Today I spent a half hour or so talking with my little brother on the phone. This was his first week of classes at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Additionally, I was talking to Cori last night and she asked me if I thought it was weird that my baby brother, almost seven years younger than I am, and I are both in college at the same time. Which, the more I think about it, makes me feel like a bit of a late bloomer. I am cool with this. I am so happy that my brother got such a nice break to attend such a great school, and--most importantly-- that for two of the three Koler children, the high school years are over. For the last one, they haven't even started.
Please don't take this to mean I am anti-teenagers or embittered to this day about my high school experience. In fact, last month I learned something new about myself. Apparently, I am going to be one of those parents who gets unnecessarily excited/emotional at high school graduations. I know this because a few months ago I was at my little brother's graduation from my own alma mater and while I was there I got that swelling feeling in my chest that generally only happens at religious events or when I'm reading an author I really like. Additionally, I actually stood respectfully and put my hand over my heart while the Shorecrest band played the national anthem, which I never do. Something about being there, watching my little brother participate in the same odd traditions, wearing the same green-colored robes and flat hat, gave me the willies, but in a good way. It also apparently resurrected some dormant patriotism inside me, though whether it was patriotism towards my school only or my country in general I don't know.
The Beach Boys sang, with little to no irony: "Be true to your school/ just like you would to your girl." I graduated from high school in 2003, ten months after September 11th. I attended, if memory serves, one football game. In fact, I went to said game in order to see a cute boy who played for our cross-town rival (ShoreWOOD, as opposed to Shorecrest) and during that game he broke his leg and had to be carried off the field on a golf cart. I decided I must be bad luck, and I haven't been to any sort of football game since. I went to a few baseball games, also to see a boy I had a crush on, but he never got injured so I suppose my curse only applies to football.
Now that I think about it, though, I don't think the baseball-playing boy I liked ever actually played.
My point is, I liked high school well enough, though I definitely wasn't one of those kids who LOVED high school. I didn't paint my face for football games or jump up and down at Caen Laida or deeply, sincerely believe that those were the best years of my life, even as I was living them. That being said, high school wasn't a living hell either. I had lots of good friends and quite a few good teachers. My school had lots of great writing opportunities and my car only got booted in the parking lot once.
I am also delighted to say that my physical attractiveness did not peak in high school. Thank God.
There were only two high schools in our school district, as I said before, and the dividing line between the two schools was ALMOST the same as the dividing line between the rich neighborhoods and the poor neighborhoods, with the exception of one small area. Shorecrest covered most of the poorer areas and Shorewood covered the more expensive properties close to the water. The one exception was the area by the mall which contained nice, big houses but fell into Shorecrest's boundaries. This was where most of the honor students lived. It was not where I lived, though most of the rich kids drove down the main drag on which I lived on their way home.
I remember feeling a sort of sick pride at being the more "ghetto" school, for you see back in my day we used the word "ghetto" as an adjective without irony. The outside perception of both my high school and my neighborhood seemed to be that we were low class. The main justification from the SW kids was that we were the school with a daycare for the teenage mothers. However, I believe we were magnet school for that program, so that reason kinda flies out the window when you think about it logically. Why people thought Shoreline was low class is beyond me. Personally, I think it's a charming little 'burb. Once Cori, (Cor, please correct me if I have this story wrong) told someone she met at some Seattle-wide event that she was from Shoreline, and the girl said in all seriousness, "Oh, I've heard of that neighborhood. The place with all the shootings."
There was like one shooting I remember in all the years I lived in that neighborhood. A few accidental deaths, but really, nothing serious. I never felt nervous or unsafe going anywhere regardless of the time of day. Perhaps I am an idiot, but the more likely scenario is that Shoreline was perfectly safe and some young people are ignorant and assume that if a neighborhood has houses that are smaller than yours, the inhabitants are therefore gang members. Silly, silly children.
I was going to write more about my high school experience but nothing is really standing out for me right now. Except that I wish someone had told me explicitly that being a young adult is ONE HUNDRED MILLION TIMES BETTER than being in high school, no matter what kind of happiness you achieve between the ages of 14-18. Also, that being rejected from various positions of prestige loses its sting over the years, and by the time you are almost 25, will cease to sting at all.
What would YOU like to know about my high school experience? Ask me and I will answer.