This is a picture of the front of Melrose High...

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A writer friend recently noted something that, it turns out, we have in common: Split high school experiences.

At the end of my junior year in high school, we moved several states away. So the school that I think of myself of having gone to is not the school I actually graduated from.

I had gone to school from mid-Kindergarten until late-Junior-year. My whole life, up to that point, was there.

And yet, when a friend got in touch with me just before their 5 year reunion, and asked if I wanted to go (I did), somebody referred to me as having crashed it.  I’d gone to school there longer than the person who said it, but from a certain perspective she was right.

Weird things happen when you move that late in high school, and when you move while school is still in session.

First off, I’m the new kid. Everyone knows me, and I don’t know anyone. It’s… odd.

Classes were different too. I arrived in my new French class, and discovered that nobody spoke any French. I’d been in “advanced” French in my old school, having started in 7th grade. (Spanish would have been more useful, but they didn’t offer it until 8th grade, and by then I was committed to French. Probably should have tried to study both, but who knows, maybe I’d never have learned either.) In my old school, by the end of 11th grade, we spoke entirely in French in class. The reading was in French. The grammar lessons were in French. If someone was about to puke all over the floor and wanted to go to the bathroom or the nurse, they’d better know how to ask to be excused in French.

In my new school, they were reading The Little Prince in French (we had as well) and looking at pictures by French artists and everyone was very excited about an upcoming French Food Day. (Things like French art and food were part of the extracurricular French Club activities at my old school.) I realized I was not going to be getting a lot more out of the class on day one, when the teacher asked (in English) about the tense usage when using “quand” (when).  [It works along these lines: “when I GO to the store, I WILL BUY supplies” (present with future), “when I HAVE GONE to the store, I WILL HAVE BOUGHT supplies” and so on.]  I had learned this previously. At the time, I could tell you the variations, and the names of the tenses, all in French. I know that I could do that, because I raised my hand to answer the teacher’s question, and I answered in French. In my old school, I would never have been permitted to do otherwise. The teacher blinked a couple of times, affirmed my answer, and then asked me to answer in English for my classmates (who, I suddenly realized, were staring at me slack-jawed).

For all that my prior school was worlds ahead scholastically though, socially we had been behind the curve. At 16, I was still a kid. My friends were all still kids. Just before I moved away – and I mean literally just – one of my friends had suddenly realized that she liked another friend’s next door neighbor. And he liked her. I never saw how that played out… those first steps of boys transitioning from the strange creatures we had crushes on to beings that we might actually talk or even (gasp!) go out with.

In my new school, all of that was old news. My new friends had made those transitions in their earliest teen years. They had actual boyfriends. Some of them had had the same boyfriend for years. And not like me with my long-distance, see-once-a-year, safety-net boyfriend, but boys in our school, in our classes.

I was so far behind the curve it isn’t even funny. Not only did I not really learn how that works, I never even watched my friends go through it.

I probably would be flirting- and dating-impaired even if I hadn’t moved then. But it can’t have helped, I’m guessing.

The other weird thing that happens when you move just before summer of Junior year is that Senior year starts out feeling surreal. I would see people in the halls that looked familiar, and I would be so confused. Does that person look familiar because they look kind of like someone at my old school? Or are they familiar because I saw them in the halls here 3 months ago? I dunno.

In any case, for better or worse, my entire life is different because we moved when we did. If I had stayed in New England through my senior year, I probably would have gone to a university up there, instead of down here. Which means I wouldn’t have met my future ex-husband. Which means I wouldn’t have known the people who knew the people at my first job. Which means I wouldn’t know any of the people from that or any other job I’ve held. Or the people who live near me. Or the people from my church. Or basically, any of my friends (other than my sister, who – I for one am happy to report – is stuck with me).

My whole life would be different. I would be different.

And since it can’t be any different, I guess it’s all for the best.


About aka gringita
Flotsam generator. Amateur photographer. Avid traveler. Christ follower.

2 Responses to Transitions

  1. Excuse m’oi.

    No knowledge of French here, either. Impressive, huh? 🙂

    Interesting that you and I had the same experience. I was devastated to be leaving all my friends behind for my senior year. 24 years after graduating, I still feel that way.


    • aka gringita says:

      At the time, I was devastated too. I missed them all terribly and the time I had at my “new” school (with new friends) was colored by my missing of the old friends. It’s taken a really long time to realize that I honestly don’t even know what my life would look like if I had stayed there. I’m sure it would still be good… just so radically different that it’s unimaginable. And since I like the life I have, it’s hard to complain.

      Merci beaucoup for the comment. (Moi doesn’t need an apostrophe, by the way. But the informal verb form can pass, since we’re friends.)


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