Walking With Ghosts

Like parenthood, I greatly underestimated the commitment needed to do student teaching.  I was at school fulltime, slowly taking over the teacher’s job, doing everything required of a teacher, plus doing everything required of a student.  So the blog had to be put on the back burner.  Again.

It was so weird working at my old high school.  Every corner held a memory rising up to meet me.

That’s the parking spot J, Speedo, and I always fought over.  I won most of the time because I more dedicated to winning than 5 minutes of extra sleep.

That’s the place I would wait for my mom to pick me up before I was hold enough to drive.  It was there Speedo convinced me to be in the first play he had written.  It was there we realized a New Jersey accent was the only one I couldn’t copy.

There’s the vice principal’s office where I was called because I had “ditched school and was found on our rival’s school property.”  “What?  Did someone check ‘my’ ID?”  “Um, no.”  “Did someone check the school records to see if I was here?”  “Um, one second. (pause).  You weren’t marked absent.”  “Then I suggest you tell their security guards to check IDs next time.”  Idiots.

That was the counselor’s office.  That was were I told my first grown up that I was suicidal as I held my best friend’s hand.

That was the wall they put our class hearts for Valentine’s Day.  Each student had a heart.  Each year I stole my best friend’s heart, so she thought she had a secret admirer.  She was all so excited.

That was my chemistry teacher/swim coach’s room.  I could almost see my self standing in there with him asking him some off the wall science question.  How does Advil work?  Why do we have eyebrows?  Could you help me with number 4?  So if someone were to swallow this… what do you mean ‘don’t ask?’  Um, would you, um, if you want, if you have time, would you, um, writemycollegereferenceletter?

That’s were the potheads hung out.

Senior year, after 5th period, that’s were I passed Speedo on the stairs every day.

That’s the classroom where I got my only B in English.  Jerk.

That’s the classroom where my junior honors English teacher asked me to join the poetry club.

I always had my locker in the 300 building.

Outside that door, I helped my friend stuff his bra with tennis balls, helped him put on and adjust his bra, and straighten his wig.  “You make a lovely Lady Capulet.”  “Thanks, Fae.”  “You know, you could’ve just changed the character into a boy.”  “Where’s the fun in that?”  Ah, drama boys.

I remembered the year they took off the doors to the bathrooms.

I remembered sitting outside waiting for the bomb-sniffing dogs to finish, knowing all along it was all a prank.

There is where we sat for lunch my senior year.  7 of us.  Then 6 when I couldn’t handle the trash talk of two of the girls.  Then 5 when I was asked back after the group made the two girls leave.

That was the spot I gave up chase and let AK run across the quad fearing that I would catch him and do something horrible to him.  He apparently forgotten my reputation when he suggested I go out to his car, so he could pop my cherry.  I rose slowly from my seat.  My best friend whispered, “She’s going to kill him.”  “If I catch you AK, I will make sure you can’t use your dick for a week.  If I can’t and I see you gain, I will rip it off,” I whispered.  He took off running, and I followed.  I never saw him again.

During an assembly, I scanned the faces imagining seeing my high school friends and I acting like high schoolers.

As I followed my class out to their spot to wait out the fire drill, I looked over to the softball field where a younger version of myself stood talking with my friend, nearly ignoring the softball game from the outfield.  There was a good solid crack of the bat.  Paying half attention to the batter, I turned to my friend, “Excuse me for a moment.”  I looked up and took a step forward with my mitt and hand in the air.  Rejudging the distance, I took three steps back and caught the fly.  With a jump step, I launched the ball straight for home plate where the other team’s runner thought he could steal home because the outfield held all the lousy players.  The ball went straight and hard without a bounce.  The catcher caught it and tagged the runner out.  The P.E. teacher, standing on the pitcher’s mound, gawked at me.  We hustled in to take our places in the line up.  “R——, where’d you learn that?” called the P.E. teacher as I jogged by.  I smirked.  “Ten seasons of fast-pitch softball.”

One windy afternoon, I walked out to my car later than usual.  The parking lot was empty.  I looked over and saw where a friend and I stood on a cement parking bumper.  We held our hands above our heads, pretending to be on a roller coaster.  Ah drama girls.

I’m just glad I never had to go into The Little Theater, where I’m sure the shadows and ghosts would be the thickest.


The View of Siblings

Saturday night before the game, we tailgated.  While I tried to corral Sean and convince Evan to eat, my brother and a couple of his friends showed up to liberate us of some of the food.  Proving that he is growing up, my brother also brought some beer to share.  As Sean decided to play in the dirt, I stood talking with one of the friends who was a bit tipsy and always flamboyant.  In the middle of the conversation, ranging from his reading only Maxim and his business plan of opening up a baby proofing store, he told me how cool it was that my brother and I got along and how my brother always says the nicest things about me and how I’m the serious one, the one with goals.  Excuse me? 


If I didn’t know the friend better, I would have thought he was a recent addition to my brother’s circle.  But the friend in question has been hanging out with my brother since he graduated high school.  And like most of my brother’s friends, my parents know and like this kid.  My mom claimed, on Saturday night, that the friend was welcomed to come by even with out my brother.  (It should be noted that though they still don’t think things through thoroughly, my brother’s friends are a bunch of comedians.  Think the show Jackass but with a cute lovable little brother side.)


So that’s when it hit me.  We are truly different from what others see of us.


I.  The Serious One.  The One With Goals.  Ok, granted in high school, I put my head down and rushed through high school, determined to get to the other side, collage.  I worked my butt off to get good grades, doing my time in National Honor Society.  I lettered in swim team three times as well as drama.  I became straight edge and spent many a Saturday night babysitting to make money towards college.  I went away for college, working my ass off because I was paying for it and I loved it. 


But me serious?  I was doing run by knockings between reading Goethe.  After freshman year, I adopted the theory that if I didn’t know my stuff by finals, I was in deep sh- anyways, so why stress.  I told other students that I had a fake major, one that could be purchased for 500 bucks through a mail course.  I did pranks that would later put me on probation, and I ran a miniature theft ring, stealing plastic gems from Disneyland.  (All in the name that it was ridiculous to charge five bucks for a bag of plastic that cost pennies to make; not real sound logic and incredibly stupid and self- centered.)  Hell, my best friend and I stole the local Republican headquarters’ Bush/Cheney 2000 sign that was 3 by 6 feet and ran it the several blocks back to the car because we didn’t have a car.  Before kids, I believed a healthy lunch was a carton of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and I threw a Halloween party in March.  I can quote whole episodes of The Simpsons, and I break out in songs and dances.  I’m completely not serious.  And if I was good with my goals, I would have a published book by now like one of my college friends.


My brother, now he’s serious.  Ok, granted he went through an alcohol-consuming, pot-smoking, girl-chasing phase, but underneath it all was the calculating, logical, serious brother.  He has always had his eye on the prize, imagining what business venture would make him the cash he wanted.  He’s a math wiz, wanting to major in engineering.  He loves cars.  He went from engineering to biology to finally business as majors.  Business!  Does that sound as non-serious as a creative writing degree?  He’s getting a minor in Spanish.  How absolutely practical, which compares to my two semesters of Italian.  He has his goals lined up, and he knocks them down.  He may have spent a semester in Florida partying, but he spent a summer working for my husband while selling jewelry on the weekends. 


It’s just amazed me that we see each other so differently.  We are pretty different.  I was the creative writer, wishing to be an artist; he was the designer of cars.  (I swear he was the first one to think of a Hummer limo.)  He puts people at ease; while, I am completely tactless.  He was the cool one, refusing to acknowledge me at school unless he needed a ride, and I was the one hanging out with all the nerds with enough pull to keep people from beating up my brother when he stepped on the wrong toes.  School and athletics came easy to my brother; I struggled to figure out how to learn.  As we grew older, college fit me like a glove, and my brother tried to understand the new concept of college learning.  When I was debating on going and getting my PhD in women’s studies, my brother was contemplating a career in breast augmentation.  At one point, I swore there couldn’t be any more different siblings.


But at least it’s nice to hear my brother likes me.  I like him.  It took years for us to get to this point.  At one point we both wished the other would just fall off the end of the earth.  We fought viciously to my parents’ horror.  But now I call him every week or so, and sometimes he even answers.  Really, he’s a great guy.  I just can’t believe he thinks I’m serious.  I wear fairy shirts for crying out loud.