Last night we went to a high school production of Fiddler on the Roof. We know the girl who played Hodel, and like the rest of the kids she did a great job. No surprise there.
What I didn’t expect is how I felt going back into a high school. First of all, I felt old. No surprise there either, since I’m now twice the age of your average high school senior, but it was still a bit of a shock initially. Girls in the bathroom, wearing their low rise jeans and midriff-baring shirts, giggling and primping in front of the mirror. Was I ever that young?
After I became more comfortable in my dinosaur skin, I started to feel something else. Even now, I’m struggling a bit to put my finger on what it was. Could it be that I actually miss high school? Not school itself, of course, or the stupid cruel things that teenagers can sometimes do to each other. But the football games and pizza afterward, cheerleading practice, hanging out with friends; really the feeling of being completely at home and comfortable in that building and in that environment.
[Pauses to remove rose-colored glasses.] There were plenty of bad times. Feeling lonely or left out, arguments with my mom over what I thought were arbitrary rules. But even then, I knew I’d never have another experience like that. I knew that soon enough, my friends and I would all be going our separate ways and our lives would become a lot more complicated.
I think a lot of it boils down to a sense of belonging. And sometimes I still feel that in my current life—walking into church on a Sunday, being greeted by so many people who know me. Or when our whole family is gathered for a meal or just to hang out. Everyone’s there, and for a while the world just feels right.
But those moments are fleeting now. Family get-togethers are rare, and it’s rarer still that every single one of us can be there. And while I certainly belong and feel comfortable with my church family, there aren’t too many people there who truly know me the way my friends did years ago.
I know that most people wouldn’t want to relive their high school years for all the money in the world. But I would seriously consider it, at least on a temporary basis. After about a week, I’m sure I’d realize that I belong exactly where I am right now.