June 12, 2014

A note to my 17 year old self...

Seriously, this was only yesterday • GO LANCERS • SENIORS!
20 years ago this week, I stepped onto my high school's football field in front of friends and family, and received my high school diploma. It was bitter sweet. Lots of kids, my husband included, hated high school. The drama, the angst, the bullies, the heartbreaks. Myself? I embraced it all, good, bad and ugly. I was sad on graduation day. I recall crying through the entire ceremony. One lone tear ever few minutes escaping from my left eye only. Of course it would be the eye facing the crowd in the stands, cheering us on.  I remember the speeches, although not word for word. I remember the music, although not the actual solo that was sang. I also remember hugging the director of athletics really tight before walking up the steps to the stage. Long story short there was a lot of drama surrounding the dance (pom squad) squad. I was head captain, and my co-captains and I were forced to be coaches as well that year since our actual coach was MIA. He helped a lot and I guess my emotions got the best of me.

I can remember walking across the stage, praying I wouldn't trip in my white woven flat sandals. I remember getting the faux diploma, and my empty diploma frame case as I walked off stage and I remember walking back to my seat.  I always thought it was odd, that we got to walk down the isle with our best friend as our mate, and then we had to separate to sit on opposite sides of the field. I hated that, I wanted to sit by my best friend, not someone I barely knew. It was oriented boy girl / boy girl, so that the rows would be black and red alternating down the line. Girls wore red, boys wore black. I was thankful, I didn't want to sit in that hot summer sun, in a black gown. Girls had to wear white dresses, so they wouldn't show through the red - I was a rebel, mine had a black print on the white - I was full of school spirit (red / black / white).  Or maybe it was just because the dress was cute, and not too short - I was still a bit of a tomboy at this point in my life and hated dresses.

You know the moment when you're supposed to toss your hat? I chickened out. I didn't want to lose MY hat. I waved it up in the air. I remember that the girl one person away from me tossed her hat and then it came down and hit her in the head, and I laughed at her (or with her I guess). Mostly because I always thought she had some secret thing with my boyfriend, maybe she did who knows but that moment felt pretty good. There is a photo of this moment, and my big full belly laugh immortalized in the local newspaper. I still have the clipping, and it still makes me giggle.

Sorry for the poor quality • Me and Katie June 1994 • SENIORS!
I remember friends and family flooding the football field to hug and kiss and take photos. My mom and dad didn't take any photos down there on the field with my boyfriend, or my friends or my grandmother who traveled from PA. I always thought that was odd, but we were never a family with photos everywhere in our house.  I said good-bye to my pals, and we went home to have lunch and swim and celebrate and so I could pack for SENIOR WEEK.

I seem to recall us making a brief stop at the "SAFE AND SANE" party for my senior class but we didn't stay. And the next AM one of my best friends Amy and I headed to the beach with our boyfriends for what was really the most boring week at the beach I've ever had...

Looking at all the new graduates of 2014, I can't help but see myself. After all 20 years ago, which seems like yesterday, I was doing the same thing. Flying full speed into adult hood and thinking I'd never look back and miss it. I was wrong. I thought I'd take time to write my 17 year old self a note, 20 years after graduation, so here goes.


Dear Kelly,
Well, you did it. You've graduated high school. You've survived so much, but I'm here to tell you there is still so much ahead of you. Just want to give you a few hints, and tips to make your future much easier.

#1 - You really should dump your boyfriend. He's no good for you. So far you've only found out about 2 girls he slept with behind your back, trust me, there are more, but you won't discover all that there were possibly until your about 22, or 23. I'd tell you to get out now, but I know you won't listen. You love him. He was your first love. And as blind as you still are, I get why. I just wish you would have wised up sooner. All I can ask is that you LEARN LESSONS from this. Never trust a dude like him, ever again. (Don't worry you will, and  you will get hurt again, it's life).

#2 - Keep in better touch with Katie. The two of you will lose each other midway through your second year of community college. She's found a great new guy, and fell off the radar, but keep trying to find her, trust me you'll lose precious time. The only bonus is that if this doesn't work, a great invention called Facebook will exist and you will find her again and it will be like time never moved. You'll still love each other and be BESTIES!

#3 - Trust me, Amy is the keeper - she's a dear friend, a best friend you will never want to let go of. She tells it like it is, and that's what you need. She will be the one person you stay in very close contact with from high school and are still friends with to this day.

#4 - You and Tammy will be BFF's. Yes, you read that right. I know you think that you hate each other now because your BFF's like the same guy but TRUST ME. When you and Katie lose touch, and you're single again (side note: You and the HS boyfriend DON'T GET MARRIED, thank God that engagement didn't stick! Yeah, he cheats on you again, but this time for good and moves in with the girl RIGHT after telling you, classy right? You don't need that negativity in your life.) Where was I, oh yeah, you're single again - depressed, sad, eventually you start to move on, you start to hang with your girlfriends who are single, Tammy is one of them and her BFF as well. You have the summer of your life. Tammy and you find out you're meant to be pals, and it's epic. She ends up being your Maid of Honor in your wedding - can you believe it? Oh yeah, you get married, more on that later!

#5 - Heartbreak - you're going to have a lot of it and you will also be the heart breaker as well. Just go easy on yourself. And the other guys would you?

#6 - Speaking of heartbreak, be prepared at age 19, your parents are going to split up, this is going to directly happen at the same time you and the HS boyfriend/fiance break up. Your mom is going to be very frank with you, and tell you that "Boys are like buses, a new one comes a long every 15 minutes." You take this hard, like she doesn't care about you, but she does. She always loves you, more than herself. She just had a lot on her mind with the split from your father. Try your best NOT to let this hurt your relationship... you'll lose precious time.

#7 - You have a rough time with this break up, and this divorce, but you will realize 1 thing, your father is the coolest dude ever. You were never close because he always worked but once forced to live together without your mom, you realize how much you've missed out on.  Maybe try to foster that relationship sooner, before the fall out ok?  You are bitter with your mom, but please realize, it has nothing to do with you, only them, even though you feel abandoned. Remember you're 19, not 5!

#8 - The summer before your 21st birthday will be one of your favorites. While the divorce sucks ass, your mom has moved to NC. She's taken up a temp home right near where your beach house is. You are working every other weekend, and working 3 jobs, just to stay busy... thankfully every other weekend you have off. You will spend your weekends off between OC Maryland hanging with Tammy (who moved there to work for the summer) and then NC to visit your mom! Talk about a great tan, and tons of miles on your Eclipse.  Please note you also at this time move in with your friend Stephanie and her brother for the summer. Looking back it was fun but you should probably spend more time at home, with your father. I worry he felt abandoned even though he won't say so. Remember he's everything to you.

#9 - Remember when I said time was important. Soon you will discover after a few years of divorce that your mom's doctor has discovered she has lung cancer. All the time in the world you thought you had, is slowly going away. Don't take it for granted. She will go into remission, and it will be joyous, but soon after that, she will decline and you will lose the most important woman in your life, forever. She's still with you in spirit but those nights when you lay awake and wonder how the hell she made her famous spaghetti sauce, no one can tell you. And those days when you freak out because you're 32 and haven't had a kid yet, and that's the magical age, because that's when she had  you... she won't be there to walk you through it, you'll have to remind yourself that in due time you will have kids. She'll also be able to tell you stuff you never thought to ask.. but now she can't. CHERISH WHAT YOU HAVE WHEN YOU HAVE IT and please ask her questions before she goes.  Lastly, remember to look for the Amish Butter print Pyrex bowls when you collect items from her home, I still kick myself for missing those. Lastly, that day when you rushed to leave, when she was getting better in the hospital, please stay at least another hour. Work will wait, she won't. You lost her three days later. I wish you would stay longer and hold her, and talk.

#10 - Boys will come and go, but your girls are forever. I never realized that until I was older. I always was so close with guys, and not girls. I've come to learn that my best friends span my life. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

#11 - Remember I told you this, when you're clubbing with friends you are always the DD. Thanks for being responsible and safe, but there is one night that you're going to try to stop a drunken friend from driving - do so verbally not physically. Trust me on this, please don't end up as road kill and toted off the hospital in the ambulance with a head injury, ok? Don't worry you and that bitch aren't friends anymore.

#12 - I'm sure you're wondering about marriage again. Be patient, that's my biggest lesson to tell you.

#13 - College is a blast - enjoy it. And for the love of Pete get off your damn cell phone and enjoy time with your friends and roommates. Stop being so up your boyfriend's asses! And really, can you start noticing the signs that possessive guys are the worst! You will only live away from home for your junior semester of college, try to enjoy it with your roomies! Those girls are amazing and you didn't' get nearly enough time with them!!!! (Stop going home for the weekend so much!)

#14 - You graduate college with 2 degrees! AA: Early Childhood Development, and BS: Graphic Design/Creative Arts. I know your entire school career in HS you were sick of always being grounded for bad grades, but then you applied yourself and got great grades, KUDOS! You will keep this up through college, you will realize that it's important and then it will become a competition with friends to get great grades. Who is this nerd? It's you! Embrace it!

#15 - The internet is invented. Holy shit I feel old saying that. But it's a great tool to meet new people. You meet a boyfriend in a chatroom, and eventually move to Florida for 6 months. The hardest 6 months of your life. You've never had to fight that much with a boyfriend (possessive issues). After that 6 months I really wish you would let him go. I know you love his friends but seriously, let him go. You dated for almost 6 years, long distance by the way, insane. You are so stubborn.

#16 - At the end of the 6 months you'll be bored one night, home alone in FL - and in a Maryland chat room, you'll start talking to someone who has the same interests as you, and become fast friends. Once  you move home you both decide it's time to meet in person, because Weezer is doing a show locally and you want to go - so why not go together. You set a date to meet and hang out close to college, I mean who knows if you could end up dead in this guy's basement, right?

#17 - You set the date for lunch to be September 10, 2011. You have a great day, have lunch this guy becomes one of your best college friends and you go to lots of shows together. You're still friends. AND he teaches you how to snowboard. He's friends with your husband, but was never friends with the ex from Florida. That's telling you something. He was a bit smarter than you and saw signs way before you did, just saying.

#18 - You remember the date of when you met clearly because well, September 11, 2011 was the next day. You'll learn soon enough why that date is so tragic and significant to history, and your life.

#19 - Myspace is invented - what a cool concept, you're immediately hooked. Finding friends from all over. On random nights you'll do searches for random people, read profiles, stalk friends, and just enjoy the entire website. One night you find a photo of an attractive guy, his screen name is AC/DC, and he reminds you of Johnny Knoxville. You're immediately curious and read his ENTIRE profile and comments in one sitting. You finally work up the nerve to message him, saying he has great taste in music, and keep it light. After all you're still dating the dude from Florida... and he's moved to Maryland to live with a friend of yours, and it's not going well but still you're in a relationship and care about the guy.  AC/DC messages you back, and you start messaging daily. Friendly, nothing over the top, he has a girlfriend too, so it's ok.

After about 4-6 weeks of talking, chatting, you eventually talk on the phone. You realize quickly you're falling for this guy, and you start to feel awful. Most nights falling asleep he's the last thing you think about, and the first when you wake up in the morning. It's a wake up call about how miserable you really are in your love life.

Myspace and the internet opened you up to a lot of new friends with common interests, and after one night of heading out with some new friends from a car forum you were apart of, you have a blast, you finally meet dear pals in person like Salt of Run Salt Run and others. You have a blast, smile the whole night - and find yourself talking about Myspace guy to them all. You go home feeling on cloud 9. Your boyfriend comes by, he had been at a bachelor party for a mutual friend... the accusations of flirting with dudes at your meet up start, the fight begins, and finally the words come out of his mouth... "Do you want to break up with me?" and for the first time in your life you finally answer honestly to this question (because you've had these fights multi pal times before) and you will say... 'Yeah, I am.'  He storms out, and you realize your shoulders feel 100 lbs. lighter. You followed your gut for once, and it was relief.  Final good-byes will be said about a week later to him, at a friends BBQ - you will cry on the stoop because of guilt and hurting someone, your pal Tammy you never thought you would have as a BFF, holds you and hugs you.  She'll also be the person in a few weeks from this date, that will help you plan a road trip, to Alabama to meet Mr. AC/DC in person.  [Be warned, this ex, will pass away in a terrible motorcycle accident many years later after your break-up, and it will be awful and, extremely sad. This also tells you not to take things for granted, and to make peace before losing people you've known]. This is getting very Debbie Downer, trust me there are rainbows in the future!].

#20 - You finally find your prince - I won't give it all away, it's too fun to experience for the first time but this Mike guy, Mr. AC/DC - he's your future. You'll find him, love him, he'll love you, and you'll move to Alabama after only dating for about 6 months. To be fair you'll be dear friends for over a year before taking the "official girlfriend title" but you will love the ride, no matter how crazy it makes you. You will love fully, you will not worry about a safety net and you will find out sooner vs. later that you will be meant for each other. You will make great friends a long the way that he will introduce you to, and you will eventually walk down the isle together!!!! And all those girls I told you to trust, and ones that have come into your life, will all be there on your special day standing next to you, along with other quality friends you've made over the years.

Promise me something though... about a month or two before the big tornado storms in Alabama that rip through Tuscaloosa hit in 2011 - please don't drink too much and cause a scene in the parking lot at the bar about not being married yet to Mr. Myspace. IT"S REALLY embarrassing... and trust me everything happens in due time and when it's meant to!

#21 - Lastly... maybe check the weather before planning your honeymoon!

In closing - trust your instincts, stop ignoring your gut and realize that all the happy times and the shit you go through growing up, are all apart of life. You are stronger for going through all you have, and I wouldn't change that - just promise me you'll take time to appreciate all you have in front of you when it's right in front of you!!!  And lastly, don't doubt yourself, you rock!!! And thank you for realizing that life isn't just about finding a man to settle down with, or having babies, they are great achievements but you've got so much more to accomplish before that!!!

Congratulations for graduating high school!!! Enjoy the ride, it's all up hill from here, but it's one hell of a journey!!!

P.S. Hydrate more before going out for the night, you'll thank me in the morning!

P.S.S. I'm very happy you stopped perming your hair - maybe get a time machine so you can NEVER do it to your hair, EVER!!!! Also, don't let anyone highlight your hair - it never turns out right.
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Samantha @ 24 to 30 said...

I loved this post! It's funny how things work out...and how fast time flies.

Christina said...

Aww, this is such an awesome post!! I love your advice (and story)!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I graduated in 1994 too. Happy 20th!!

Anyway, I think this is a great letter. It's too bad the us from back then didn't get a chance to read things like this, eh? Things would have turned out so much differently. At least they would have for me.

Liz @ Fitness Blondie said...

My sister graduated in 94 as well - oh the hair and fashion back then ;-) damn if we only knew then what we know now. I did not know you had two degrees- you go on with your bad self girl!!! Back in the day MySpace opened up the door for me to have a lot of friends too. I miss those days, so fun customizing your profile. Ha. Imagine how fun it will be looking back at this blog post in 20 more years. Print it out and save it :)

Devon said...

I think I'd like to hear more about this boring week at the beach. Also, it's really cool you took the time to write this note. I hope some 17 year olds from today stumble upon it. I can't believe how fast time goes by either, but I definitely don't miss high school, :)

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