 

Now, I have some good memories for you. High school wasn't all bad! (in fact, all of those bad memories occurred within six months! I had 3 and a half years without anything that bad!)

1) The day my best friend first called me her best friend. We had been close for three years. In my head, I considered her my best friend. But I didn't dare say it allowed. 

Then, in may, we were studying for exams together--well, studying some, talking a lot. And the topic of friends came up. And she called me her best friend. I had waited for that, wanted that for so long. It felt so good. Official. The world as I saw it in my head was finally becoming the world everyone else saw too. 

That's it. Short and sweet. But I'll never forget it. 

I have other good memories. Those aren't all my stories. But they're most of my defining ones. I'm sorry they're so long. I know, most people have probably quit reading by this point. Not a lot of people started reading in the first place. Thanks if you're still with me. Thanks for letting me share these pieces of me with you. 


  1. Great post. It got me thinking back to my days in high school. I never really read YA books or watched teen movies while I was in high school. Strange, right? But I was too busy with figure skating and studying and reading for school (I was a wee bit of bookworm). I did not watch or read 'teen' stuff until university. And then I was like, what?!?! These are not accurate representations of what my high school experiences were like!! It was, like you wrote, a lot of the same, day in and out. The more dramatic events were very few and far between!

  2. Wow, that is strange. Now that you're into teen stuff, what do you think are the most realistic books/movies/tv shows?

    You were into figure skating? My best friend growing up is a serious pairs skater.

    And no, high school is not exciting or dramatic. It is lame.

  3. It's been a long time since I have been a teenager. I do want to mention one thing. You're a very talented writer. I have read a few of your posts and your writing is vibrant and alive


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