9.05.2013

Sweet Valley High...Again


The High School girls’ locker rooms haven’t changed a lot over the past decade or so.  Goopy lip glosses peak out from grafittied shoulder bags, a pair of jewel studded converse high tops have been tossed on a pile of jeans and the bathroom stalls are in various states of toilet papered disarray.

“Shut up.  You are totally going to make varsity”
“Yeah, but there are only 10 slots and –“
“Yeah and you are totally going to make it, you are so freaking tall”
“ohmygoshdoyouthinkso?”

I observe this conversation from in front of the bathroom sink, trying to remove my waterproof eyeliner before heading to the school weight room.  In fact, this conversation is happening in every corner of the locker room – some girls are speaking loudly and looking around to see who’s listening and others are timid, changing their clothes with their faces to the wall and whispering back and forth about who will or will not be on the varsity Volleyball team. 

And I don’t feel like I’m a grown up, I feel like I’m a new High School student with no friends and an awkward body.  And to have the near 30-year-old body reflected back at me in the 10th grade certainly would be awkward, but then I remember that I’m not vying for prom dates or looking for someone to be my BFF.  I’m an adult professional headed to the gym to keep my weight down and my premature hip arthritis at bay.   Very adult indeed.   

I’ve had several of these back to the future…er past moments over the last few days at my new job in the International School.  I read an article a few months ago (which I can’t find for the love, but I’ll keep looking) about the adolescent brain and even though it’s a relatively short time in our life, our High School age memories feel disproportionately vivid well into adulthood. 

The brain is buzzing with more dopamine activity than at any other time in the human life cycle, so everything an adolescent does—everything an adolescent feels—is just a little bit more intense ‘And you never get back to that intensity’” (saved the quote with no citation – bad librarian!)

You forget just HOW intense everything feels at 13 and 15 and 17 and then you see the first day faces on these kids and it comes back like your first mixed tape was given to you just yesterday.  For the record, my first mixed tape was a bizarre 3 part compilation of unheard of folk artists, terrible Christmas rap, Van Halen and heartbreaking Yo-Yo Ma performances.   I was a strange 16 year old and dated even stranger boys.  But I have a special spot in my heart for High School intensity - and perhaps strangeness as well - since during my first days of 10th grade I met the corduroy wearing 16 year old who would later be my husband.   

So “back to school” makes me excited and full of butterflies for obvious back to school reasons, reasons that don’t really go away when you become an adult – Will the other teachers like me?  Will I do a good job?  Will I wear the right thing?  - but I also remember what it feels like to be 16 and in love and confused and exhilarated and nervous and happy and independent and perhaps just slightly out of control.  And maybe this flood of emotion wouldn’t be so readily available to me if I weren’t sitting next to Mr. NOFX t-shirt wearing, guitar playing, head shaving heartthrob right now, even if he is wearing a suit and sporting a well-quaffed beard these days.


It pays to have such well read friends!!!  Thanks Marci
http://nymag.com/news/features/high-school-2013-1/  

7 comments:

  1. Love it. Good luck this year! I'm glad you finally have your dream job.

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  2. Is this your article?

    http://nymag.com/news/features/high-school-2013-1/

    hugs!!

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  3. Love this post, and good luck in your new job! Having my own child in high school has definitely brought back some sweet and painful memories as well.

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  4. Yes! That's it - thanks Marci.

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  5. Hahaha...NOFX.

    Also, you should take these experiences and channel them into a really fantastic YA novel. Do itttttt.

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  6. I think about that sometimes, Camille, and I get all worked up and then I read a really good YA book and think "I quit". ....I would DEFINITELY tap you to be one of my first readers :) (In the event that I overcome being paralyzed with self doubt...)

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  7. I think about that sometimes, Camille, and I get all worked up and then I read a really good YA book and think "I quit". ....I would DEFINITELY tap you to be one of my first readers :) (In the event that I overcome being paralyzed with self doubt...)

    ReplyDelete