Regret may be one of my least favorite words. I try, as much as possible, to just not let it exist in my life. I do have a few of them, however. Most of them are private. Scratch that, all of them are private. Even with the intense emotions and uncomfortable feelings it will bring up, I’m going to share one.
For the most part, I do not have friendships left over from my school days. I am going to try desperately hard not to offend anyone that has known me for a long period of time. I hope you will all bear with me on this, because, well, it is all very true, and not the easiest thing to put into words.
When I was five, I moved to a new town. I had a few baby friendships when I left, but they were shallow as most preschool ones go. Between my sister and I, I was the lucky one. I started kindergarten in a new school, not fourth grade. My relationships were really forming at about the same pace as the other kids. Let me tell you, I went to school with some great people. Maybe it is because I grew up in a small place, but I can still recall a good chunk of my classmates from memory. There were a lot of very unique, very talented, and very interesting people among them. Saying this, I was not really one of them. I was, well, awkward. I suppose I’ve always been a bit so. My taste in clothes, hobbies, and music. My short legs, stick straight hair, quirky personality, and odd sensibilities. There has rarely been a place that I feel I fit in perfectly, but through the years I can think of a few such times. Second grade where my teacher made me feel like I was smart, clever, and likable enough to conquer the world. Was it fourth grade? Maybe fifth grade… I met a group of girls that I fit with. They were nice and did not seem to mind my quirks. We did most things together. Now, I may be fooling myself, but I felt like we were true friends. You know, the kind that you purposely do not lose touch with no matter where life takes you. We went to church together, played softball together, and spent recess together. My oddness persisted through this time, and it might have been my downfall, it also may have been my forced exile into homeschooling my first year of junior high, regardless, in one rather painful and life changing instant, they were gone.
Around the time I began homeschooling, my closest, non-school, church friends all moved. Twin boys I was used to spending most of my time with. A family of four awesome guys that always made me feel like I was a little less strange than I actually was. Suddenly, I was rather alone. I had a few friends in a homeschooling group I was part of, but we saw each other one or two times a week tops. Looking back, I just do not remember much friendship and connection between seventh and eleventh grade. Until I got my driver’s license I spent most of my time begging rides to go places and do things or alone in my room; after I got it, I spent most of my time driving to work or the ski hill. When I wasn’t working, skiing or snowboarding, I was snowmobiling or eating Subway sandwiches alone by the lake when the normal kids were in school complaining about classes and tests and teachers and the forced socialization that I really wanted quite desperately. If there is one word that describes my adolescence it would be lonely. If I were to pick two, I’d add desperate to the first.
My senior year of high school I convinced my parents to let me hightail it out of Dodge to a town two hours away where I actually had a few close buddies that I saw on regular intervals that were a bit on the far between side. I went to the store, bought school supplies for the first time in what felt like eons, donned a backpack, and walked into a real school as one of the normal kids. Well, as normal as I can be. That is the point when most (and notice I say most, it is true that I do still have a couple of friends that I have maintained through the years, but I truly do only have a few) of my connections formed. It turns out that some people are okay with odd and quirky. They accept the bizarre and welcome the introverted and slightly neurotic. Although I treasure my precious friends from my later years, when I see old classmates reminisce online, I yearn for that same experience. For the ability to jump in with witty anecdotes from bygone days and mingle with the crowd talking about what used to be without feeling like an outsider looking in.
Maybe this entire post is based on a false pretense. Perhaps it is less regret I feel and more just remaining scars and a feelings of loss. Either way, my lack of childhood memories and people to remember the good old days with, are something I truly regret not having. Most likely it will fade with perspective and wrinkles, but, for now, it is real and something that I deal with on a fairly regular basis. It could be that the true regret in the situation comes from not standing up and demanding more from myself and my surroundings. However, no matter the feelings, misplaced, misappropriated, or misaligned as they may be, they are real and quite unsettling.