I graduated high school in 1996 and our 20th year reunion is scheduled for late July. High school me… she was a force. I think two things on that old resume sum it up though: SGA President and Most Outstanding Senior Girl of my large youth group
(There was a plaque and a free camp scholarship which I declined because my parents could afford camp, and I knew others couldn’t. See? See why I won?)
I attended an art school and even though I got caught up in extracurriculars outside of my “Communication Art” of writing, Me-Then expected Me-Now to be traditionally published and deep into a successful writing career. If not, I expected that I might have veered into academia to teach literature.
That would be a big fat no. On both counts.
These days my kids get my energy and I’ve collected enough failures to be… less optimistic. Especially with writing. (Never pursued academia and no regrets there.)
I’m not a commercially successful writer. Not at all, but that doesn’t make me uncomfortable with my reunion approaching. I will buy a new dress and dance to a live band and finally have a date I like who also likes me at a high school event. Yay!
Even so, I’m working on my glib answer to the inevitable, “What do you do?” Something along the lines of, “I mom, I’m director of a local charity, and recently I’ve just stepped in as interim children’s ministry coordinator at my church. Oh and I write books no one wants to publish. I don’t recommend that last bit, or even the other bits because none of it pays, but I’m stubbornly keeping it all up.”
Like with my writing, I’ll have to edit that.
When I’m not being glib, and I think about what 18-year-old-Faydra would think of 38-year-old-me, it’s harder. Am I a disappointment to myself? I started to say—yes. But then I pulled out my high school graduation speech.
Of course High-School-Faydra spoke at graduation, (see first paragraph) and lucky for me, my mom kept a hard copy of the speech. Looking over it now—I wonder if adult me, can’t take come inspiration from what I felt then.
I wrote, “Before our art comes our individuality and our ability to love…” Wait, what? I get to be someone outside of my identity as a writer?
“Each of the artists sitting in this room is inspiring, not only through our talent but because of the love we hold for one another.” We really did have a lot of love/respect in our class. It’s been fun watching people get so excited about reconnecting now.
“School of the arts brought us together and now life is pulling us apart… It is my prayer for the class of 1996 that you will continue to grow as artists and continue to love, but I also pray that you will learn to do so more vulnerably and passionately—that you will find your personal message and share it with the world just as this school has taught us to do.”
With every new story I start to write, I think—why this story? Why does is matter if this story goes into the word? (Never mind that “the world” has been a handful of critique partners and agents who see the full and might even finish it before typing up their polite rejection. You know what I mean.) Am I being vulnerable? Am I bringing passion to a field that doesn’t care about me (yet)? Sometimes. Hopefully. But am I growing as an artist, still, after all these years? Yes. Unequivocally. So much YES.
That will have to do.
That and the new dress and the bar and the dancing with my date and the hotel room after because there are some perks that come with this whole “being grown up” thing.