A couple of my high school friends live across the street from my dad. My dad has actually moved twice since I left and this neighborhood is kind of on the outskirts of town–or at least it used to be when I was growing up. This evening, they’re having a little gathering of high school people and of course, we’re going.
When I graduated from high school, I was really ready to get out and get away from the people I’d grown up with. I grew up in the kind of town where you spent 12 years in school with the same people. I went to preschool with some kids I graduated with. I went to college eight hours away while many of my friends went just down the road, at most 3 or 4 hours away. Many of my friends came back on weekends or arranged trips with old high school friends. Not me. With the exception of one or two people, I really had no desire to see any of my high school friends again. Ironically, I met Mr. Geeky at my old high school boyfriend’s wedding and I still see him and his family once or twice a year since they now live just a couple of hours away from us.
I feel least comfortable with the friends who stayed here or came back here. I have absolutely no understanding for why someone would want to stay here. Not that I don’t understand someone wanting to stay near friends and family, that part makes sense, but there isn’t, as far as I can tell, much to do here in terms of work. Many of the companies that largely supported the economy of this city are gone or so depleted that they’re cutting jobs, not hiring. The downtown comes and goes, but mostly looks spent. There just doesn’t seem much going for this place. And so, I feel like I’m denigrating their choice to stay. I recognize that my sense is purely personal and superficial, based on driving around town and noticing more dilapidated buildings than new or remodeled ones.
And then there’s always the inevitable academic factor. My friends generally have jobs that are quite practical–doctors, lawyers, teachers, auto mechanic–things that make sense to them. But Mr. Geeky is one of them there college professors and I work with computers. We may as well be from another planet. And I feel bad, I really do, that we can’t explain what we do in three words or less. I don’t like it either, but that’s the way it is. There are friends I could see who would understand us even though they also have “practical” jobs. But these friends aren’t among them. Oh, and there’s the stay at home mom factor. All the women I went to school with who live here are all at home. Yet another alien factor. I hate that I understand why they chose to stay home, having done it myself for a while and having moments where I still want to, but they never seem to get why I work. And god, I hope politics doesn’t come up with our minivan emblazoned with its Kerry/Edwards and FSM stickers. Let’s just hope there’s alcohol cause obviously, I’m getting myself worked up into a frenzy over all this.
The thing is, I didn’t know these people that well in high school. We had friends in common and it’s a small place so you kind of know everyone. I can’t even fall back on stories from high school because we have none in common. Perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I mean, last night, I talked to a woman who told me if she had it to do over again, she’d be a lesbian. I swear there’s something about turkey that makes people crazy, including me.