I am spending the next 3 days with my best friend and her family, and since she has four children under the age of five and a part time job…she’s tired. She and her husband have gone to bed, so I’ve retired to my room to get a little computer time in before going to bed myself. I’m so happy to be here with them. Her four kids, my Godchildren, are so adorable and so much fun. I miss the days when they lived only 20 minutes from me…rather than three hours.
Anyway, now that they are in bed and all four kids are asleep (I hope, for their sake, all four STAY asleep for several hours), the house is uncharacteristically quiet. I didn’t realize this house could get this quiet! There is usually someone crying or talking…or the sound of little bare feet slapping the hardwood floors. In effort to keep the house quiet and avoid somebody waking up, I’ve opted not to watch TV or watch YouTube videos (I forgot my earphones!). With all this silence, I’ve been sitting here thinking about things.
For some reason, I started thinking about high school. I probably thought about this due to my imminent birthday (March 6)…which makes me realize it’s been quite a long time since I was in high school! I’ve been out of high school long enough now that some of my old friends from those days have kids well into elementary school, some are getting divorced, some are recently remarried…we’re grown ups! When you’re in your early 20s, you consider yourself a “grown up” (and technically you are)…but when you reach my age you begin to realize you were still just a kid then.
I sometimes miss the carefree days of college…being on my own without really being on my own. I had the luxury of coming and going as I pleased without the burden of financial responsibilities bombarding me from every angle. It was still easy, and almost “fashionable” to stay up until all hours…sometimes it was even necessary if I had a big test the next day. I was always coming and going, spending more time with friends than alone or with family…and it was a tragedy if something happened to prevent me from spending time with them. Back then, my family were important to me, but my friends were my life. I spent hours talking on the phone (believe it or not, I actually went to college during a time when texting had not quite taken off the way it has now), and when I wasn’t on the phone I was with the people I was on the phone with.
During college and shortly thereafter, every aspect of life seemed so emotionally charged. It was much easier for me to become passionate about things. It doesn’t take all that much for people of that age to get into arguments with their friends, enter a phase where you aren’t speaking, etc. Of course, within the week it was all forgotten and life moved on as if it never happened. In college you don’t care as much about having nice things (except when it comes to technology), matching furniture, fancy dishes, and things like that. For people that age lucky enough to live off campus, it is not uncommon to have mismatched furniture in every room, sitting atop the 30-dollar rug you purchased at Walmart all on your own and are so proud of.
It’s strange to think about that time in my life, because it wasn’t really that long ago, yet it seems like it was. It’s strange to see how much your life changes and your priorities change in such a short span of time. When you reach my age, you have your own house, or at least your own apartment. You want your furniture to match. All of a sudden you find dishes and cookware interesting. You don’t have a Walmart rug in your living room anymore. Instead of wanting the fastest car, you want a practical car that saves gas mileage and has four doors to seat everyone comfortably and isn’t too hard to climb out of. If you have children, you actually want and maybe already have a minivan.
You realize how smart your parents actually are. Instead of being afraid of being caught out with your parents by your friends, you start to want to hang out with them. They are starting to be more like friends than parents all of a sudden. You don’t spend half the amount of time with your friends that you once did, because they’re all busy with their lives and so are you. Instead of going to bars or clubs when you do get to spend time with them, you just go out to eat or to each others’ homes. I never did lead a “party lifestyle” anyway, but I spent more time in bars then than I do now–which is never. In fact, I don’t drink at all now.
When you call or text your friends now, you don’t get upset or wonder what you did wrong if they don’t answer you. In fact, you find yourself feeling surprised if they actually do respond in a timely manner. It takes an awful lot for you to get into any sort of fight with a friend when you reach the end of your 20s. You’ve grown up and matured. Stupid petty things don’t upset you like they once did. And if you do have a falling-out with a friend, it’s over something pretty bad…something you and that person just do not and will not agree on. If someone hurts you, a lot of times you stop speaking to each other forever…not just a few days. Luckily it rarely happens, though…well, unless one or both parties have failed to mature with age which sometimes happens.
You begin to look back at all the friends you once had and you realize just how many people you have lost touch with. People who you spent practically every waking moment with in school are reduced to a Facebook friend you rarely hear from, with the exception of the random comment or like on your status or photo. It doesn’t happen with all your friends, though. Some friends you make in high school and college will be your friends for life. And you realize late in your 20s just how rare that is and how precious they are to you. You also make new friends at work, people who share your interests and become just as close to you as your college buddies were, even if you don’t spend nearly as much time with them.
While some of this may sound depressing to a younger person, it really isn’t. It’s just the naturally progression of life that comes with maturity. One thing you realize at my age is, while you do miss those days from time to time, most people wouldn’t go back if they could. When you get older and mature, you start to settle down and appreciate different things than you appreciated in school. I personally loved college, but I wouldn’t go back to those days no matter how much you paid me. Now those days are just fond memories of a good time, but I’m much more settled down and content with my life and myself than I’ve ever been before…and I like it.
Another thing that happens after school is that you become your teachers’ peers rather than their subordinates. I’m actually friends with some of my college professors and even a couple of my high school teachers. Some of the teachers I feared and even disliked in high school, I now look back on with respect. The ones I liked the least were the ones from whom I learned the most. Age becomes a far less important factor when you’re in your late 20s. In high school, it was just much too beneath you to be friends with people more than a couple of years younger, and the people a few years older felt the same about you. Now, I have friends decades older than I am! And I don’t think a thing of it. It’s natural to me.
I guess one of the saddest things to happen when you get older is you start hearing about the deaths of some of your old teachers from high school. The ones that were older and about to retire when I was in school are now dying. It makes me sad.
One of my best and favorite teachers from high school passed away not that long ago and I was so hurt by that. She was one of the teachers most feared by all the students. I almost took the class in summer school just to avoid taking it with her. Had I done that, I would have cheated myself in a big way. I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately. My senior English teacher taught me almost everything I know about writing. If it hadn’t been for her, I’d never have made it through college with almost a 4.0. I’d never have been able to use my writing as a source of income. You can’t tell from reading this blog, but I can actually write fairly well. Well enough to be published from time to time. I don’t take the time to make this blog perfect like I do my professional writing. I just write as it comes to me. Proofreading–ha! I just wish I’d have told her how much her class did for me.
One of the best things you can do for a teacher is go back when you’ve grown up and tell them how much their class meant to you or how it was a major part of your success. I would have told her eventually how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her, but I never imagined she’d die before I got the chance. It broke my heart. It broke a lot of people’s hearts. She was the best of the best of the teachers at my high school. It’s still funny to me how one of the most feared teachers at my school (and most hated by students who didn’t care to learn or even try) ended up being my favorite. After my first week in her class, the fear subsided and I was so glad I hadn’t taken the easy way out of her class. I miss her. I miss her so much.