Dear class of ’99,
I stand here before you today peering at all your faces looking for something to recognize and all I am finding are vague notions of familiarity… and only that occasionally.
We’ve grown up, we’ve moved on. Most of us look, to me, to be tremendously different to how we did ten years ago… the young, mostly clueless proto-adults about to make our way either to college or the military or the oilfield.
Me, I got a hat… and finally grew my hair out like I always wanted, added a beard to my ugly mug. Most everyone else, I see, has changed as well. We’re all older, gruffer and a helluvalot more attractive. Some of you may have been bombshells in your teens, but let me tell you… the twenties is where it’s at for hotness.
But, I digress…
I’m not up here or even at this reunion to receive any of the token awards or rub elbows with old friends or maybe even hook up with the cheerleader that I always had a crush on. No, instead I want to talk to you about how much I forgot about high school… because, really, I forgot pretty much all of it.
And let me be clear, I’m not kidding when I say I do NOT remember much about high school at all. I’ve blanked pretty much all of it out. I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but that’s the way it is.
That’s not to say I don’t remember a few things here and there… writing poetry on the chalkboard in math class, playing full contact tackle football on my lunch hour freshman year until someone got bloodied and we had to go touch (and where was the fun in that?)….
Mostly, I remember two things… taking physics from Debbie Prell (whom I miss dearly as a mentor)… and how horribly depressed I was all throughout my time in high school.
And I mean depressed… really depressed… horrendously depressed… the I-can’t-believe-I-wasn’t-heavily-medicated-and-institutionalized kind of depressed.
Let me tell you folks, I was in a lot of pain. There were plenty of times back then that I wanted to kill myself. There were a couple of times that I almost did.
I made it through by diving into fantasy… reading books, watching movies and playing games were my escape routes and I used them copiously.
And I survived….
Now, I’m not saying this to whine at you begging for your sympathy or rail at you for not noticing or caring. It was high school… it was shit for most, if not all, of us. And I’m not saying this to rage at you for us not being friends or confidants or even lovers. It was high school… ‘nuff said.
The reason that I AM going over this was that I wanted to say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I never got to know most of you and find out about the real you… the ones who wanted to go pro or become lawyers or doctors or nurses. The one’s who wanted to be writers or mechanics or parents or chefs or social workers or….
I’m sorry I was too much the coward to try and make a meaningful connection with you, worried as I was about myself and not others.
I’m sorry I didn’t ask several of you out… I’m sorry that I didn’t let in those of you who were trying. I’m sorry that we never became long lasting friends. I’m sorry that we never fell in love.
They say that you should live life without regrets… and that the past is the past, not to dwell on it, only learn.
Well, I say that, if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would.
I think that if someone invented a time machine and allowed me to roll back time and become the boy I was back then, knowing what I know now, it’d all be different. I’d’ve been a better student, a better person, a better friend.
Paradox be damned.
But… that’s the beauty of hindsight, I guess. I can make grand, sweeping pronouncements of how things would be wonderful if only I could do it once more. I think we all wish it were possible at some point or another.
And all I can think is “oh well, I guess all we can do is move forward.”
I’d like to punch it in it’s stupid face, sometimes.
And, speaking of time, I think I’ve taken up enough of yours, so let me just leave you with this:
To all the people I’ve wronged, please forgive me. To all the people who may have wronged me… well, I’ve honestly forgotten it all since then, so don’t worry about it.
To the class of ’99 and the upper and lower classmen around us… I love you and wish you the best. Be good. Live your lives, love each other (and me if you get the inkling) and… forget everything that brought you pain, both then and now.
Now, I think I need a drink… who’s with me?