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Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Upcoming Reunion

I attended an alternative school during my junior high school years (7th to 9th). The school was a cutting edge experiment in 1973 when it first opened and I was one of the first set of students to attend the school. It had classes for kids from kindergarten to 12th grade. It was based on a humanistic model, where homeroom was called "family" and every week there were group sessions to discuss just about anything. Instead of P.E. we went hiking. The openness and experimental nature of the school fostered creativity in its students.

This year, the school is having its first reunion.

When I first heard about the reunion, I was excited. I had some dear, dear friends back then who I have lost touch with and am interested in knowing more about. What are they like as adults? Are they married? What kind of work do they do? Are they still the type of people I would like to be friends with?

Then I started thinking about my life when I was in junior high. Ages 12 - 14 are not really the best year's in anybody's life, and certainly not mine. I get queasy when I think about the things I did when I was that age -- things that would make me die if my children did them! I put myself in situations where I compromised my integrity, experimented dangerously and acted in ways that were just plain stupid. Now I'm not so sure I want to see the people I did these things with -- first drug experiences, first sexual experiences. The social mechanics of the young teenager are not pretty and certainly were not pretty in the permissive atmosphere of the early 1970's. Some of my most benign memories of that time:

  • Listening to David Bowie's "Space Oddity" with Rachel
  • Dumping a dead snake in a back alley in Hollywood with Jenny Belleu after she stole her mother's car (we were 14 years old and found the snake during one of our school hiking trips)
  • Going to Disneyland with Marina, Kevin, Michael, Dimitri and Gary
  • Being Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz"
  • Getting mugged in the neighborhood park with Danny and some other kids
  • Seeing a giant potato bug in the "Garden"
  • The smell of school lunch
  • Going to the radio studio to catch a glimpse of Dr. Demento
  • Hanging out at the La Brea Tar Pits when the park was filled with street performers, hippies and LA County Museum entrance was free
  • Window shopping at Sadie
But the painful memories reside like a stone in my heart. Some of it is the normal angst of adolescence that comes with the negotiation of relationships. But I also did things that made me feel anxious and guilty because I knew then that what I was doing was wrong. My parents were permissive. They trusted me because I was smart and nice. But I did things I did not want them to know about, especially things around my sexual discovery. I put myself in situations that were not conducive to developing healthy self-esteem in a young lady. I still feel very sad when I think about it.

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