Thursday, September 4, 2008

Powder Blue

I was hoping my sister would do something colorful for her marriage ceremony to D-Hawkins, the former femur. I call him the former femur because it is impossible to get him to ride a bike anymore because he is consistently on the road. Either to Columbia to see Kathryn, or somewhere in B-bomb Egypt where they make a bunch of equipment that nobody knows what the hell the stuff is used for.

I loved my senior picture, (taken in a powder blue tux just like the above) it is one of the few pictures of myself that I actually like. Not because of my full head of hair, my recently straightened teeth, my clear skin an flawless features. I like the picture because it captures a certain moment of relief. I look back on high school and struggle to find much that was really all that meaningful. Is it so wrong of me to look back and say, "hey, that really sucked"? I don't think so. Because I find that there is a framework that was being built during that time and, even though it was a little off kilter, I look back on high school as a stage of perseverance. I had to persevere each day to get through the boring material, the clicky people, the racial tension, the day to day humdrum bullshit of status quo. It was too slow for me to use my abilities. I was, for a long time, embarrassed that each day during my junior and senior year, I left school to go to work in a restaurant at 11:00 AM. I was one of those kids, early out to work.

This worked for me, gave me a reason not to skip class. Before I had skipped because the others skipped. The others could skip and get away with it, get good grades, skirt the system. It was total peer pressure. I won't say publicly the things we would do while sitting in our cars in Proctor park, Bethal Park, Rockbridge Park, or any other park within a 10 minute drive from the high schools. It was really quite sad the reaction we would get from our teachers when returning to class, no reaction.

I look at today's schoolkids and wonder if some are disappointed with the system. I can compare quite nicely the goods and the bads. I think the food is miserable now. It used to be pretty good where I came from. I think the sports facilities are so much better now, the teaching methods, the mentorship, the parent involvement, the resources, the logistics. Not so good back in the 70's. I wonder what kind of sincere strategic support for underachievers the schools have now, in relationship to their evaluation scores. My school wasn't so good at that.

I sat at My kids school the other day on some business in the counselors office, watching the students coming in though the front door. I saw the city kids get off the bus and the local parents dropping off their kids in an assortment of SUV's. There were groups and clicks; athletes, freaks, drama queens, bad boys, cheerleaders, nerds, geeks. I was able to label and categorize the social status of just about every kid walking in the place. I then turned to the teachers and the administrators and thought to myself how they were once members of these groups; former students of the same classes.

I guess I carry a bit of resentment when it comes to the American high school experience cultivated from a combination of academic and social stigma. There are always those kids who don't think they fit the system very well. They are the "them", they others the "us", especially when it comes to grasping academic material and/or embracing social groupings. I responded to the academic conditions poorly and inward I went, heading out to the parking lot, skipping class and eventually signing up for early release. I was at a shortfall, couldn't grasp the things that the other kids could. It was degrading and I fell victim to that which would define my academic experience and off to work I went. For some it is not the academics at all, rather the social groupings that cause alienation; pull back and lack of achievement.

Take a look at your high school picture and see how you measure up from time to time. Put on a little "Re-united" by Peaches and Cream, remember how things were then and look at things now. Hopefully you will see just how significant and/or insignificant the experience was, ifyouknowhatimtalkingbout.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WHAT? No coolness factor. I thought high top chuck taylor RED converse under the wedding dress would do the trick. Where else can Frank Sinatra meet the Sex Pistols? (or for that matter Henry Rollins?)