15 October 2012

[talk: nineteen.ninety.two.]

It's Sunday night ... so much going through my head today.  It was a great day, a great weekend - so much to put down into words.  I think I may just babble - but I'll try to stay on topic *wink*.

Well ... on Saturday night, it was my twenty-year highschool reunion.  Yee gads and little fishes.  MY TWENTY YEAR REUNION.  Just typing that seems like there must be some massive mistake.  But alas ... it is not.  I'm just getting old.  But guess what?  I'm not alone *grin* ... oh no - there was a room FULL of people, just like me - wondering where the time had gone.

Oh dear.  I'm already ahead of myself.  Let me try and start from the beginning ... 

I actually went to a few schools growing up.  A private school in Vancouver that no longer exists, until grade three.  Then in grade 4, I attended Devon Gardens Elementary ... a school that I have such amazing memories of.  I loved that school ... playing "chinese skip" with elastic bands, being chased by boys with their "lego cameras" (don't ask) and trying to get onto the Fort - where the grade 7's made life extremely difficult.  I made some great friends, friends that I thought would be my besties forever.

Well, after grade 7 - I headed to Delview Jr. High ... where I would spend two very different years at.  My grade 8 year was fantastic.  I had a great group of friends, I loved everything about junior high - the lockers, the binders, the new friends from all the other elementary schools.  I loved the smell in the school, wandering the halls and bumping into people I knew at every turn.  I loved .... I LOVED grade 8.  I wasn't popular ... oh no.   I certainly wasn't the pretty one, or the althetic one ... I wasn't on the honour-roll ... or had the lead role in the school play.  But I was so very happy.  Life was good and I looked forward to every day.  Truly.  

Then ... during the summer going into grade 9, everything changed for me.  My friends started partying and I drifted away, bit by bit.  I would spend so much time, cryig in my room.  I could peek out my window, watching my friends hang out in the ravine behind my house ... doing stuff I just wasn't wanting to be a part of.  They weren't bad kids, but I just felt so different than all of them ... I wasn't interested in being a part of what they were doing - but they were my friends.  By Monday morning they all had new memories together.  And I didn't.

Grade 9 was a lonely year for me ... and I don't think anyone really even noticed - not that they should have.  My friends were never mean to me, they never made me feel like I was no longer their friend.  But I knew that everything was changing.

Gosh.  Just typing this has me feeling choked up ... 

Why?  Because I made a really difficult decision at 15 years old to leave Delview and to go to Pacific Academy starting in grade 10 ... which changed everything for me.

I had loved Delview and the people there SO much.  They never even knew how much I did ... people there would have no idea how much I still think about them, how I pray for them ... and how saying good bye to them all almost broke my heart.

*blush*.  And none of them really knew.

Starting Grade 10 at PA was tricky ... it was a much smaller school, MUCH smaller (my grad class was 47 instead of 800 like it would've been ...).  I was the new girl - some people liked me, some didn't.  But I eventually made good friends there - friends that are still in my life (saw many of them just today ...).  And truth be known, I miss many of them that I've since lost contact with ... So I'm thankful for all of them, but missing out on heading to North Delta Senior Secondary (NDSS) after Jr.High ... it was strange.

Oh wow ... this is long-winded.

Anyway ... flash forward a few years - and I decided that I would try and arrange a little reunion of my grade 8 friends from Delview.  I was 20, I guess ... and would you believe - I found a lot of them just by using the phone book and we all met for dinner one evening.  And the whole thing was really special to me.

Then ... out comes facebook and I started to connect with so many people from those jr. high years.  Obviously, it was superficial ... but still.  It was pretty cool.  And because of FB, I have ended up photographing a couple of weddings from past classmates, and  even family shoots as well ... it's all been a bit mind-blowing.  So when rumors of a NDSS reunion started up ... I wondered if I would be brave enough to go ... or if I even should.

I had ended up connecting with a few girls - girls that I had seen over the last couple of years - and we braved our fears, and headed into the reunion.  It was held in New West - and apparently something like 170 people had tickets to come ... 

We arrived ... and my heart was pounding.  I mean - I didn't ACTUALLY graduate from NDSS.  I left these people at the end of grade 9.  And you know what?  I was SCARED stiff.  I had fears that no one would remember me ... that it would be like, "um - who's THAT?  Why is she here?"  ... how jr.high can you get??  I felt like I was 14 all over again.

But now, 24 hours later, I can say that I am SO SO happy that I went.  I saw so many people, so many that I truly cared for ... people who I have memories with that I think about - not just here and there - but often.  I am someone who loves people with my whole heart, and when I look at someone and say, "Oh my WORD - I am SO excited to see you!!"  ... I mean it with every cell in my body.  I did that so much Saturday night.

I saw people who were my friends back at Devon Gardens Elementary - the place where I was the "new kid" in grade 4.   And it was a funny thing - sure I didn't share my life story in detail that night ... I didn't talk about Shalom's death, about events in my life that made me who I am today ... but in those moments, those ones where my grade 4 "I'll protect you, friend" EP says, "TANIA!!!" and picks me up and hugs me like we were separated at birth.  Man.  It was just the best.

What surprised me the most - is that people remembered ME.  I mean - I knew THEM ... (well - at least the Delview-ers ...) first names, last names, phone numbers, locker locations ... but they would smile, throw their arms up and say my maiden last name (my jr.high nickname) ... and I was shocked.  Seriously.  SHOCKED.  

And the cool thing?  At reunions, there are no status'.  I mean - everyone was mingling with everyone.  I mean, I'm sure that there were many people who chose not to be there, people who didn't enjoy a moment of high school ... but for those who came out - at least for me - it will be a treasured memory that I will think of often.  I didn't feel like an outsider at all.

Did I take photos?  Would you believe ... no.  Just one - of the chandelier in the hall *grin* - taken with my IPhone.  Why?  Well - I was going to bring my camera - but then, I knew what would happen to me.  I would miss the moment ... I would be in "work" mode.   And this may sound strange ... but those moments, when I saw Janice or Keith or Loui or Daniella ... those moments when I literally knelt in shock ... they're in my brain forever and ever ... 

Now, in a few weeks, I have my PA reunion.  It will be so, so different from what I just experienced.  We're going to a classmate's place, having potluck appys and dessert ... it will be far more cozy and intimate - maybe 20 or 25 will come ... 

But I'm excited.  REALLY excited about that ... especially now that I know how amazing reunions are.


Does any of this make sense?

I just read through all of this - and so many emotions are running through me ... but I guess, I can't put any of those feeling into words.  But if you're reading this - if you and I ever knew each other in school ... know that YOU are probably one of those people who's face scans over my mind over and over again.  

Have a great one :-)!


Jessica said...

Great post Tania!

This brings up a lot of memories and "what ifs" for me. I remember Devon Gardens fondly (for the most part), but went through a very similar experience in Grade 9 at Burnsview. I'm so glad you shared your experience. I also felt a huge shift that year with friends going in different directions (and yes, I remember the ravine behind your house). There is an unbearable feeling that everything and everyone is changing. No one was mean or pressured me either, but I knew that if I wanted to stick with my friends, I would have to change...act, talk, and BE different.

Maybe all teenagers go through these growing pains at some point. Trying to figure out where they fit in and the person that they want to be going forward. It can be scary and lonely. Friends are a huge part of your life at that age, and I think sometimes we try to forget how painful this can be.

I ended up moving away so a lot of these issues went away. The pressure to stick with my friends wasn't there anymore. I play the "what if" scenario, wondering what my experience would have been like if I had stayed.

Anyway, sorry to blab on and on :) Just wanted to let you know that your story struck a cord. Thanks for your honesty and openness.

Tawn said...

Jessica - thanks for sharing ... so great that you did :-). I threw a lot of stuff out there - and began to wonder if I was all alone in these feelings. But a few of you brave souls contacted me and "high fived" me, saying - "girl - I know EXACTLY what you're talking about".

Love that. thanks again :-)