the return

When I graduated from high school, I ran out of that place swearing that I’d never go back, ever. I was finally free. Never ever would I ever go back to the scene of countless emotional traumas.

So of course I just went back.

Dude.

Facebook was involved. I reconnected over there with my friend from back in the day, Paula. I thought it would be really fun to see her after almost two decades. Around that time, I was considering going back to my old high school for reasons related to the new book I’m writing. Then my lIbrary event was scheduled (thanks for an awesome time, Kimberly!) and…it all came together.

When we graduated, a massive renovation of the school was just staring. Now the kids have an insanely schmancy new auditorium, new high-tech photo lab, new cafeteria, new freaking everything. I’m all jealous of their improved school experience, but I’m not jealous that they’re there. I was drooling over the new science wing. The only remaining science teacher from the old days totally remembered me from Science League!

Which got me thinking about the things we remember about school and the things we block out. I seem to have blocked out a lot of the horror. That’s one reason I wanted to go back – I was hoping the visit might unlock some things. Paula remembers so much, though. She was telling me about all this stuff that happened and I was like, Really? I did that? She brought her photo album to show me old pictures of us. Here’s what’s strange: Looking at pictures of yourself with no memory of being there, doing whatever you were doing in the picture. Apparently, I was a Corn Flake for Halloween one year.

Was I traumatized by my return? Not at all. In fact, it was a good example of how time heals. To all of my teen readers who are having the worst experience of your life right now, please know this. The badness comes to an end. Your real life starts. And everything just gets better from there. So keep the hope of a better life alive, and one day soon you will be living it.