The old me

D’s son was not accepted into the “gifted and talented” program at school. D told him that he’d probably be in, and he also told him that when he was a kid, he was in the gifted and talented program. So, D’s son was obviously upset. My response was that the gifted and talented program was pure silliness and if you really wanted, you could try to get in again next year.

Then we started talking about when we were kids in high school and what tracks we were on. His freshman year D was taking geometry with Juniors and Seniors. When I was a freshman, I was taking Basic Math with a bunch of failing, pot smoking other freshman and some Sophomores too. Obviously on different tracks. But the truth is, he was just as uncomfortable and awkward as a kid as I was, despite being in all honors classes and having his parents expect nothing lower than a B.

All this talk made me dream of my old self and so I dreamed of a grungy girl sitting at a bar, writing and smoking cigarettes, chatting with a questionable group of men and woman. I was wearing Doc Martin’s, cheap clothes and taking advice from some fat older lady named Crystal who seemed to entertain men for money. I was there doing research. I was going to write about it.

When I woke up, it felt good to have a glance of that comfortable grungy place again. It was so much a part of my life and it was like meeting up with an old friend. And yet, I have almost nothing in common with that girl anymore– except for the writing and the spirit.

D and I would have never been interested in each other in high school. Even though we may have passed each other in the halls, I was from one world and he was from another. He was popular, conservative, blond, and in honors classes. I had jet black hair that I spiked up; I wore thick black eye-liner and smoked outside between classes with the metal heads, punks, artists, hoods, and other beaten down kids who didn’t give a damn about the future. We were living in the now. We were feeling. We we were sensing. We were talking about our troubled parents, and some of us were already checked in to 12-Step programs for our out of control drug problems or drinking. After school, while D was running track or wrestling, or doing church community work, I was hanging out at the bowling ally trying to get laid. OK, well, while he was at church community gatherings he was trying to get laid too. But, What different worlds we came from.

When he graduated high school, he went right into law school. And right after, got a job and struggled to pay off school loans. He worked and worked and worked and then married and had babies and there he was– a young attorney, not even 40. His whole life perfectly wrapped in a bow until one day his ex said she wanted a divorce.

When I graduated high school I went to an all-girls Catholic college in North Jersey, but after two year, I dropped out for bad grades and disinterest. I came back home and did virtually nothing for a year except work odd jobs and save money. Then I traveled. I lived in Paris as an au pair, then I worked in Greenland as a bartender. I traveled to London and Ireland and then came home and worked as a waitress and then a bookseller. I went back to school here and there, almost got married and then in ’96 met and eventually married my ex and moved to Spain. I thought I had won the lottery. Little did I know. I suffered and struggled through a bad marriage and knew I had to get out because of the number of times he cheated on me. So, I went back to school while caring for two babies. I got nothing but A’s and because of the amount of language classes and experience with language I had had, I was accepted into the National Honor Society. I won awards for my good standing and was on the Dean’s list the remainder of my college years. Ultimately, I graduated Magna Cum Laude. I worked as a creative at a small literary magazine and was poised to begin a career at a publishing house. But then my father died and left us his company, which forced me to find a life and a career for myself there. After my divorced I spent 7 years living alone with my kids. I paid off my house, traveled (with my kids) and worked my way through PoAs and overcame them. All that brought me to the same exact spot in life as D.

Funny how we grow and live and change. Isn’t it? Funny how these two worlds came together.

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