What a week! Charly was still feeling sick and teething, so we are still running on sleep fumes. She has seemed much happier yesterday and today, though the evil tooth 6 has still not fully cut!
I’ve gotten ahead of my client writing and I’m feeling confident that by the first week in December, all the writing will be done. I’m making progress on the book editing front too, but am looking forward to having more time to focus on it in the upcoming week. But none of that is what I want to talk about today.
On Saturday I had an utterly surreal morning. It was my 15 year high school reunion at Wynberg Girls High School. I don’t often feel “old”, but saying that out loud, “15 years”, certainly does the trick. It wasn’t a huge event, there were probably about 15 of us, one gorgeous 3 and a half month old baby boy, our principal and the school’s business manager – has that always been a thing??
We did the usual “what are you doing now”, “where do you live”, “do you remember when” conversations sitting in the cafeteria (a new addition since our graduation) and eating delicious foods (thanks Tamara!)
Mrs Harding, who became principal in our Matric year, then caught us up on the (huge) changes in the school system since we left – divisions of students into houses of multiple grades as opposed to home rooms; student councils made up of students who have been through the job application process, submitting CVs, giving motivational speeches and being interviewed for the positions; extensions of Colours into Service and Culture, alongside the standard Academics and Sport; most classes have SMARTboards; and they have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, meaning students have free wifi and are allowed and encouraged to bring and use their own smart devices, including phones and tablets, during the course of their day for access to information. I was momentarily jealous of the amazing opportunities these kids have; while the old school nerd part of me pictured endless Whatsapping and Facebooking when they were meant to be learning. If you consider it though, these kids are going to have to learn to integrate smart technology into their lives in a responsible way at some point, so what better place to learn that than at school?
And then we went on a tour of the school… While there have certainly been some impressive upgrades and additions, the bones of this beautiful school have remained very much the same.
Walking into the library, where I spent almost every break time, and being hit by the same smells and waves of nostalgia and unexpected longing for the past. When we walked into the school hall foyer, I was hit by the most surreal realisation that I had had hundreds of dreams over the years set in that very spot without connecting where it was. Walking the corridors, I could hear the echoes of our childhood footsteps and hear our voices having conversations in the past. I could see the awkward, self-conscious teenage me, sitting outside the library door on the returns box (the one thing that is still exactly the same, broken as it was the last day we were there), filled with self doubt and fear and flooded with the desire to be different and more. Waves of the triumphs and heartaches and wins and losses crashed over me intensely, as only an angst-filled teenage girl can experience them, as the “sameness” of everything settled around me. I wished I was alone, and that I could wander around those corridors for hours, chasing shadows and eavesdropping on what once was.
As most of you who have read my earlier posts know, school was a difficult place for me. I was bullied and my self esteem took knocks I still haven’t recovered from. But I loved school; I loved the buildings and the learning and the teachers and even the exams. The organisation and structure fed the control freak in me; I was good at being a student. I think I realised yesterday, that until I started writing for a living, I had been searching my whole life for something I could do as well as I did school. And that my need for validation and feedback and routine was born in the walls of my schooling.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad I left Charly with Brett and my mom. For 2 and a half hours I stepped back into my past, I got to dwell a little and feel some things and deal with some things that I likely wouldn’t have if she had been with me.
I left high school a little bit battered by bullies, a little unsure of who I was and I returned yesterday as, what I consider, a success. There is a sense of pride in returning happily married, a very proud mommy, having my own home, having had a successful career in one line of work and then having moved sideways into my own successful business, and having this blog and all of you. I left feeling “less than” and returned more than I could ever have dreamed.