Where I'm from ...

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Photo from my high school yearbook ... looks like the photo was TAKEN in 1869 ...

Since I've been here and have made friends from different regions of the world, I've discovered that maybe my upbringing was a little more unique than I'd thought it was for the last 20-some years. Since I've been in a bit of a sentimental-kind-of-miss-home kind of mood lately, I looked for and found fragments that, together, paint a pretty complete picture of my adolescence. (Maybe not complete without some photos of me in the early '90s with the requisite scrunchies, biker shorts and leggings with lace hems, dancing to Vanilla Ice?)

Here's a trailer for a short film called "Killer," made by two guys from my high school ... they were pretty well-known in the school, Jack serving as the student body President his senior year and Adam serving as Publicity Secretary, if I recall correctly. If anyone knows who Lin-Manuel Miranda is (he created the Broadway show "In The Heights"), I'm pretty sure he served as Publicity Secretary my first year at the school.

Killer (also known as "Assassin") was a game played in the final months of the school year by the upperclassmen (and, occasionally, women). During those weeks the game was being played, everyone was on alert for water balloons flying out of nowhere, Super Soaker sprays, bullhorns, etc. As the students of my school lived in all five boroughs of New York City, the game was extra challenging and oftentimes involved travel to stalk opponents. The game was officially condemned by the school, but everyone knew about it and no one really stopped it from happening. By the summer I graduated, the game had gotten entirely out of hand. As you've probably already guessed, I never got involved with the game, but several of my dear classmates were kept from walking at graduation over the game that year. Let's just say one incident involved defecation and someone's doormat. Sorry for the visual.

... I also stumbled across this yearbook-type of video filmed by an alumni of my high school. Though I didn't enter the school until three months after most of this footage was filmed, this is exactly as I remember my school and the people in it. The only difference is by the time I graduated, the guys were probably -- on average -- about an inch or two shorter and 20-30 pounds lighter. We were a sleep-deprived bunch. I remember guys in the North Face jackets and baggy jeans, pretending to be more "hood" than they actually were; the way the hallways were always full of coats and papers and bookbags and legs and brown paper bags and Snapple bottles and half-eaten bagels; the way the girls wanted to grow up faster and the way the guys acted like they owned the Upper East Side; the way we pretended we didn't care about anything but cared all too much. 

My school was a 6-year high school, which was really a combination of junior high and high school, and it took in students only during the seventh grade year. Which means we spent six years with the same 225-250 people, which, by senior year, usually dwindled down to 150-175. This, I think, gave us a great sense of confidence as we rose up through the grades, getting to know our classmates and the years above and below us, and having the luxury to grow comfortable in our own skin. As much as the guys sticking their heads out of their limos look like douchebags, there was a time when I thought this was funny. I don't know if it's a teenage thing or maybe a gradual conforming to "the norm" at my school, but we all ended up with our heads a little too big and our voices raised a little too loud.

In mid-to-late May, pollen-filled flowers from the trees that surrounded the school would drop onto the cement sidewalks, onto the elementary school playground, the benches, the basketball courts ... everywhere, and with it would bring a week of unbearable allergies that cleared way for a strange magic in the air. When I think of May, I always think back to my beloved high school and the warm early summer afternoons spent trying to catch the attention of the boy I liked, getting him to sign my yearbook before the summer came and I wouldn't see him for 3 months, staying out later because of the longer days, Italian ices on the corners, the school Carnival ... 

I've been told so many times that College is the best time of your life, that High School should be forgotten. Maybe those people had miserable years in high school or truly fantastic college experiences, but I loved my high school and maybe I've romanticized my memories a little, but there is hardly a bad memory I associate with my six years there. 

I see some of my classmates on subways or on the street sometimes, and even if we weren't friends, we remember, because our school was just that small and six years is only your entire adolescence. A smile or a nod is usually exchanged as if we had spoken more than a few sentences to one another back then, but that's just the way Hunter worked ... when I left, I knew that no matter the good times I'd have in college, I'd come home and Hunter and my Hunter family would be there for me.

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