Monday, May 25, 2009

High School Self Vs. College Self

“So maybe it won’t look the way you thought it would in high school, but it’s good to remember love is possible, anything is possible…”
            ~ Carrie, SATC Season 6, “Boy, Interrupted”

Going home is interesting. Very interesting. 

When you go away to college, you leave a part of you behind, your High School Self. It's the part of you that all throughout high school made stupid choices, got too emotional, was embarrassing, took things way too seriously. At least some people leave it behind. One must in order to develop a new part of who you are, your College Self. It's an upgraded version that still makes stupid choices, gets too emotional, is completely embarrassing, and takes things too seriously except now you have a little thing that's growing inside of you called maturity to rationalize and pull from the experiences. College Self eventually becomes Adult Self, which if lucky becomes Married Self, which could lead to Parent Self , or Single Self should Married Self not be an option, or any mix of the previous selves... until you reach Old Decrepit Self and finally Dead Self. 

The ultimate problem with these 'selves' is that they never die. It's impossible to make them disappear. They're everywhere... in that photo album, in your best friend from 10th grades' memories, in all the people who haven't experienced you in your new world as College Self. It's in every corner of your hometown that you went to high school in and made so many memories. And sometimes, when College Self comes face to face with the remnants of High School Self... disaster strikes, the dam breaks, and everything you left behind starts flooding back.

I've been home for a little over a week. After my Oklahoma expedition, Diane and I took a day trip driving back to the little bubble called The Woodlands. Once there, I was immediately thrust back into Woodlands life. That evening I attended my old high school theatre's production of several original ten minute plays. As one of the Woodlands Theatre alums who really pushed the play-writing portion of theatre and (call me conceited, I don't care... I'm just being honest... hehe) re-ignite within the department the spark that was play-writing... I felt a responsibility to at least make an appearance at their shows. 

The shows were cute. There was a talkback following the performance, in which audience members could ask the playwrights questions about their shows. I asked the playwrights the ultimate question, Why? Why do you playwright? As a playwright myself, I love hearing about how people were so moved by something that they had to write about it, how writing is a way for the person to express something so deep within them, because they have to write because there's nothing left to do, because when they write they create worlds, figure out problems, escape. 

At least that's what I expected to hear as a response. I got mostly things along the lines of 'It's something to do' and 'I dunno...'

I was appalled. As I leapt forth onto my soap box and got ready my tirade in defense of play-writing as an art and not simply something to do... I paused for a moment and a thought struck me. They're high schoolers. Their High School Self is all they know. They haven't been immersed in theatre like I had been. They haven't gone to college and experienced theatre as an art... how could they possibly see it that when now? You can't expect flight from a caterpillar, you can't expect college thoughts from a pure High School Self.

I couldn't help but think, what separates these two selves? What is the thing that causes the metamorphosis from the high school caterpillar to the college butterfly? Or possibly could it be that the difference isn't quite so drastic... 

This weekend was prom weekend for my sister. Stress levels were high, there was a lot going on, but more importantly... my parents had rented a lakehouse for the weekend and my friends and I were going to take full advantage of it.

New Yorkers go to the Hamptons. Woodlanders? We go to Lake Conroe... or at least now we do after Galveston was submerged by some pretty bitchy hurricanes...

Since the high schoolers weren't going to be using the lakehouse until late Saturday night, I got together a group of my closest buds and we booked it down to Lake Conroe. I mean, there was an empty lakehouse, what did you expect from a bunch of college kids itching to have a little fun? I even got Matt and Dani to come for the weekend to hang out with us. So Friday morning, Diane, me, and the rest of the gang took the drive to the lake and took a little vacation.

The day was spent with lounging, tanning, walks around the neighborhood, eating, and all those vacation-y sort of things that people do. And then we got drunk.

Now this would normally be fine. A group of friends, getting drunk in a random house... except I had the bright idea to invite my ex boyfriend, Aiden.

Aiden and I dated pretty seriously three years ago. Before that we had been best friends and eventually we took that best friendship and took it to LoverVille. I broke up with him because of his... how should I say this... lack of balls. Aiden, a year younger than me, would constantly agree with everything I had to say. I started saying things that were completely wrong and outlandish to see if he would actually say, "No, I think that's wrong" or would just keep agreeing with me... I'll let you guess what how he responded every time...

I need a man who will tell me I'm wrong, who will call me out on my shit. I don't want a baby, I want a strong, opinionated kind of guy... and Aiden wasn't that. He also told me he was falling in love with me. I was still my messy High School Self, didn't know how to handle it, and I helped him pack his bags and sent him on the one way road out of LoverVille.

Since our break up, Aiden and I had remained casual friends. We would talk every once in awhile, hang out every now and again... nothing too serious. It may have been my raging ego, but sometimes when we hung out I got the feeling Aiden still wanted to be with me... So we never got back to the best friendship that we once had. I was fine with this.

This summer, something had changed.

 Since I've been back this past week, Aiden has become a staple in my group of friends. He's been spending a lot more time with Diane and I as well as being a cast member in the Cabaret. I don't know what happened, but suddenly the awkwardness was gone, and we all could be friends and hang out together again. And I couldn't help but think about the possibility of being with Aiden again. Nothing too serious, I just started thinking about it... maybe since we had both been in more relationships and experienced more life, if we tried again it would be different.

So, newly minted into the gang, Aiden came with us for our romp around the lakehouse. And I couldn't help but make plans to hook up with him that night. I know that's terrible, manipulative, and using him (especially since I really had not intention of getting together with him... it's just a passing thought), but I wanted some action. Sue me. 

As we drank, we started kissing, flirting, and holding hands... it seemed like we were good to go and then... I shouldn't have counted my chickens before they hatched... Once we got to the bedroom, Aiden just laid there like a jellyfish. He whined about being too drunk, being insecure about his body, and just flopped there. At one point he asked if I was okay after I had scurried to the other side of the bed to pout... There I was throwing myself at this boy... and nothing.  It was probably the most upsetting thing I have ever been a part of. We didn't even cuddle. 

The next morning I couldn't help but feel completely humiliated... and angry. Very angry. I felt like I had been lead on, I felt that I had been that disgusting desperate guy who throws himself at people, I felt that once again Aiden didn't have enough balls to make a move and actually do something.... but worst of all, I felt like the stupid High School Self... the one who didn't know how to attract boys, who got used by them, who was constantly disappointed, who was desperate for attention. It was like all my previous knowledge and integrity when it came to getting with a guy flew out the window. I was trying to hook up with a boy, use him, and then think nothing bad about it... where did my maturity go? It was being home, it was hanging around with Aiden, it was thinking about all those memories from high school... 

At least the thought of ever dating Aiden was out of my head. Glad that's over with...

And I couldn't help but think... I was the caterpillar. The caterpillar who had spun his college cocoon and was about to emerge a beautiful, independent, mature butterfly. But instead, something had gone terribly wrong with the evolution and suddenly, when I emerged from my St. Louis cocoon and returned to the Woodlands world... I was still the same fuzzy, awkward caterpillar I had always been... 

Saturday was prom. My mom had yelled at me earlier for treating my sister like a 'stupid high schooler' on her big day. Big day? Was she getting married? I thought it was just prom. Anyway, I went and played paparazzi for my sister, and took pictures of her before the dance. As I snapped pictures, I kept thinking about what separated me from these high schoolers. I still made stupid choices concerning boys, got in dumb fights with my parents, and didn't quite know how to handle life. The only difference I could really pick out was that these kids thought prom was their 'big day', I was under the impression that your wedding or having your first child was your 'big day'.  Apparently, I was wrong.

The following day, instead of bumming around my house alone, I decided to join my family and the high school kids at the lakehouse. My parents were chaperoning for the weekend so I was left all alone at the house... They also kind of guilt tripped me into going. I think they wanted to make sure they were taking full advantage of all the money they had spent on renting the house by packing as many people in there as possible.

That afternoon I went out on one of the boats that were there and had a nice long conversation with a good friend of mine, Jennyfer. Jen and I have been in several shows before, she has worked with my theatre company, and is a cast member of the Cabaret. She also is a close family friend who went to Disney World with the fam two Spring Breaks ago. We hadn't talked in awhile and caught up about our love lives, school, our futures, and all those sort of things. 

As we talked about what we wanted in our lives, I made a huge realization. I realized what separated me from these kids. In high school, you are looking forward to college, you stress about application, you want your prom to be the best, the next step in your life is graduation. 

What's my next step? Graduating college, finding a job that can I can sustain myself on, getting married...

Holy crap. I've only been out of high school two years yet... Gone are the days of thinking prom was the top, that high school theatre was the shit... and now I'm realizing how important finding a significant other is, starting a family, finding a successful job... And not even a joking sense, those really are the next steps in my life.

Thinking about this made me want to go back to College world, back to St. Louis, and indulge in my College Self even more. The more I thought about it, the more I hated how I was slipping back into High School Self...

I kept wishing that instead of trying to hook up with my ex high school boyfriend that I had no interest in, I was in St. Louis with my future love interest learning more about each other and moving forward in our relationship and the next step of life. 

I wanted to crawl back into my cocoon and give the metamorphosis another try.

I talked to my mom about it. She said there's something about turning 20 that everything just changes, your priorities are different, you become an adult. It's true. 

And because of this there is a reassurance. No matter how much I retreat into some of my High School Self ways, I know that because of my views of life, I can never completely devolve into my previous state. What I want in life has changed, I've grown up. Prom will never be important to me again, I can never just write a play because its something to do, those things that mattered will never matter ever again. Yes, every once in awhile I will slip up and throw myself at a boy and make a fool of myself, but now I take that experience and learn from it and put it towards achieving my future goals. I want a career. I want a husband. I want a family. I want to immerse myself in my art. 

Maybe I was a little too hard on this evolution of selves. Maybe we can't expect to build our cocoon and emerge a beautiful butterfly, but instead expect to emerge as a person. As person who looks exactly the same as the person who went into the cocoon. They have the same faults, the same problems, they can make the same mistakes but suddenly this new self is completely different... for with every metamorphosis, with every transformation to your next state of self, you take a step closer to becoming a fully realized human. And you know what...

It may not be a butterfly, but it sure is beautiful

P.S. Apparently, Aiden tried to get with another boy the night after we played at the lakehouse and the boy he tried to shot him down hardcore just like he did to me... Woops. Karma's a bitch... I guess that vindictive High School Self part of me will never go away...



  1. You're incredibly catty. I know you think you're like Carrie Bradshaw, but she would never had been so malicious and immature about the whole "Aiden" thing.

  2. As Britny Spears once sang,

    Love me
    Hate Me
    Say what you want about me