Back to School
My school days may be forever behind me now, but when September rolls around I can still watch "Freaks and Geeks" and it's just like being back in high school. The same excruciating pain, but a whole lot funnier.
Actually, the school in "Freaks and Geeks" isn't much like the one I went to. Mine was a private Catholic school, and comparatively small, and as I told my husband while we were watching an episode the other night, "we had subtler forms of social humiliation." But although subtle, they were no less effective. I guess I shouldn't complain - for most of my four years I had a nice, small group of friends, and nothing really truly bad ever happened to me - but we all have our battle scars. (Hiding in the bathroom to furtively eat your lunch, anyone? Oh the memories.)
I was thinking about how in many ways the defining theme of the show is how much Lindsay, the smart "good girl," has to learn from the bad kids she so wants to be accepted by. She might be a "mathlete," but there's a whole realm of human nature she doesn't understand, everything a sheltered good girl with nice parents doesn't learn until she starts hanging out with the streetwise "freaks." I myself didn't have much of a desire to hang out with "the bad kids" in high school (that came later), but I can relate to having felt desperate to fit in and hopelessly lost about how to do it.
I came across the blog of one of my high school classmates the other day - the only one I've ever found, actually. I was led there by Facebook, another school deja vu (I feel like half the people I know popped up on it all in the last week - Facebook, you're on fire!) and as I browsed through the blog's archives, full of interesting, expressive posts about her creative life and her young family, it made me happy to see what a nice life this woman seems to have. I remember her as very eccentric, rather extravagantly so, and occasionally paying the price for so unabashedly being herself. We were pretty friendly with each other, but I know I still gave her a hard time once or twice, and for what? Wearing a bindi on her forehead one day? And this was decades before Madonna did it. The girl had vision!
I don't know that she was particularly unhappy at the time - she had a group of friends of her own, and her own thing going on - but let's just say neither of us would have been elected Homecoming Queen if our school had such a thing. (Wait, did we? It's telling that I can't remember.) I guess I just felt good to know that being set free in the great big world had given her unique peculiarities the room they needed to unfold. High school just isn't big enough for some personalities - they need a bigger field in which to grow.
So high school classmate, I salute you. Remember the day you wore a veil draped over your face, and our history teacher made a crack about journeying in the Sahara? I do. You had a lot more nerve than most of us.