Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Where You’ll Find Us

He was overwhelmingly the class misfit.  His high-water pants, obviously home rendered haircuts, perpetual simpleton grin and blemish riddled face made him a prime target for ruthless bullying by students and teachers alike.  I was something of a freak as well.  The painfully shy new kid wearing skinny 501’s in a sea of wide leg jeans, my unruly curls refusing to feather like the hair of the popular girls.  I was amiable towards him, but my niceness was not driven by any sense of moral righteousness.  Out of place myself, I simply reciprocated kindness back to anyone who chose to be kind to me, though I’m sorry to admit now that I had my limits.  When he summoned his nerve and asked me to the prom, I said no.

Ten years and an upcoming reunion later, I heard through the grapevine that he was missing-his name, like mine, on the list of classmates whose whereabouts were unknown. I don’t know why that came as a surprise to anyone.  While wide leg jean and feathered hair memories kept some firmly rooted in the place and time of their greatest happiness, the rest of us were forced to journey on, looking for our happiness further down the road. 

Sadly, he had the most baggage to carry along the way.

 

This piece was inspired by the prompt to use the third definition of FREAK (noun)

: one that is markedly unusual or abnormal: as

a : a person or animal having a physical oddity and appearing in a circus sideshow

b slang (1) : a sexual deviate (2) : a person who uses an illicit drug

c : hippie

d : an atypical postage stamp usually caused by a unique defect in paper (as a crease) or a unique event in the manufacturing process (as a speck of dirt on the plate) that does not produce a constant or systematic effect

 

 

43 comments:

  1. i hope he is well. Much to ponder as my own twenty year reunion looms five weeks away.

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  2. Me too Lisa-I Googled him recently wondering what he'd ended up doing, etc, and couldn't find him. I still can't believe how much he was bullied-and by teachers, no less! I've yet to go to one of my reunions;)

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    1. I'm not going to the formal dance part of the reunion I decided, but I am going to do the family picnic the next day.

      I think every school had a few folks like that back in the day. I can think of a couple from my classes too.

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    2. Lisa-I think that sounds wonderful! More relaxed and having your boys along will be such fun too! I'll write this weekend! xx

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  3. Sigh...! I had that same pair of 501's, and a boy's haircut in a school full of dresses and high heels. Talk about that Sartre-feeling...

    Beautifully written, Valerie.

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    1. Dawn, We'd have been friends, I think:) Thank you so much for reading this!

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  4. Lovely piece Valerie, especially given that I'm amongst the non-traceable ones too.

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    1. I like the word non-traceable. As we get older, we can choose to try to remain unfound, can't we! Thank you so much!

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  5. That piece feels so lived in, I feel I know these people. I think I was that girl in high school and I definitely knew a few guys like like that. It's sad how easy it is to let people like that slip out of our lives.

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    1. I love your comment too! There were lots of us-and we have to stick together:) And I agree, it is very sad how someone can slip out of our lives.

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  6. Oh Valerie I agree with your commentor above I think we all have people who fit in these descriptive roles. I hoped high school was just a time to get through and the best was yet to come sad thinking for a lot of people. I like this very well written it made me sad. B

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    1. Thank you so very much, dear B. I get sad when I think about this boy. I hope he's had a happy life in spite of his high school experience:)

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  7. Was that you? Is he gone for sure? Know that 30 people have died from my graduated class in 40 years. That is too many. My class can't find me; too many last names from 3 marriages and they gave up, I guess. :( hahhahahaha, it is okay really.

    Leopard you say? Wait 'til tomorrow..............

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    1. Renae-it was me, and unfortunately for the student it was all too true. I'm hoping this fellow is alive and well and has moved on and succeeded in life-more so than the kids who were so mean.

      I can't wait for tomorrow!

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  8. This is a wistful, thoughtful piece. I love it when a Trifecta post makes me think. Great job!

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  9. This is so lovely. There's so much to reflect on as we mature. Thank you for linking up.

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    1. Thank you so much! That is so true!

      And by the way, these prompts are really helping me improve my writing:)

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  10. I hope his life turned out well. Sometimes after the restraints of high school, we are able to leave some of the baggage behind and lighten the load.

    I could relate to so much of this - the button-up 501s, the unruly curly hair, the out-of place feeling. I haven't gone to any of my reunions, either. I don't think I ever will.

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    1. Janna-Your comment is so true. I found college to be exhilarating after high school-definitely a happier time. I doubt I'll ever go to a reunion either.

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  11. Such pain, I can imagine why he doesn't want to revisit the high school hallways. It would be good to know how his story unfolded after that time, and after reading this, I think he would be very pleased to know how you are too.

    You've captured those emotions and that time, very well.

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    1. Jo-Anne, I've thought about him often, wondering...Thank goodness that for most of us high school doesn't define the entirety of our lives:)

      Thanks so much!

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  12. This is so well written. Great job!

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  13. wow ... excellent piece .. when is the book coming out.

    your use of words and descriptions is A+. my grandma would have loved you! .. she was an english major & school teacher of many many years .. used to give me back my letters to her with red circles for correction .. I can laugh now.

    "home rendered haircuts" .. I laugh .. but remember those! how did we get past our youth? they say things build character!!!

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    1. Lisa-you've made me blush, my friend! Thank you!!

      My grandma was a school teacher too! I bet she'd have loved your grandma! And it sounds like we've both had plenty of character building;)

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  14. What a lovely description, of him, of you, of then.

    I loved this line...the rest of us were forced to journey on, looking for our happiness further down the road.

    Although I am glad that I was forced to journey on, I can think of no larger tragedy then for my life's happiness to have peaked at 16. And your journey certainly turned you into a lovely writer.

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    1. Jennifer, thank you!

      There are people from high school who never did move on. Life for them was never able to come up with anything else that could compare to those three years. I feel sorry for them.

      Again, thank you for such a sweet comment:)

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  15. You've certainly captured the uneasiness that I don't think is uncommon between high school memories and reunion. I stopped going because I was likely the one with the most emotional baggage. Just didn't want to explain to anyone from another era. Emotionally drawn into this right away and you kept me until the end where it hit me hard. Well done.

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    1. I know exactly where you are coming from Maggie:) Thanks for you comment!

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  16. Bullied by teachers? How sad! No wonder he didn't want to be found for his reunion. Truth be told, my 10th reunion was last year and I didn't go either :) Great storytelling in this piece, Valerie!

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  17. The bullying by teachers was the most shocking thing of all. Once, my English teacher mistakenly called another student by this boy's name. The teacher then went on to apologize profusely, even jokingly offering the student money to make up for it-all while this poor boy looked on, growing redder by the minute. It was horrible, yet no one ever called that teacher on the rug for what he'd done.

    Reunions are definitely something I'll never go to!

    Thanks so much for your comment, Tammy!

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  18. Very nice and poignant piece. Bullying teachers...horrible.
    PS..if you're interested, another challenge..http://yepirategunn.weebly.com/2/post/2013/06/ligo-haibun-challenge-0706-1306.html

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    1. I appreciate that comment, Pirate, and yes, I'd love to join your challenge! Thanks for asking!

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  19. Great piece. I understand this so well.

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    1. Thanks Kelly! Your reaction is exactly what I hoped for-I wrote it for all of "us" out there:)

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  20. High school can be so painful when you are just the least bit different. I hope life treated him well. What is amazing is how many bloggers have such terrible high school experiences. I was the odd one out too. I never allowed bullying in my classroom and some of the time I was successful. I remembered bullying and I graduated 39 years ago.

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  21. Ann, I've noticed that too. I think writing is so healing for many of us. Sad that bullying has been around forever, and will always be too, but I'm glad it's made us more sensitive to the plight of those who are bullied:) Thanks for your comment!

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  22. Oh high school, thou art a witch!
    Oddly enough I didn't mind high school. Part of it was that it was a small, parochial high school where many of us knew each other going into it. There weren't major cliches in my class. Most tables welcomed other tables to sit with them at lunch. Perhaps I'm a bit biased since I had a great group of girlfriends (many of whom are still my best friends today) who were and still are all kind and generous.
    Valerie, I hope your classmate found his happiness and was able to downsize his baggage and put wheels on it!

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  23. This made me feel sad for all those kids' names I don't remember. I wasn't super popular - somewhere under the radar I guess. Your writing brought up a sadness for those kids though.

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  24. I love my reunions, but not the darker side of some memories. This was lovely and introspective and a little tough to read. Thanks.

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