Cringe

A cute little blonde by the name of Bridget is one of my oldest friends, and whenever we get together – or even just converse on gchat for more than a few minutes – the conversation inevitably touches on the past, on the shared experiences that only two people who grew up together can have.

And by that I mean she makes fun of me for all the ridiculous shit I have pulled over my lifetime thus far.

Yesterday was no exception. Before the clock had even hit 10 a.m. (generally the time of my second breakfast), she was bringing up our high school yearbook shout-outs. Because yes, she apparently has mine memorized. And listens to a Pandora station that features John Mayer (who’s the loser now?)

The blurb written by 17-year-old me started off with this quote:

“Still ‘everything happens for a reason’ is no reason not to ask yourself, are you living it right?”

Which, yeah, is pretty lame. In my defense, this was way before John Mayer became the embarrassing douchebag he is today. At that point, he was mainly just a kid from my hometown who had recently graduated from playing at local bars for a bunch of sweaty, underage kids to playing at mid-sized auditoriums for a bunch of sweaty underage kids (Hartford Civic Center, anyone?)

So, especially in that context, the quote might have been excusable. “Everything happens for a reason,” blah blah blah – I was never one of those “footprints in our hearts” people, but c’mon, it’s a high school yearbook. You kind of have to veer more towards the sappy than the sarcastic, right?

The real problem is what comes after the quote. And I’m only telling you this because we’re among friends, ok?

“Still ‘everything happens for a reason’ is no reason not to ask yourself, are you living it right?” We are.

There’s just something about those two little words that totally kills me now, looking back on it. Like, someone should slap that girl in the face. And take away her headphones. Who exactly did I think I was? Was I really that cool and introspective and worldly?

In a word, no. Not at all. But I was pretty cute.

Ignore those elbow-length black gloves, feather boas and how I had to awkwardly crop my Dad out of that last pic. I was adorable, right? Maybe I’m confusing that tan I earned at crew practice with some sort of a youthful glow, but to me, (the 25-year old me), that 17-year old kid just looks so…happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I went through some really rough periods in high school, rife with depression and eating disorders and a general distaste for the world.  And, on a day to day basis, I was usually stressed out (hence my designation as Most Stressed Senior, also featured prominently in our yearbook.) But that’s the funny thing about being young – your feelings are so distilled, so pure and potent, but also so malleable. You can feel insecure one minute, invincible the next. Drama and fear and anxiety are so often laced with optimism. Because you don’t know any better. Because you have everything ahead of you. There’s kist nothing like the juxtaposition of all those crazy hormone-infused emotions.

Looking back at those photos, I can tell you this much: I felt cool. I felt …I really don’t know how to explain this, except to use a word so lame it rivals my awful senior write-up…I felt alive. I would go on to make a lot of mistakes and do and say many really embarrassing and regrettable things, all of which Bridget would later be able to bring up during our morning conversations. But back then, I wasn’t looking that far ahead. I was totally and utterly swept up in the moment.

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3 Responses

  1. thank god your eyebrows grew back!

  2. It’s OK Rachel, I still have a Kanye quote/lyric in my fb profile.

  3. pretty cute indeed. and i’m glad i made the cut even if irwin didn’t…

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