I went to a Halloween party and saw a couple of people from high school. It was funny to talk about now and then, and somewhere along the way I laughed and said “I was a very badly behaved teenager.” It kind of brought me up short when my old friend said “Yeah, I remember!” with a mixed expression of sternness and amusement. He was like that back when I was misbehaving too. I bet he went home with hopes that his kids aren’t me.
It’s odd to know how clearly he remembers my misbehavior, but without knowing that I’ve been a mostly responsible adult. He just remembers my reckless hedonism. To make things pinch a little more, he has moved to the little gossipy area where I grew up and has found out that everybody knows everybody else’s business there. It’s a reminder that there are a whole lot of people who probably remember the follies of my lawless youth.
I laugh and tell people that I went through a wild period. They just don’t really know what I’m talking about when I say it. They might think most teenagers miss curfew and break into somebody’s parents’ liquor cabinet. Maybe they do. Child’s play. When I say reckless, lawless, hedonism… well, maybe some of those things should remain secret?
I always seemed to have a duality to my nature, and I kept those parts separate from themselves. I had goals. I changed my brothers’ diapers and cooked dinners, did laundry and home repairs, plus whatever else was necessary while my mother worked second shift. When I wasn’t doing those responsible things all hell broke loose.
There was a time when my friends were comparing their report cards in the hall between classes. In a grading system from A to E, they congratulated each other for the lonely C’s and empathized with each over between their D’s and E’s. I shoved my report card deeper into my book, but one of my friends grabbed it and her look of disbelief made all of them grab it in turn, all of them looking at me like they never knew me at all before that time. I hung my head in shame. Straight A’s. Sigh. Not cool.
My friends were supportive, and I was glad I wasn’t shunned for being different. I went to advanced classes with their support and enjoyed being with the “good kids” who didn’t imagine me being anything other than one of them.
In a way, I feel like my current life is a remake of high school. I work at a church, do responsible things, and spend my days with people who probably never cut class when they were in school. It’s kind of like being with the good kids in Trigonometry again. It’s all a side of my nature, but at the same time I swear extra when I get home because I’m not actually that good.
At least I don’t keep my dark side hidden from myself the way some people do. That can eat you up inside. I figure it’s better to know my demons than to try to outrun them. I didn’t get a horrible disease or kill myself during my wayward youth so I figure it’s all for the best. No regrets. (Mostly?) But at the same time, maybe I should keep some of this history secret?