Chapter Two – High School Hell

22 May

I’d like to tell you that I had a great time in high school.

But I’m a terrible liar.

High school was, perhaps, the pit of hell. I know everyone says that. Everyone dressed badly, everyone had bad hair, braces, glasses, and everyone was awkward.

You don’t understand.

Without naming names, pointing fingers, or rehashing the past, let me tell you, in no uncertain terms: I was bullied. There were squad cars, and threats of harassment charges. It was stressful beyond anything a 15 or 16 year old should have to bear. And then I got sicker. More frequently. And I got headaches.

Because the girls were so ruthless, I started hanging out with a group of guys I will forever credit with saving me from myself. They took me in, protected me, made me one of their own.

And my Mom worried that everyone would think I was a slut. I wasn’t. In fact, I can assure you that I didn’t sleep with any of them.

Looking back, I can see how this was the start of my worry about what the world thought of me. Growing up in a really small town, everyone knew everyone. I couldn’t say the word “fuck” without my parents knowing within an hour. I wasn’t one of the “cool kids”, so I could exist pretty well under the radar, but it didn’t seem to matter.

At the time, I had one very close female friend, who endured what I went through. We’ve never talked about the effect it had on our adult lives, but sometimes I wonder if it fucked her up as much as it did me. Maybe I was just predisposed for the fucking up. She lives in Chicago, and we don’t talk a lot. But when we do, I still feel the connection that we had – high school hell is the glue that holds you together, I guess.

I also got into my first “big” car accident in high school, the winter after I turned 16. Turns out, overpasses ice first. I found that out by ramming head on into a guardrail. A few more feet and I woulda gone over the side, onto the highway below me. I’d really like to say my parents were understanding and happy I was safe. One of them was. The other ended his hunting trip early to come home and berate me for wrecking my (very expensive and irreplaceable) 1997 Chevy Blazer. I haven’t been comfortable driving in winter weather since, because I’m terrified if I wreck another car, I’ll end up being excommunicated from my family. (Have you started to count all my fears yet? Winter weather is near the top of the list.)

I suppose you can’t conclude a chapter about high school without mentioning your first love. I stole mine, at the expense of two really, really good people. Yes, I became a Homewrecker at the ripe old age of 17. We dated for two years, until the inevitable end came right before the end of my Freshman year at college.

(PS: His ex-girlfriend, the one I “stole” him from, is now one of the few good things I gained from my high school hell. We somehow managed to become friends – including a Spring Break together on Galveston Island, which, coincidentally, is not far from where I now live.)

(PPS: I don’t think I ever got to give the guy I cheated on a real apology. That’s the thing about being young and dumb, you forget that people have actual feelings. And I’ve spent the last ten years pretty wrapped up in myself. So I’m sorry, CB – you didn’t deserve the humiliation and pain I caused you. You’re a good person. I hope you can forgive me for being an idiot.)

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