Saturday, July 08, 2006

Old Memories - Old Friends

It's funny how you suddenly remember something and all of the emotions from that memory come pouring back in. Luckily, these sudden memory bursts are generally good things for me...

Anyhow, I was remembering my friends in high school. We were an odd little group - looking back, I think we were all the leftovers that didn't quite fit anywhere else. It wasn't a bad thing. In fact, I think it was a good experience for all of us.

Let me explain what I mean about us being an "odd" group.

There was me. I was an adopted Korean girl from a very middle class environment. I dressed nicely - shirts tucked into my pants and hair pulled back in a pony tail. I was the all-American girl who was accepted into the inner circle (the in-crowd), but never quite fit in. I was not very outgoing. I moved quite easily through all the different types of groups - the inner circle, the scholars, the rebels... - but I never belonged.

There was my friend, T, who had bright red curly hair and a personality to match. She was the outspoken one and the rebel. She wore jeans with tears in the knees (not the trendy kind), t-shirts with heavy metal logos and hightop tennis shoes. People were drawn to her and they listened when she talked, but she turned away from being a part of the inner circles. She collected people like me.

T brought M, D, R, M2 and B with her. They were slightly geeky young men who played Dungeons and Dragons. They had a tendancy to move in and out of the inner circle world with more ease than I did. Several of them were a part of the music and drama world so they were just as used to being center stage as they were used to being back stage. None of them seemed bothered that I dressed differently than them and didn't participate in all their games. I was often happy to just sit back and watch - happy that they seemed fine if thats all I did.

We had C and R who were very religious. C and I looked more of a type. We dressed similarly and she had a naive outlook on the world that made me smile. One thing I shared with the rebel/drama group was a very liberal mindset and I often grimaced at some of the things that C and R would say, but it never turned any of us against the other. For the most part, we had a silent agreement not to talk about controversial things in eachother's presence. C and R may not have liked everything that T and M did, but they never said anything about it and vice versa.

D2 was our true rebel. He wore black leather and came pretty close to failing his senior year. He was actually the only one in our little group that wasn't a part of the honors program, but he had a good heart. What I remember about him was an unfailing loyalty to the people that he thought were worth it. For a short period, D2 and C hooked up as an item. That was funny - the bad boy and the good girl. It didn't last long and it didn't fracture the group at all when it was over.

C and I were really the only ones in our group that had much money (via our parents) so mostly we hung out at someone's house or at school. Most of us were in the marching band so we often had time to hang out during the endless practices and football games. I think it was better that way. We had more time to talk and be friends because we weren't jumping from one "cool" location to the next.

Looking back, I realize that I really had very little in common with most of them. What mattered was that I didn't feel self-conscious with them. I didn't worry about always saying the right thing or dressing the right way. For most of my early years (up to highschool), I wanted to fit, but I never had the personality to really make it work. I tried to make sure that I dressed the right way, read the right things...but nothing was ever quite right. Part of that was being one of the few minorities in my school and the other part was just growing up. I was never an outgoing child and I rarely wanted to stand out. It was pretty complicated because I didn't want to stand out, but I didn't like playing follow the leader either. The easiest way not to stand out (any more than I did as a Korean-American) was to blend myself into the background. With my friends, I didn't feel like I needed to worry about blending in and I didn't have to worry about standing out. It was a little odd, but it worked for me.

I've lost track of all of them now. I hear bits and pieces every once in awhile because my parents still live in the same place. When I went away to college, I was able to form different kinds of friendships (the kind with more staying power), but my highschool friends made a difference in my life. The biggest thing that I took away from our group was that you don't have to change to be a part of a group - the group changes by accepting you without question.

1 comment:

Third Mom said...

Those high school friendships and groups, even though they sometimes don't have lifelong staying power, really help us begin to find out who we are. And it sounds like yours gave you a chance to know all kinds of people, which is something that doesn't always happen. Very cool.