Alternately titled : Holy cow, how did this get to be such a long, introspective post?!
I attended a private Christian school for elementary and junior high. These were not particularly pleasant years for me. I suppose there were good times, but looking back, I never quite felt like I fit in. I was awkward, nerdy and not particularly fashionable. Uniforms were not required at the school I attended, and the unfashionable aspect really bit me in the butt. As if being awkward and nerdy weren't bad enough. All this laid the groundwork for some unruly years in high school.
Upon entering public school, I thought that I could leave my past behind me. No one had any idea that I was a nerd, and I had mostly outgrown my awkward stage. I was still somewhat lacking in the fashion department, but then again, there were so many more fashion genres in public school, that I didn't stand out quite so much. I discovered that boys found me attractive. That had never happened in private school. There, I had been the girl that boys asked out as a joke. To make a fool of me. Though I was able to "reinvent" myself at a new school, I was not able to leave the feelings of a nerdy, awkward girl behind.
It didn't occur to me until years later, that I had left private school to attend a public, inner-city school district, but that's exactly what I did. The problems we faced there were very adult kinds of problems. Drugs? Check. Gangs? Check. Teenage pregnancy? Check. We had it all. The metal detectors that we had to go through every morning were a joke. No one was available to man them after the first period bell rang, and if you were going to bring a weapon to school, you probably didn't really care all that much if you were missing a class or two. By the time we had graduated, I had friends that were parents and married. I had friends that had lost their lives to car wrecks, suicide, and drive-by shootings. What I didn't realise at the time, was that not all public schools were like that. It was during those rough high school years that I developed some incredibly deep friendships. We went through a lot together, during a time when you're ever trying to break away from your parents and become an autonomous individual. You instead lean on friends, and begin to define yourself through those friendships.
When I became a parent myself, I was able to keep some of those friendships for a time. But then it happened... They went to college. I did not. While most of my friends moved away and went to lots of parties, I went to work and took care of my kids. And you know what? I don't really feel like I missed much. Sure, I would like to get a degree one day, but I can't say that I'm particularly sorry to have missed out on wild parties and boozing it up. And to be honest, I see an awful lot of my peers that got degrees and really aren't using them. You know what I do miss, though? I miss those friends. I miss having someone close that I can call on a moment's notice and say "Hey, I need to get away. Want to go out and do something?" Because let's be honest, just because I'm married to my best friend and I love my kids doesn't mean that I don't need to get away from them occasionally. I realise, of course, that with a family, people need more than a moment's notice, but it seems like even planned get-togethers fall through. And I haven't been out with one of my friends from high school in ten years. Ten years.
I have cultivated new friendships since my old friends left me, but very few, and I seem to have a difficult time. It seems, sometimes, like everyone has their own circle of friends that they've always had, and I'm the new girl, who never quite fits in. Still nerdy. Still Awkward. Still completely unfashionable. Sometimes, I miss having such a large circle of friends. This particular introspection was brought on by the loss of a high school friend on facebook, and the change in status of another from married to single. I didn't even know she was having problems, and wonder if she felt like I did when I was going through my divorce. I wonder if she felt like she would never be lovable again and like she had completely failed at life. And I didn't even know until she had changed her status on facebook.
I suppose this is just a part of being an adult. Everyone sort of does their own thing, and lives their own lives. When my phone rings, I can pretty safely assume that it's for one of my tweener daughters and not me. I am now defined by my family. Jonathan's wife. Celestia's and Tatiana's mom. Those are good things to be. Sometimes, though, I would like to find that girl that had so many friends. I would like the phone to be for me. I have always believed that people had an infinite capacity to love, but the older we get, the smaller our circle seems to become. Men and women can no longer be just friends, because it's somehow socially unacceptable. Funny, I'm certain I had plenty of male friends when I was younger that I never once dated. Women can't seem to get away from the kids to have a night out on their own. Occasionally, you find the rare couple that you can hang out with as a couple. That seems to be the best solution. Everyone's kids entertain each other, while the adults get together for a while. If you're lucky, the children all come out unscathed.
For the most part, I am starting this process over yet again... Meet new people. Maybe you click, maybe you don't. Deep down, I still feel a bit like that awkward little girl. I haven't had a new wardrobe in ages, and the return of 80's fashion doesn't make me want to run out and buy one. The biggest difference is that I can now happily admit that I am a nerd, and laugh about it. Take it, or leave it, my friends. Perhaps there is my answer. I've stopped trying to be something that I'm not. The most ironic part in all of this is that I'm pretty sure that I am a much nicer person than I was back then. But I could be wrong. It certainly wouldn't be the first time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll step down off my soapbox. I've taken up enough of your time. (If anyone is actually still with me, here.) Maybe I'll brew a pot of coffee and invite someone over for a chat.