I snuck out a total of once in high school (and yes, yes I did get caught, but that’s a story for another day). I was eighteen and a senior. We hadn’t lived in Arizona for very long and I never really felt like I fit in (that’s the story of my life).
Anyway, I snuck out.
I snuck out and went to a desert party.
I snuck out and went to a desert party and had a beer and sat in a lawn chair around a bonfire trying to look like I knew what I was doing. Or like I was invisible. Mostly the latter.
And this really nice, funny guy from my English class (hi, Alex!) sat down next to me and asked me to the prom.
So really, even though I ended up getting grounded until the prom, it was totally worth it.
This thing happened this week where someone tagged a picture of me on Facebook from senior year of high school. It’s 2004. It’s prom. There are fourteen of us in the photo, and we are all adorable babies with corsages and gelled hair. I might have this wrong, but in my mind it was a group of guy friends that sort of put the whole thing together, and I didn’t know the other ladies very well. But it was a fun night. We took a limo, ate at Ruth’s Chris, danced, went to an after party.
It was eleven and a half years ago.
Two people in the photo have since died.
Some have moved away. Gotten engaged. Gotten married. Have careers.
I didn’t keep in touch with the people in that photo as well as I should have. Facebook has told me about their relationships, their degrees, their transformations. I don’t even recognize the girl who is supposed to be me — there sure is a lot I would like to tell her. So much has happened since I walked in her shoes.
When I was a teenager, adults told me that life happens fast. Did they tell you that, too? They tell you about their friends who went too soon. They tell you about their heartbreaks and their mistakes; they tell you about what has made them the happiest.
And you don’t listen because you’re having a hard time getting through that week or day or hour. Because being young is hard. Because you’re trying to figure out how to take care of yourself, and your mind doesn’t go very far beyond trying to conceive how to do that. You don’t listen because all of those are someone else’s life. And someone else is so far away.
Now I’m 29.83 years old, and even though I’m still trying to make it through this next hour, day, and week, I’m ready to listen. I don’t think it’s too late to learn that lesson.
Our stories are all so similar, really.