Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Running into Classmates

I got an email from a high school classmate (let's call her Becky), and it really shocked me a bit. We were in a writing club together in high school. She was a very talented writer, and I was in the club because I wanted the extra credit for senior English. We published a literary journal, and Becky's work was all over the place. I imagine she had 1/6 of the pages in the journal. She wrote poetry, short stories, Haiku, all sorts of things.

Because of our last names, we were in the same homeroom throughout high school, and the only time I really got to know anything about her was in that literary club. You know, when you are in homeroom for only 15 minutes at a time, and there is nothing but disseminating information to people throughout the year. Then, senior year we spent two afternoons a month, sometimes more, working on evaluating writing talent. I always thought I was a bit more objective about evaluations. None of my friends submitted to the magazine, and I didn't even submit (until the advisor made me). Many of the pieces were about teenage angst. Some were raw; most tried doing things that they would be ill-advised to try. Talking about love, death, longing, all from the memory of high-schoolers.

In reading Becky's email, I was surprised to find that she did not do anything with writing. She has her own small company, and she is an artist. She did not graduate college (she dropped out after a year), though she graduated high school with honors. She has studied, but mostly with small seminars and the like.

I have seen her art, and it is beautiful. It looks like a mixture of impressionism and folk art. Not sure how else to explain it. The thing is, she was considered the most talented writer in my high school, and she does something that has nothing to do with writing. I am sure the biggest tramp while I was in high school put her tramping skills to good use. Why not the writer?

I guess part of the reason I don't try to reconnect with people from my high school is because I don't want the carefully crafted image I have of them to change. I thought I knew these people; sort of like some of these writers thought they knew about love, life, and angst. And I knew in which direction their lives were heading. I just don't want to know that the skillful writer became the artist, the tennis star is selling shoes, the brainiac who breeds dogs. Not that they are not worthwhile professions, but they are not my vision for the future.


Advizor said...

I'm just the opposite. I love going to class reunions because I get to see
the basketball star selling toner for copiers,
the super mean cheerleader whacked out on Prozac,
the super hot dance queen looking like 8 miles of bad country road


My first girlfriend happy and cute
My nerdy friend as a published author
My psychotic 2nd girlfriend on the right meds, stable, employed, and looking great
My favorite teachers still alive, and the one I hated finally retired

I love seeing where people ended up and where they are headed next.

And as for your writer turned artist friend? Those paths are are almost the same, creative, scary, challenging, and creating something new where nothing was before.

Do you have a link to her gallery on-line? Finding new artists is always very rewarding.

Deb said...

Life is all about changing. We either accept it or not. I was a very talented artist when I was younger. I never pursued this as an adult. I became a writer when I was 30 years old. People change, our wants and desires change and sometimes, unexpected talents seeps out of us out of nowhere, that we had no clue about. Even as parents, we want our children to remain small and innocent, but they grow up and become adults, some unruly and some turn out fine. Regardless, they change.

Grant said...

I have no desire to reconnect because we moved a lot and I was always the new kid / outsider. In fact, my high schools held their 10 and 20 year reunions and didn't invite me either time. If you ever hear that I ran into a former classmate, you should ask me how I would rate the shop who repaired the body work on my car.

Anonymous said...

Most of my high school friends are doctors, lawyers, IT Admins, Naval Commanders, dentists. It makes you feel bad sometimes when I pony up a lowly "web guy".

LarryLilly said...

You confuse the actual path with the ability to create a path. It is not important that they still write, or compute or vegetate, just that they have taken over their life using these skills that now makes them happy, or at least allowing satisfaction at some level.

I never read lit when i had to, now, i read it because I want to.

Under the Influence said...

I have attended three HS reunions and have enjoyed them for a variety of reasons - mostly because I am pleasantly surprised to see and talk to people I thought I didn't give a damn about.

I do have a small set of friends that I have regular contact with - some I have known since I was four and went all the way through school with them and onto college with a couple of them. We are all in different parts of the country now, but we still talk and try to get together in a central location every 5-10 years!

Xmichra said...

wow. I think that's kinda harsh. I understand what you're saying, but you sound so dissapointed... hard to live with (for the person dissapointing you). I definately would have been "one of those" for you.

Malach the Merciless said...

At least she is doing something creative.

darrellben said...

Great thoughts!

I love your writing style.