As I’ve previously written here, this will be the first time our class has gotten together in any kind of organized/“official” way since we all graduated in 1992, and I’m looking forward to it.
To remind myself of what I may have in store, this week I got out the journals I kept during high school and skimmed through the ones from senior year.
Even though I read through them two years ago, I had forgotten just how lame I was back in the day. I obsessed about why people who drink alcohol are bad, stupid people — and about why I should or shouldn’t try a beer. I was a clueless flirt who missed so many signs (and sure things). I had an active (and delusional) fantasy life. And so on.
I’d like to think I’m a smarter, cooler, funnier, more confident, more stylish, more grounded, and more socially savvy (online and off) person than I used to be.
And yet, while the quality of my writing was often frightening, and I was horrified by some of the things I did and the way I acted in certain situations, I was struck by how many of the entries could have been written recently. Like the ones where I displayed a stubborn side, or hungered for change, or weighed in on the movies I’d seen.
You could also make the case that what I was doing back in the day for my school newspaper and literary magazine laid the foundation for my present career. And the private journal I kept then (which I only shared with my English teacher, Mr. Montgomery — or “Mont,” as he was known), I now share with the world on Facebook, Twitter, and this blog.
It just goes to show you that as much as we think we may have changed so much from our high school days, there’s still a core of our personality and who we are that never does — for better or for worse.
For example, there was this journal entry, written on January 6, 1992:
It’s 1992! Wow! Pretty cool, huh? Just think: five months and 20 days from right now as we speak as I write this to you, I will be an official — no joke — 2 Legit 2 Quit — 100% — all American — most excellent — non, non, non, non, non heinous — totally unbogus — non illegal — Hell, fuck it, I’ll be a high school graduate! That’s so cool.
I’m psyched and so ready to leave. I have developed a severe case of something. I’m not sure what it is, but it is part USY burnout and part plain old boredom. I’m so desperate and ready for change. I need something new and I need it really soon….
Life is just too predictable. I want to change so much but I feel really trapped and restrained. I don’t know what it’s going to take — and more than that though, I don’t know what I want exactly — but I have to change somehow. I need to be a different person. I need to get a girlfriend, and more than that I need one of those “only in the movies” relationships. I need to get out more often. I need different friends that can lead me in a different direction.
Well, here’s looking at you, ’92. Will you be a good year? Will you help me out and begin a new life for me? I hate to say it, but only time will tell.
The good news, if you’re wondering, is that 1992 was a good year. Till then, though I contributed to the school paper and was a member of some other clubs, I wasn’t really involved in my high school’s social scene. Most of my friends were from USY (the Jewish youth group), and they lived over the bridge in Rockland County.
And then, toward the end of the year, I played Roger in the senior class production of Grease. Suddenly, I felt like a part of the scene, and I didn’t want to leave town so quickly.
This entry from June 12, 1992 (a week after the show ended) provides a nice snapshot of how I was feeling:
Shit, what a fucking awesome week it has been. I don’t know how or why it took 4 years, but ever since Grease, our grade has just bonded so. (Actually, let me clarify: everyone in the show, which is the majority of the grade anyway, has bonded.) I mean we hang out, we talk so much more, we hug, we are just bonded. There’s just this great air of friendship + comraderie that is so cool and is so awesome for everyone. That is one thing that has made it an awesome week.
I’ll tell you, Mont, even I, yes, me, Marty Lieberman, is upset to know that 2 weeks from right now I will have graduated from high school + this will all be over. This week has been that great…. I’ll tell you, Mont, this has been one of the greatest weeks of my entire high school life. I can’t believe it took 4 years for thing to be this good + this enjoyable….
It’s so cool to be this happy to wake up + go to school. I mean, it’s so funny for me to be saying this because I have been so distant from my grade + the school + here I am, one of the crowd. I feel really accepted, part of the clique, whatever. It’s so strange. I am now friends with people I have been detesting since Day 1.
Re-reading that journal entry, and others from around that time, reminded me that while there was much I didn’t enjoy about high school, and much about myself personally that was not worth remembering, I did end those days on a very high note.
Next week, when many of us see each other for the first time in 20 years, I hope those old bonds are still there somehow, and I hope some of those old, bad personality traits of mine are long gone.
It will be really nice to reconnect with my classmates and hopefully restart some of those friendships all these years later.
How have you changed (or stayed the same) since high school? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.