Saturday, December 26, 2009
Christmas time is when we send and receive photo cards with our 'old' classmates. Since E and I grew up worlds apart, I am always asking him "was this your college roomate?" or "did you two go to high school together?". He asks the same of my friends' cards and photos. "Who is this? I can't keep them all straight!"
Almost all these friends with whom I still communicate are college chums. Only one is from high school days. She was my best friend in high school even though we were practically opposites. She was the oldest of a huge family, I was the younger of two children. She lived across from the high school and participated in everything; we lived on the outskirts of town and I rarely attended extracurricular activities. Her dad was very active in her church's Knights of Columbus. My dad worked mostly out of town. Her dad was always heading up some fund raiser. My dad was only home a few months my senior year, and when he was home, he worked. She worked at the Ben Franklin store after school. I worked at the county library. She had a date in high school. I never did. She was very outgoing, I was very very shy. I thought we were a lot alike.
So when we got our Senior yearbooks and passed them around for friends to sign, she was the only person to sign mine. I stood in line to sign hers.
I didn't mind that only ONE person signed my yearbook - it was photos that I liked. Besides, everyone always writes the little lies about how much they enjoyed you in their class, how they wish you luck, and how you should keep in touch forever.
She wrote a whole page in my yearbook. She wrote that I was an ice maiden and stuck up, the weirdest person in our class. She wrote that I didn't fit in at high school and that she wished me luck fitting in at college. She wrote that I was misfit and suggested I move back to California where I'd be accepted. She thought we were incredibly different.
I read this in awe. I put the yearbook away and didn't even look at the photos. But every once in awhile I'd pull it off the shelf and re-read her writing. Finally, one day, I tore that page out and threw it away. I had enough of it.
I wasn't any of the things she wrote. I was shy. I wasn't stuck up, I was scared to death. I wasn't weird, I just didn't know who to ask about fitting in. I wasn't the person she wrote about, I was an insecure child who built her world around making good grades and reading everything I could get my hands on. I wasn't staying away from activities - I lacked a way/ride to the events. I wasn't an ice maiden, I was a warm human being with volumes of diaries, with hopes and dreams. I was a teenager, trying.
I got over her rant in time. I never told anyone about it. When E asked me who the photo card was of a lady with three kids, I told him. "My best friend from high school."
I think it was just a case of mistaken identity. She didn't know me. And she still doesn't. But I get a delightful photo of her each year and a letter listing the achievements of her husband and her kids. I send her photos of our dogs. She probably mistakes one of them for me.
Mistaken identity continues throughout all our lives. People think we are who we aren't. Or don't give us credit for the person we are.
Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken. - Jane Austen