This month, Genie's Living Out Loud question has a back to school theme. Specifically, she asks:
Tell us about your high school self. In the Breakfast Club version of your school were you the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess or the criminal? Are there people you would love to find from high school? Others you'd love to forget? How do you compare to what you were then? Would your English teacher recognize you? Would he or she be proud of you?
I was a lot of things in high school. A lot of them conflicted. That's still true, but not nearly so much as it was then. I wasn't sure who I was yet, then, and I was trying things on.
Photograph evidence might help, right?
This picture was taken the summer before my freshman year in high school, so I'm 14. I wasn't a very good softball player. I believe I played second base, maybe? I know I was a much better hitter than fielder. And I only played for a couple of years. My real sport, to the extent I had one, was volleyball, which I played the whole way through. This picture, however, remains my favorite one ever of Jock Grace. I think it's the braids.
In the tiny town in which I grew up, you weren't a shit if you didn't play sports. Seriously. And being my height predicated years of "you're gonna be a great basketball player!" Which I am so, so not, and never was going to be. Volleyball (and a couple of years of softball and throwing javelin and shot) was my compromise position. I didn't love it. I didn't even like it much. But it was part of who I was supposed to be, so I gave it a shot.
This me is one I recognize a little bit better, though I know she's a poseur, too. Dead t-shirt? Really? I have never, ever, listened to the Grateful Dead. The picture was taken at right around the same time as the jock picture, but it's of a different girl. Unlike the jock, though, Grace the Hippy was a girl I wanted to be. I never really was, but I wanted to be.
And here, a year or so later, we see Grunge Grace. I loved Grunge Grace. Grunge Grace tried really, really hard to like Alice In Chains. She dyed her hair with henna because her mom wouldn't let her use real dye. She watched Singles about sixteen times. She stayed home from school in tears when Kurt Cobain died. And that thrift store flannel she's wearing? She embroidered "Blind Melon" on the back. Hell yeah.
Theater Grace might be my favorite Grace. In this picture, she's playing Elizabeth Procter in the The Crucible. Theater Grace loved plays. Theater Grace had a great time in plays, and wished so hard that she lived somewhere where she could be in more than one a year, and where rehearsals didn't have to be at 6:30 in the morning as not to conflict with sports practices. Adult Grace wishes she had a little bit of Theater Grace's nerve back.
It's probably not obvious at a glance what this picture shows, but when I look at it, I see a figure that is called, in my mind, The Grace Next Door (TGND). TGND tried really, really hard to be normal, to like normal things, to be excited about Homecoming and high school boys and whatever the hell else she was supposed to be excited about. She succeeded, sometimes, in convincing everyone around her and even herself. I knew her pretty well, and even I can't tell you, based on this picture, if that smile is real or faked. What I can say is that The Grace Next Door died a quick and painless death my first year in college, and I never missed her.
Braininess isn't the easiest attribute to photograph, so I decided this picture from my high school graduation will have to suffice to illustrate Grace the Brain. This wasn't so much the end of her braininess as the beginning, in real terms, but it was the last time I remember having a reputation for being smart. Three months after this picture, I was a Reed, a mediocre intelligence in a genius pond. And I was absolutely the better for it, but it was quite the shock.
This picture was actually taken a few months after my HS graduation--right before I left for college. I'm including it, though, because it's Grace in Transition. I'm beginning to have a clue, here, that I am going to go somewhere and start completely over, with no from-childhood reputation, no passel of family to proceed and follow me, no preconceptions. When I look at this picture, I see a blank slate. And, for the first time in any of these pictures, I see a little bit--just the slightest hint--of who I became.