One of the weird things about letting my girl read THE OBVIOUS GAME is that she's had more of a window than is probably good and right into my teenage years. So when I came home today from my twenty-fifth high school reunion and told her about how when my classmate driving the pick-up pulling the haybale-stacked float for the big Homecoming parade circled the town square three times and then just ... drove ... it reminded her of the sled scene in my book. Stupid, and dangerous, and totally, unfathomably fun.
And when I told her about coronation and how the president of my senior class made a lovely speech and told the bored seniors how they really could do anything jumping off from the platform of our small town, she asked if it was the same coronation I wrote about in my book. And it was. It's in a new building, but nothing's changed. The names of the kids are the same last names I grew up with. The smiling parents are now my age, but they're the same. The teenagers may have new concepts in what makes facial hair fashionable for boys or formal wear appropriate for girls, but they have the same impatience for the dance I remember. I'm just on the other side now.
But the ride. Sitting on a haybale on a flatbed on a float with people I've known since kindergarten or more and driving down the highway at least 45 miles an hour to a neighboring town, a neighboring bar, where the extra tables are made of plywood and the video games still take quarters ... that was like stepping into the past. Not having my husband and daughter along heightened the surreal quality because I, for once, had nowhere to be and no time to be there. I didn't even have a car this weekend. I was dependent on rides from other people, just like high school. And the same people stuffed me in their vehicles who had in tenth grade when I was a little late to get a license, Lisa, and it was awesome.
Because despite what a hot mess I was my senior year of high school -- and I know I was, all of you guys, and I'm sorry I wasn't more present and a better friend, but trust me when I say I'm just glad to still be here to share these days with you, because it was that bad, so please forgive me -- you people did raise me, for better or worse.
And this weekend when everyone just hung together on those haybales flying down that highway, laughing to '80s music and forgetting we have kids and jobs and mortgages, I understood maybe better than I ever did that you raised me. We had such a small group for so long, so different than the way my daughter is growing up with a middle school of 800 and a high school of 1200. We were lucky to have 100 in our graduating class. We didn't all have expectations we would go on to more school, and I wish we'd bring that back and be okay with it in my suburb today.
I read today an article about how kids now are physically safer than ever before but maybe too chained to their phones. When my girl asked me if it was smart to ride the float 15 miles, I realized, okay, NO, it wasn't, but at the same time I used my phone only as a camera and a way to send Bon Jovi to the Bluetooth speaker and at one point it became so coated in gravel dust I couldn't read the screen.
And friends, I felt alive.
Just like the me I used to be, and maybe still am.