Yesterday was exactly fifteen years since my high school graduation. Fifteen years is a long time. In recent years, I haven't thought much about graduation. At the time, I didn't appreciate the experience as much as I should have. I was ready for the ceremony to be over and go party with my friends. I didn't go to my five year reunion because it was right before my wedding. My ten year reunion was a two day event, and I was able to go the first night. It was nice to see girls from high school and catch up with them. Now that Facebook exists, we can keep up with each other online. Hopefully we'll have another reunion to see each other again, not just through profile pictures!
I went to an all girl Catholic high school, Mount de Sales Academy. It might sound unappealing to some, but I absolutely loved it! We wore uniforms and went to Mass and Confession every month. Religion was not an elective, we had it every single day, all four years. We had strict rules like not crossing from one side of the school to the other on the first floor and always wearing every part of the uniform, including the nametag. We got detention and demerits for things like excessive talking, missing pieces of the uniform, and cutting through the senior hallway or choir loft. We didn't ride buses to school. Our parents dropped us off, or we drove ourselves, if we were lucky enough to pass driver's ed and have a car. We didn't have a gym at the school. Our dances and graduation took place in the Music Hall. Gym classes took place in an old smelly room called the Refectory. At those school dances, the nuns were chaperones, and we were encouraged to "leave room for the Holy Spirit" while dancing with our dates. The school was small. We had 79 people in our graduating class. We all knew each other by name, even if we weren't close friends. All of this might sound strange if you didn't go to my school. Reading these sentences, the rules do sound kind of wacky. But they were perfect for the school. They made sense. I know that the school has changed since I went there. It has grown. I recently read that this year will be the 160th graduation with122 girls.
I might not have always appreciated what I had at MdeS, especially when I was serving Saturday detention for coming to school late because we decided to go out to breakfast instead of going right to school. But I really did have best time there, and I made the greatest friends of my life. I am lucky to say that I still have the best friends from high school, true friends, some of which I met as a freshman in the fall of 1993. By senior year, I had some of the friends I would have for life. I didn't realize it at the time, that what we had was so special that we would be friends for life. Maybe it's because we've literally been to hell and back together and we realized how short life is and not to take our friendships for granted. Out of a tragedy in 2005, the worst experience and darkest time of my life, a bond with my friends was formed that cannot be broken, no matter where our paths in life take us.
Here I am fifteen years later, getting all nostalgic and remembering the "glory days" of high school. I can now appreciate the stories my dad would tell about his younger days and why he'd be so excited talking about old times, although I was totally bored listening to him at the time. I'm sure my kids will be just as bored when I tell them stories about my past as well. Circle of Life? Back then, thirty sounded SO old. I was seventeen. The only age I cared about was twenty-one. When I graduating, I didn't really imagine my future. I knew I was going to good old community college, and hoped I'd get myself motivated to go to "real" college and get a degree. I hoped to have a family some day. But that was really all I thought about then. I was more consumed with the present, with trying to play hooky from my waitressing job at a retirement home and partying with my friends. I couldn't wait for Senior Week in Ocean City and being on my own with my friends. Here's how much times have changed... we walked to the payphone every day to call our parents or boyfriends to check in while we were at the beach. No cell phones, no texting, no chatting or messaging on Facebook. No laptops or iPads with Skype. We used change. To make phone calls. Long distance. It's funny that this is a totally foreign concept to my kids!
So, community college came and took a little longer than it should have. I didn't appreciate the college opportunity at the time and didn't try my hardest. But I eventually got my shit together, graduated CCC and went on to UMBC and got a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. And that waitressing job I didn't really like at the time? Well, I'm glad I stuck with it. After three years of working there, this new cook started in the kitchen. I tried to play it cool when my supervisor introduced us, but I thought he was cute. We worked together for a while before we actually talked to each other. That guy is now my husband of almost ten years. Good call on not quitting that job! We have five beautifully exhausting kids together. Never in my wildest dreams in May of 1997 would I have imagined I'd be a mother of five. Come to think of it, I never imagined having five kids when it was May of 2011 either.
Fifteen years later, life is totally different. It is supposed to be. We can't live in high school forever. I do wish I could get my high school body back though! In these fifteen years, I've accomplished a lot. I've lived a lot. I've learned a lot. I've loved more than I ever thought possible. I've experienced the excruciating pain of the death of a friend. I've experienced the miracle and joy of bringing a child into the world, five times over. In high school, I never had a boyfriend. I joked to my friends that I would become a nun. Ironically, I was the first one to get married. I was lucky enough to find an amazing man and marry him. I appreciate and respect my parents so much more than I did when I was younger. I understand why they made decisions they made. I have a much better sense of family now. I know who my true friends are, and that they love me and I love them even if we don't see each other often.