Monday, September 12, 2011

High School Time Capsule

In my junior year of high school I took a much beloved creative writing class, taught by one of my favorite teachers of all time, Lissa Richardson.

For our final project we had to compile a body of our work from the semester in a creative way that expressed who we were. I chose to put mine in a small suitcase, with the theme of traveling the world and writing about the things I experienced. I got an A+ on the assignment and I've kept that little suitcase full of hand-written stories, poems and exercises ever since. It has gone with me through marriage, divorce, and multiple moves. I suppose holding onto it was a way of holding onto my high school dreams and aspirations.

Little did I know at the time, within three years of graduating I would be married and my life would go in an entirely different, largely unanticipated direction.  I'll tell you, the early twenties are a most dangerous age. You think you know a heck of a lot more about yourself and life than you actually do, and sometimes it takes decades to overcome the consequences of the choices made in those early years.

In my case, during my senior year of high school I ended up having not one, but four gym classes, due to a stupid technicality. The school refused to recognize my standing doctor's note, issued Freshman year excusing me from regular gym class. They made me re-do three years of gym by spending three additional periods each day walking the track. While having half of my day filled up with gym meant I was in the best shape of my life, it also meant there was no room in my schedule for very much else. Gone was the Gifted and Talented Art Program I had been invited to participate in and the much anticipated AP English and Writing classes I had qualified for were also off the table.

Since it seemed nobody would let me have the dreams I wanted, in typical stubborn but oblivious teenager fashion, I simply decided to move on to a new dream: restaurant management. In some ways, looking back, that clearly wasn't the right choice. But in other ways, I wouldn't be who I am now, in some very important respects, had I not taken that path. Ultimately, I have no regrets.

Today as I open my personal time capsule and look through it, I feel a bit like I did back then, when I first left high school and the future was mine to create. I've done my duty; I raised my child and lived my values by building a lasting legacy of community service through the non-profit I co-founded. And now here I am, finally free to put my own dreams first for a change. The horizon is wide open, the possibilities limitless, with the added bonus of middle age: No teenage angst or insecurities to hold me back.

What were your high school dreams? Did you achieve them, or did life take you on a different journey? Let me know in the comments below.

My high school time capsule.
 A Poem From the Suitcase:

Ennee, meenee, minee, moe
To Cape Cod we soon will go.
With box and bag we will set forth,
and merrily we will travel north.

8 people in a 3 room house we will squeeze, 
any moment of privacy we will gladly seize.
To be by yourself there is very rare,
up there you are always one of a pair.

In a herd to the beach we will flock,
our car the parking lot will block.
Soggy, salty sandwiches we will eat
and feel the sand warm beneath our feet.

At night when the air is clear and cool
we'll listen to concerts, open to any fool.
Then home to bed we will gladly trot
and wonder if at home it is awfully hot.

1 comment:

  1. Oh to be as smart as I was at 18! Nice essay Kelly, took me back to my own high school craziness. I only needed one credit to graduate after my junior year. I proposed taking a morning advanced English class so I could work full time. I was 17 and living on my own. They wouldn't let me do it unless I took a 1/4 credit gym class that was at the end of the day. I dropped out. I went to summer school and took a basic english class and graduated. What nonsense!