OK. if i’m going to reminisce, might as well go all the way. it IS my blog, afterall…i can ramble all i want! 🙂
well, to fully understand who i was in high school we must backtrack a tiny bit to junior high. (groan must we? yeah, i think we must)
i spent 7th, 8th and 9th grade in okinawa, japan. my dad was in the navy. i have very fond memories of my time there…we thoroughly enjoyed the culture and the people. during our time there i was turning into a teenager. slowly, very very slowly. my family was still central to my life and i had no social life outside of my family to speak of.
now during this time, my family life was extremely positive, i should note. we’ve always been a very close and loving family. (my parents, my younger brother and i). my entire social life my 3 years in okinawa was with my family and the people that my family brought into that circle. my dad was the senior chaplain at one of the military bases and regularly scheduled fun field trips, charity projects, movie nights, cultural events, social events, holiday gatherings, picnics, you name it! Just about every weekend had us doing something…we saw just about every nook and cranny on that island and i swear we met just about every okinawan! the things we did were always fun and fulfilling. and though this didn’t involve peers, this did involve many many “big brother” marines…5-10years older than me, that adopted me as their little sister and treated me very kindly and made me feel special despite my awkwardness.
but adolescence is about peers…and during 7th & 8th grade (according to my recollection) i was teased at school because of my lack of social prowess (big ole geeky glasses and serious lack of fashion sense, not to mention just overall not “cool” in my mannerisms…i was still very much a little girl…and a dorky one at that.) i was sufficiently beaten down emotionally in junior high to know my place in the hierarchy–down at the bottom of the social ladder…
freshman year wasn’t particularly noteworthy. i didn’t really get teased, that i recall, but i also just didn’t really fit in anywhere. lost in the crowd of a very large high school (which also encompassed 7th/8th grade) .
fast forward to our next duty station…earle, NJ. summer before my sophomore year of high school. HUGE changes in my life, including: move back stateside (culture shock), move to a civilian area and a civilian school (another sort of culture shock, as my brother and i hadn’t mingled with civilian kids for 8 years) , ditched the glasses and got contacts, learned how to wear makeup (and wore it every day for the rest of high school, i believe), and got a better hair style and clothing sense (better, not great). suddenly i was getting a chance to finally be a real teenager.
the sunday before my first day of school (which was several weeks into the school year, since it took us months to find a place to live and hence where to send us to school…nothing new for us, but hard nonetheless) i met some of the kids that went to my new school…ken k, chris h, tom m, and i think ryan t might have been there too that first nite, though i don’t recall him being at the meetings ever again. it was the local united methodist church youth group…something that really changed my life…because there is where i got my first real teenage social life. (remember my dad was a chaplain/pastor, so church was a central part of my family life…so of course one of the first things my parents did in our new town was join a new church.)
i developed an instant, hardcore, crush on chris h. i swear from the moment i laid eyes on him. very weird to remember that. and somehow i got accepted into that group and became one of the gang…”the guys”, as i came to call chris, ken, tom and ryan, became my life. my family was always important still…but this was where my adolescence truly began.
i was SOOOOO happy! in less than a year’s time i went from social outcast to socialite! i doubt anyone from junior high would have recognized me. i finally was accepted. and it meant the world to me.