Random Blog A Musing Farf

Sunday, December 21, 2008

HIGH SCHOOL AT THIRTY-THREE

In 1989 I started a new school. I was a freshman in high school and, while I could have enrolled in the local high school in the town in which I grew up, I ask made the decision to leave my friends behind and enroll in the Loomis Chaffee School.

I still remember the night before the first day of school very clearly. I could not sleep - the mix of nerves and excitement kept me awake – and I spent an inordinate amount of time deciding what my first day of school outfit should look like. Blue jeans were not allowed and I had no idea what the current fashion for a high schooler was (having never been one before). I remember thinking that the next 4 years would be defined by the outfit I chose. And, I still remember what I wore: a light blue skirt given to my by my cousin in exchange for writing one of his papers and a collared t-shirt. I am probably the only person who remembers that outfit.

When I arrived at school, I expected that everyone would be strangers to each other and was dismayed to discover that was not true. Instead, I found the cliques had formed and that people knew each other prior to the start of school. I met a girl named Cari (who 19 years later is still one of my best friends) and together, we navigated the perils of high school. At first, we formed a clique made up of people who had nothing in common other than the fact that they were not part of an already formed clique, but as people got to know each other, friendships faded, blossomed and changed.

By graduation, it was easy to forget who knew each other before school had started and who met in school. Instead of clinging to each other as we had in the early days, friendships were now based on common interests such as theater, sports, and mooning over cute boys. We had grown up together - learning how to deal with new and raw emotions and getting ready for life’s next steps. And, my senior year, I remember watching the freshman start school and go through what seemed like such as unique experience to me as a freshman.

Almost exactly 19 years after that first day of high school, I attended my first New Moms group. Meeting for 2 hours on Mondays, it was a support group for new moms in NYC and mostly a way to get out and meet other moms and spend some time talking to adults, as opposed to an infant. I have no idea what I wore to that meeting, but I spent an inordinate amount of time deciding how to dress my daughter. I remember thinking that my skills as a mother would be defined by the outfit I chose. Finally, after trying on several different onesies, I settled on one given to us by Cari. It was green with purple trim. I am probably the only person who remembers that outfit.

Just like in high school, when I arrived at the group, I expected that everyone would be strangers to each other and was dismayed to discover that was not true. Friends who had babies near in time to each other were attending and many in the group had been coming for several months and had become friends.

When I left the group, I called Cari to tell her how I had gone to the group, but had not met anyone with whom I felt a connection. She reminded me that, as the mother of an infant, just showering and getting out of the house was a triumph and that, more importantly, we had not met on the first day of school, but rather sometime in the second week. I had survived the first week alone.

So, I went back to the Moms’ group and also reached out to folks from my childbirth class. First there was Katy and then Sarah, and Caroline and Maria and Angela and others. At first I found people with whom I had nothing in common other than the fact that we were all first time moms with babies of a similar age. Six months later, friendships have faded, grown and changed and now, when we get together, the babies are not the only topic of conversation.

And, not so different from adolescence, the other new moms I have met have helped me make sense of the new and strange emotions I am experiencing. (It is nice to be reassured that I am not the only one who can no longer watch television shows involving sick and dying children without checking on the baby 40 times an hour). We bonded over husbands who don’t seem to hear the baby crying at 4am, laughed together when one of the baby boys projectile peed all over a strange woman at Lohemans and mourned together when we lost a member of our little clique.

Lat Monday, I went back to the Moms’ group. I had been going less often as Mondays have gotten busy and now that I have a great circle of friends, I don’t need the excuse to get out of the apartment or a pre-made group of adults for conversation. When I arrived, there were two women who mentioned they were attending for the first time. When I looked, I noticed how their babies outfits seemed meticulously planned and how they glanced from person to person, nervously looking for an excuse to talk to someone. And a way to break into what seemed like pre-established cliques.

Thinking back to how I felt that first day of high school, the first day at the Moms’ Group and thinking that not everyone is lucky enough to have a Cari in their lives to put everything in perspective, I simply walked up to them and asked how old their babies were. We spoke (mostly about the babies) for 30 miniutes and by the time I left the conversation, these women were exchanging emails addresses and phone numbers. I have no idea if they will remain friends, but it is nice to be the senior watching the freshman again.

2 comments:

Suzanne said...

The sentiments in this post are so lovely. And hilarious. No bologna here!

wingin' it said...

that was beautifully expressed. very well written.