Saturday, August 2, 2008

What was your name again?

Most of us are given names that our parents thought sounded nice for the little being growing inside of them. The names could have been handed down as a family legacy, or maybe the choice was based on a biblical persona or saint, or even just a popular name at the time. Think of all the Jennies in the 80s...

Last night, I showed up to my High School Reunion with butterflies in my stomach and a pen to rewrite my name. The name I graduated included my bio father's last name. Unfortunately, until the last part of my senior year, everyone knew me with my step-dad's name. My first name was the nickname to my actual name but was not reflected on my name badge. I knew that was going to happen, so I was prepared to make the change. What was funny was walking in knowing that these people all knew me by that name. That was a person I was so long ago. I really liked that person... full of love and potential, regardless of the stupid adults thwarting her dreams at every turn. She had a fun time and made so many good friends. She enjoyed life and learning, even though sometimes she was too busy frolicking in the waves to show up for class. She laughed out loud and hugged everyone hello. Reuniting her as an adult and with a new name was like a circle closing. By closing, I don't mean ending but finally being complete.

It felt like a ghost who had been haunting the hallways was finally set free to move on to the afterlife.

I walked away from High School as fast as I could, not because I didn't love my experience. That's not it at all. I loved being there. It was like paradise compared to being home. At school, I could be myself. Sometimes that was good, and other times embarrassing. That's just life. The reason I ran so far from there was out of shear humiliation. Although I held my head up while sticking it out, it was really hard being the pregnant girl. I left and started a new life. All along, I searched for friends that were older that had kids the same age as mine. We had that in common, but really nothing else. I missed people my age, so I started finding friends that knew the same songs and remembered the same movies. Unfortunately, none of them had kids. I was always either the youngest mom or the mature adult. Nobody else cared, but I never felt at ease. With the search for a new life came new names. First, the nickname had to go. I was no longer a child and the cutesy name wasn't jiving with my attempt at playing the responsible adult. Next, I took on the name of my first husband... then back to my legal last name... and now my second husband's name. Between husbands, I decided that my birth name was nice on a driver's license, but I really resonated with Sugar, given to me because of my need to go swimming at 2am in any available pool when I had too much to drink. Long story...

You know how when you fall on your face and look around to see if anyone saw and then thank God that the only person that saw had just tripped on the same thing? No? Well... I guess I'm just trying to come up with a metaphor... not working... Anyway, turns out that while I was running to escape what I thought was this awful stigma, many of the friends I left behind fell into similar situations. Some of them had kids the following year. So while it didn't happen in high school, it did happen. We laughed about the fact that I had always thought I was the only one that had to deal with these surprises at such an early age.

You know how when you fall down and then look around and nobody even noticed because they were too busy with their own stuff? Well, turns out that half of the people I came across last night don't even remember that I was pregnant. I was like "WHAT? How could you miss it? I was like totally pregnant! I was in labor at our graduation! You don't remember?" Blank stares. Turns out they were just typical 17 and 18 year olds who were too busy and narcissistic taking care of their own stuff. The only kids that remembered my "condition" were the ones that I had classes with.

All this time I had run away thinking I was the odd ball that had not had enough sense to either get on the pill or say no to her boyfriend. And all this time, I had friends just waiting for me to show up to the party to reconnect. I am so glad I went. And I am so glad to have reconnected. But I am eternally thankful for putting this ghost to rest...

releasing the feelings of torment that were never even necessary in the first place.

...

5 comments:

D'Arcy said...

What!!!??? No picture of your outfit! I am going back to read the post, but I was thinking we'd have a photo of you! Dang! I want to see what you were rockin'!

D'Arcy said...

Wonderful, deep, thoughtful, hilarious post. I love the way you try to create metaphors, I totally got them, by the way. They make sense. That feeling of tripping and having people witness your struggles and failures and only seeing their successes. I was so in tune with that me in High School. I was so worried about what others were thinking about me. I was so aware that the more and more I tried to please others, namely boys, through dressing and hair and makeup and starving myself and never having an opinion and not knowing my own strength. That's what high school is for, I think. I wish i could have had it all together in high school, but I never did.

I didn't go to my reunion three years ago. I just couldn't do it. Although I was attending NYU, living and working in New York, traveled the world, spoke fluent languages, and was a budding artist, I still felt inferior because my high school was 95% LDS when I went there. Most every single friend I knew was married, had children, and I knew that that is what every one was going to focus on, it just is. And I didnt' want to feel like I had to "sell" myself by listing off my accomplishments, that's just not something I do to people (um, although I just did it on your blog... :-)

I wish I had been as brave as you to do that!

You rock Sugar!!

I'm glad you can let that ghost go. It's haunting is finished.

Sugar said...

So, I think it's pretty funny that I was getting used to being called my nickname this weekend and then I pop over to Dooce's and what does she have over there?

http://www.dooce.com/daily-chuck/2008/08/01/cindy

Ann said...

That last line hit me like a ton of bricks. It never ceases to amaze me - the gorillas we all still carry on our backs due to High School, and I'm no different. It also never ceases to amaze me just how traumatic HS can be to our psyche. I'm so thrilled for you that your gorilla jumped off your back - or is maybe now just a lemur or something. :)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Ah, high school.... that magical, humiliating, fun, mortifying rite of passage we must ALL go through....

I went to my 10 year reunion but missed my 20th because we were out of town. But had a surprisingly good time at the 10th, I must say. But you know what - you totally hit the nail on the head when you said that people were all wrapped up in 'their own stuff' at the time. So very true.
And that's true in life. Stuff we get ALL wound up about ... half the time nobody even notices.

Craziness.

Great post, girlfriend!