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Sunday, November 3, 2013


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?


  1. Your sentence 'In a way, I feel like my current life is a remake of high school' made me wonder of that counts for me too.

    I'm home schooling my daughter and so, yes, I have these school flash-backs all the time.

    But your sentence made me think of something else too. Do we really mature and grow old? Isn't a big part of us the same as when we were hight schoolers? Especially when we enjoy parties of hang out with friends?

    Of course we do mature and grow a bit wiser, but I think one part of us stays 'high schoolish'; our love for fun, our (artistic) need to experiment, and our liveliness.

    Hurrah to all older and wise high schoolers.

  2. Yes, keep the secret. :) Some things are meant to be kept under wraps... until your tell-all novel, of course.

  3. Hmmm...wild sides. I kept mine hidden - if I didn't do well, I wasn't allowed to go to ballet class. But just yesterday I mentioned something to current friends that seemed a little risky to share. On the other hand, aren't you GLAD you did that stuff, whatever it was. I wouldn't "prim up" for the world! Love this illustration - your rocky youth :-)

  4. I was originally just going to say how BEAUTIFUL your painting is--the lovely dark stones against the lovely light stones, but then I read your post....wow. Great discussion of the different sides of people. I think often about how I'm not really any different than I was in high school--or maybe, really, when I was eight, because high school was overlaid with a whole lot of other anxieties. But I think it's more than wonderful how complex people are, and how there are so many different facets of one's personality, and how you need to celebrate each and every one of them. Thank you for a wonderful post! (again!)

  5. Thanks everybody! I spoke with someone yesterday who pointed out that young people may not know what it's like to be old, but it's a problem when old people forget what it's like to be young. It is wonderful how complex people are. It keeps them interesting :)

  6. We all have different sides, wild or quiet

  7. I was just telling my art crit group about some of the cleverly devious things I did in school. I was a boring goodie kid. But those are the kind you have to watch out for. Sometimes. Anyway, my art group are goodie two shoes now. They found no humor in my antics and didn't even respond. Where can I find my people? Where?????

  8. More fascinating glimpses into your life Linda.....I so enjoy all these little gems ;0) I think we all have 2 sides, it makes us a balanced human being x

  9. 1974-79 did seem to have a different reality. I suspect there might've been some illegal reasons for that? I'm saying nothing at all about the quiet kids being the ones to watch. Being somewhat quiet, it might alert some well-deserved attention :) I think you're probably right about everyone having 2 sides Jane. It might keep us balanced, but I'm sure it also makes us more interesting!

  10. Linda my darling friend.. I have seen many of the generous and wonderful things you have done. You were my friend when I didn't have too many, when I myself was a crazy teenager trying to figure out how to be an adult at the same time as being a wife. You listened, you advised, and you were there for me when my sweet son had his surgery. you were one of 2 friends who even came to see him in the hospital. I used to watch you take care of your brothers, I remember helping you paint your bathroom green, and we made rubarb pies. As teens we all do stupid stupid things, but we have to remember we were just trying to figure life out back then. I've seen both sides of you, and I wish i could see more of you. Lift up your little nerdy head, girl. You are awesome. (love from a fellow nerd) -Beth

  11. That is so sweet Beth. Thank you! Sometimes I wish we were still sitting around singing musicals and making Chris nuts. You brought out my better angels. Anytime you're in Ohio!

    1. Hee hee I remember making him cringe with envy at our singing. (it was envy, right?) I haven't been to Ohio in a long time but I do plan on making it up there someday soon.

  12. Linda,
    I love your last lines,"it’s better to know my demons than to try to outrun them." Are you familiar with the Buddhist saying in the same vein (inspired by the life of the Tibetan yogi and poet, Milarepa)? It's "inviting your demons to tea." I really like this idea of making friends with our fears, rather than fighting them to the death, and I think you must have had lots of successful tea parties in your life! :-)

  13. I think maybe I have had a lot of tea parties Susan :) I really like your post on this topic too.

  14. I think we all have good and bad sides to our character. But I think most people don't face their demons and outrun them instead - as you say. Which I believe results in a lot of the double standards and moral we see today. I think experiencing both sides - and being consciously aware of them - will only make you a better person, and more compassionate with others that don't have all A's.

  15. Oh dear, I can't even imagine having any interest in meeting up with people from high school, even accidentally! Let them gossip. Sheesh. Everybody has two sides and so many factors are involved in which comes out at what time!

    As I said recently to someone else, I think most of us are doing the best we can. I *think* I'm much nicer than I was a youngin, a grumpy, outcast youngin. I really should get out of the house more and find other nice people. (Which is not to say I don't get grumpy with some frequency... but I like to call it good-natured grumpiness.)

  16. Oh! And the painting (beans? stones?) is really lovely!

  17. Stones, but if you'd like to think of them as beans feel free Cindy :) I think we often put out the face we want to present to the world instead of the more interesting real person that has two sides. Maybe this is part of what people want to see in art? The other side of our natures that nobody want to admit to having? Thanks for the comments!