Over the weekend, I went to Chicago to visit my high school building one last time. It'll be a K-12 magnet school come fall. Samantha and I went together. It was bittersweet.
We ran through the halls taking photos everywhere we could. Classrooms, locker rooms, library, cafeteria, and especially the theater where I spent a large chunk of my teenage years. We poked around backstage and found hundreds of scribbles from thespians past, including ours.
"Fiddler on the Roof" was my first musical. I remember being homebound with a cold the weekend before auditions my freshman year, begging my father to raid every Blockbuster on the south side for a VHS tape so I could walk through the story. I landed a spot in the chorus, and it changed my life. Through acting, I made friends, built confidence, scored a kiss or two (offstage, not on) and channeled my inner rock star.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, it's also how I met my brother-in-law. But Samantha knew. The green marker says "Samantha loves Dan 4ever."
This is Jason, who longtime readers may remember as my friend from Jerry Springer. Maria was an all-girls school, so technically he's not an alum, but he might as well be. He was in a gazillion of our plays. I met him during "Fiddler" and we were thick as thieves the next few years. These days he's busy CEOing and performing around the world, so our physical paths don't cross much, but when they do, we don't miss a beat. What a happy coincidence to be home at the same time.
Thinking about high school, wearing those years on me like a blanket all weekend, it's been hard not to feel a little sad. How can they be so far away? And why are they so easy to slip back on?
I have wonderful memories of being a teenager. I remember first kisses, senior prom, summer jobs, creative writing endeavors and all-nighters with friends as vividly as my wedding and my children's births. But I remember the hard times, too. Clinging to intimacy in relationships when all else failed; waiting for phone calls and first moves that never happened; feeling heartsick and trapped, overwhelmed by emotions for guys, peers, my parents and God. It's gutting to lose faith in someone, or fight for independence and lose, and feel so damn stuck.
Memories, like the corners of my mind...
The reunion also served as a catalyst for reflecting on 'lil Frema's goals and dreams and asking how the grown-up version measures up. At 18, the sky was the limit.
I'm not sure how I was going to afford my "fancy downtown apartment" or "cute little zippy thing" on a campus minister's salary. Prob'ly with the sales of my Great American Novel, which didn't earn a mention in my autobiographical pages but was echoed in almost every classmate's inscription.
So, how am I doing?
Amazing husband. Beautiful children. Education and career. Health and a roof over my head. Some people spend their whole lives praying for a fraction of what I have. I wasn't evolved enough to ask for those things at 18, but believe you me, 'lil Frema, you sure as hell wanted them.
I'm okay with the campus minister gig not coming full circle and living my faith in a different way. I'm even okay that I haven't written my book (YET). But I am greedy. This life is wonderful, but it's not enough. I can feel in my bones I should be doing something bigger. Making waves somehow. That I'm capable of more.
But unlike reflecting on high school, this realization doesn't make me sad. Instead, I'm excited. I have a lot of work to do. It's time to cut the bullshit and dig my heels in.
Thanks to Brandi Carlile for the blog post title.