I bawled at my sixth grade graduation. I’m not afraid to admit it. Every other kid was grinning from ear to ear, ready to move up to junior high, then high school and off into the world. But I blubbered like a baby through our entire hand-holding performance of “Friends are Friends Forever.” The fact that we held hands and sang “Friends are Friends Forever” is the part that I’m ashamed of, along with this awesome 1991 photo of me and my Life Goes On glasses.
The girl next to me is Jill Cagle. We weren’t friends. I didn’t have a perm or Gitano jeans, so we weren’t friends. The guy behind me is Mr. Hultberg, aka “Mr. H.”, the best sixth grade teacher in the history of the world. This is a fact, because our class actually gave him a trophy that named him the “Best Teacher in the History of the World,” on Teacher Appreciation Day. I organized the trophy purchase and the surprise party myself because, truth be told, I had a major crush Mr. H. For one thing, he was a really incredible story teller, he played basketball with us during recess, and whenever Johnny Wallace made fun of my glasses or clothes or pimples, Mr. H. made fun of Johnny Wallace. So yeah, now you know why I cried at my sixth grade graduation.
Years later, when Lukus and I visited a university in L.A. to pursue our master’s degrees, I walked by a faculty office door that had “Professor A. Hultberg” on a sign on the door. I had a funny feeling it might be him, nudged Lukus and told him my suspicion, and that I absolutely HAD to find out. Lukus knew there was no way it could be THE Mr. H., and the professor probably wasn’t in his office anyway. I gathered some gumption, tried very hard not to feel like that awkward 12-year-old girl with giant blue glasses on, and knocked on the door. The door flung open, and there before me stood a much shorter, much grayer, but much handsomer Mr. H. than I had remembered. Of course he didn’t recognize me (thank God!) until I told him my name. We chatted for a few moments until I realized that my experience in the sixth grade was much more special to me than it was to him; not to mention the fact that the room was about to explode from all of the tension of having the two greatest loves of my life in the same room together!
I tend to be immensely sentimental about the past, and I positively hate change. By the time I would graduate high school, I would have gone to 13 different schools, lived in 9 different cities, and said goodbye to more potential best friends than I could ever count. So when I got comfortable somewhere, leaving that place was like having a kidney removed each time.
It wasn’t any easier at my college graduation. My lonely, constantly moving self had watched too many episodes of Saved by the Bell, and I had few ambitions in life beyond having my own posse to make innocent mischief with. Home-life wasn’t exactly stable, so I constantly daydreamed of a time when my amazingly cool circle of friends would emerge as a surrogate family – kind of like a gang, except with more ice cream and less teardrop tattooing.
College fulfilled that fantasy. I had the best roommate that any after-school special director could possibly hope for: Mandy was responsible and clean, but hilarious and mischievous, and someone that I could spend all hours of the night talking with before we finally fell asleep. Oh yeah, and she didn’t mind dressing up as Sidekick Stinky to my Captain Poopy for our hall meeting. I really have no excuse for this…
I had a boyfriend who was in a band with one of my good friends who was also his roommate who was dating another one of my friends who turned out to be my long-lost sister from a previous marriage to my birth mom’s….okay just kidding about that last part. But aren’t we just too cool for this leather couch? I really miss those pants.
Nevermind getting a degree, pursuing a career, planning for my future…THIS was what I wanted out of college: road trips, skipping class to play frisbee, going to concerts, pulling pranks on my roommate, having random girls that I didn’t know cut my hair in the dorm bathroom, ordering pizza at 2 a.m. to fuel my Spanish studies, making-out with Lukus in the student newspaper offices, stealing cafeteria trays on snow days to use to sled down the back hill with the rest of the student body…who wanted a future beyond that?!
So you guessed it – come graduation, I cried again. At least I had the sense to do it in the privacy of my own apartment that I now shared with my new husband (a sloppy boy who refused to dress up as my toilet sidekick, who, instead of talking till all hours of the night, would fall asleep within 3.7 minutes of his head hitting his pillow).
With all of my fond college memories, and an already strong propensity to romanticize the past, I thought that our 10-year college reunion would be torture. It would be like having a 30 minute lay-over in Paris and not getting to really experience the place where you are. But with several of our friends attending, there was no way we were going to miss it, so last week, we went.
Turned out it was surreal, fun, and there wasn’t quite as much catching up to do as in the Olden Days before Ye Ol’ Facebook was invented. But it wasn’t torture. No, only fondness (the best fondness being that Lukus and I are still remembered as “the girl on the balcony who got proposed to by the guy playing guitar and singing an original song.” Yeah, most legendary proposal evah!!!).
I’m not sure exactly when I crossed the threshold, but at some point in the last few years, I finally stopped missing college. Stepping back onto the set of my old college show was about as fun as reruns get. We know we loved that episode, but we’ve seen it before, and really, watching it again is just killing time until the new season of Mad Men starts. It’s always nice to know that the old shows are still running and the old memories are still alive between friends, and that the people you shared a season with will always be a part of your life. But really, who wants to watch Season 40 of Saved By The Bell? Thanks to my 10-year reunion, I finally realized that I don’t. I’m ready for new sets, new plot lines, some new characters mixed in with the originals, and perhaps, most of all, I’m ready for new wardrobes – Doc Martin knock-offs with a khaki skirt? What was I thinking?!
Here’s a few of my favorite cast members…
And yeah, I’ll take the “now” over the past, even if it’s just for my sexy shoe upgrade.