Monday, January 07, 2008


It's all Kathleen's fault, my walking buddy and true blue friend. She insisted her cousin and I had to have gone to high school together. After our walk I went down to my newly organized basement and dug out my old yearbooks, to prove her wrong. Of course, there she was, her cousin, plain as day on page 52. I have a good reason for not remembering her though, I was a SENIOR, and she was a FRESHMAN. Enough said.

Someday when you really want to stumble, trip and crash down memory lane, open up your old yearbooks and read what everyone said to you back then.

And then there are the pictures. Wow. An avalanche of emotion came at me when I took a look at those babies. To see those young faces and know what happened to them later, hard to get my head wrapped around it all. The couple that couldn't keep their hands off each other and we knew they'd never last? They've been married for 26 years. Happily, from what I hear. Scott? The boy next door? The one every mother would have been proud to have date her daughter? Died in a freak accident the spring of his freshman year in college. I was there. Went to the hospital and heard the doctors tell us he was brain dead.

Eighteen years old. Our first class reunion was his funeral, less than a year from our graduation.

Then there's Don. Jerk in high school. Jerk at the 10 year reunion. At the 20 year reunion he apologized. He grew up. Marriage, divorce, children, funny how that matures a person.

That really pretty girl with all the friends? Good at all the sports? Smart too? I married her eventual boyfriend.

There's a picture of me standing on an outdoor bench, acting crazy with a caption that reads, "Carrie Wilson just being herself."

That's not how I remember myself in high school. Animated? Funny? Silly? That's not how I remember things at all. But by the sounds of the signature pages and the pictures, that's how I was. On the outside. That's what they said about me anyway.

Four of the most brutally painful years of my life, physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, every way. Yet I fooled them all. Nobody saw that. Man, I was good.

My daughter goes to high school in eight short months. I cannot believe that. She has a lot more going for her already, than I did. She is past the awkward phase that took up a good three of my four high school years. She will know 1/2 the school when she walks in the door, her grade school is a big feeder there. She will not have just moved to a new city. Her home life is stable, albeit crazy, but crazy in a stable way. There will be no new step-parents or step-siblings to contend with. She will not wear a back brace, braces on her teeth, nor a cast on her leg, at least not all at the same time, like I did.

Still. It's high school. There will be drama. There will be tears. There will be joys. There will be people that mean everything to her then, and nothing to her later. There will be teachers that make her life miserable and those that set her on a path for which she will still be grateful 26 years later.

And someday, years and years from now, she will have a daughter embarking on her high school career. She will pull out her old, moldy, scary yearbooks and go down memory lane too. May her lane be a happy one.


Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

High school yearbooks ARE scary!!!

Girls who dot their 'I's with hearts.

The oh so sincere 18 year-old wishes:
"Stay just the way you are!"
"Have fun in college."
"Remember A
Remember B
But most of all remember me"

Endless pictures of the "popular" crowd, not so many of the other 375 students in the senior class.

Observing high school from the vantage point of a parent, it does not seen that much has changed in the last 30 years. But, like you, I think my children are better able to handle it than I.

Courtney said...

Spectacular post! Hope all is well, C

Kathryn said...

Carrie, I recently had a phone conversation with my best buddy from high school; he and I won dance contests and skipped school together. We had not spoken in 31 years. 31. High school days for us were hard. He was gay and I was hippie-ish. He read me what I wrote to him in his year book. I can't remember who that person was. We should have received medals instead of diplomas for making it through high school!

Nancy said...

Love the full circle-ness of this moment. Just walked down the yearbook lane recently myself.funny what that opens up.

Anonymous said...

I chose to not have anyone sign my yearbook. I knew I wouldn't want to read it in the future.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Yes. May her path be blessed.

Love to your mini-me.

riversgrace said...

Ok, back brace, broken leg and braces? Oh, honey! Sorry, but I have to know more. Spill!

Still super funny but from the inside out now, yes?

Your daughter has awareness around her...seems to makes a huge difference in HOW we get through what has to be gotten through.