It's crazy to think about how may movies are made about returning for your high school reunion.... and I know I spent a good deal of time thinking about what returning to my HS reunion would look like......
Needless to say: I was expecting to return after being on TV for a funny sign and a Blog and Book..... oh - and gay.
So, if I'm being honest, I was pretty worried about going back. We moved to a small town in Iowa just before my freshma year.... I was nervous. We had lived in a few major cities and I spent my summers in California at my Grandparents .... so, this small town was a bit of a shock to my system.
It was a sweet little town, with one main street and just one traffic light in town that sat at the top of the hill that was in the middle of town. I can't tell you how many times I got my Volvo stuck on the upside of that hill trying to get my clutch to balance without dying.
Most of the shops were shuttered and empty on the high street: though there were two bars.
They clearly had priorities as a town. lololol
I got a job freshman year working at the only movie rental place in town and I worked some guys who were recently graduated or were seniors that year. At first I liked working with them, because in that building: they had to be nice to me.
At school, for the most part, people were indifferent to me...... or annoyed with me. They had all (mostly) grown up together since preschool. They had learned to ride bikes together and gone sledding together every winter since they were old enough to tie their own shoes. They had grown up working in corn fields and on farms..... I had actually never seen a working farm and the only corn I had ever eaten had usually come from a can with a giant dressed in a leaf skirt glued to the front.
I was a city girl with a bold attitude.... pretty much *exactly* as I am now... but younger, thinner and possibly (very possibly) louder...... this all added up together to make my social life in HS a bit.... challenging.
I couldn't fathom how most of them had never even traveled outside of Iowa, and how little they collectively knew about the world at large.... heavy metal only existed as a musical genre for one other kid in the HS who owned a Metallica And Justice for All t-shirt and when I commented on it one day the girl standing near us in the hall was like... "So like that's a real bad or something?"
Ummmm... yeah. My astonishment at their collective lack of knowledge of the outside world in 1989 was not totaly unjustified.... however, I could have probably (or very possibly) been slightly more polite about noting it. I can own that..... own that part where I kind of was surpised that they didn't know what NWA was and who Eazy E was... or Two Live Crew... or Metallica for f*cks sake. Or, the rising issue's of gang violence and black on black male crime..... I had just recently spent summers in LA where we weren't allowed to sleep with the windows open at night becuase The Night Stalker was killing people.... and here I was moved into a town where NO ONE ever locked their front doors: seriously. NEVER.
There was, at first, a tremendous sense of safety for me that was new to me. I had always lived in big cities where doors were always locked, car windows rolled up and kids in my neighborhood where latch-key-kids. This small town was .... safe. Kids walked home at all hours, people left their windown down and their front doors open.
That feeling of safety however.... didn't last long.
At school I wasn't really fitting in.... I was making a few friends - whom I was very grateful for, but overall, I was just too much: too loud, too different, too exposed to world and society that was totally foreign to them. Also, I was exposed to a good amount of bullying at the hands of one seriously thin and pointed nose f*ck face.
Now... clearly, I was a pain the ass to some degree... but this kid was such a prick that in our Junior year a younger kid would get sick of his sh*t and kick him so hard in the nuts that it broke and he lost it. So from here on out, we're going to call the skinny pointd faced bully: One Nut.
One Nut *hated* me..... and he spent every hour of every minute that he could making that known to me in all kinds of heinous and unpleasant ways....and, sadly, as is the case in most situations - no one else would saying anything or they would laugh along with him. So I just assumed they all agreed with him and hated me, too.
And.... so... like many kids, I was bullied. On top of that - I was gay and I *knew* that if being somone who didn't fit into their small-town world was reason enough for mercilous bullying.... being a queer on top of that probably wasn't going to help me any. So I stayed quiet.... very quiet.
I loved working at the movie rental store - especially because it gave me access to the "popular" senior boys and their friends.... which at first was fun because away from school, they were pretty nice to me. So nice that after a while, they would talk all their boy talk in front of me. I never went to any of their parties or whatever, so at first I liked listening to the stories.... then after a while: I didn't.
As the year went on and Homescoming approached, their parties were in full swing and my Sunday morning shift was now echoing the stories of which underage girl they had bent over a bail of hay and took turns on.... or which drunk and underage girl they talked into this bathroom or that bedroom..... Sometimes these things were consentual.... and sometimes, I would know from seeing certain girls crying in the school halls on Monday -that ... it was not.
See.... when people say - "why didn't you just come out years ago.... or in high school?" THIS is the reason: safety. Or, at least the direct lack of it. I would listen to them talk and brag and boast and I wondered if they found out that I was gay - if they would try to show me that I wasn't by bedning *me* over said bail of hay. Either way, I didn't want to find out... that was for sure.
So I kept quiet. Well... quiet about my sexuality - and then I was generally
I had some *great* friends - and my besties (eventually) - but overall... the bullying was pretty intense. Let me put it this way, the FIRST MOMENTS of TV footage of Columbine - while reporters were saying... "WHY is this happening....!?!?!?!" I remember that I sat down on the couch (still so many years *after* my graduation) and I thought..... "I know *exactly* why these boys are doing it.... they got bullied and they got sick of it."
Sure. I *FULLY* understand how WRONG that kind of violence it.... NOR do I condone it in anyway - but I would by lying to you if I said I didn't feel like I can understand it. Because I can.
So, coming back to this small town to see the wonderful friends I *did* have..... came with a f*ck ton of anxiety and fear on my part.... that feeling of un-safe came washing over me (silly I know... but they are emotions not rational thoughts).
Of course, at *this* point... especialy after The Sign and alllll the lovely things that people have written about me online.... I've got a pretty thick skin and I coudl give a flying f*ck what One Nut has to say..... honestly. Even still... the feeling of fear was intese.
I was SUPER excited to see my HS besties and I was so grateful to still have them in my life after 20 years... that's kind of rad. However.... a room full of people who I wasn't sure even remotely liked me.... that was another story.....oh, and I heard One Nut was coming. Great.
To my surprise..... most of the people in the room knew about The Sign and many of them even read The Blog... that's kind of crazy. No one cared that I was gay and two guys even asked me for some bedroom tips for their wives - which was alcohol induced questions in a friendly manner.... so I was laughing right along with them.
I was still feeling nervous when I was standing with some of the "popular" boys from our year when One Nut walked in.... and the room got a bit quiet. The guy standing next to me said, "I bet you're not happy to see him - he was brutal to you."
I looked up and nodded.... I didn't know what else to say because this guy, when he was a boy, had laughd right along with One Nut.... so I wasn't sure how to answer that.
Then he said, "He treated everyone like that... even me."
Hmm.... perspective - it's an interesting thing..... it tuned out that *most* of the room , having been bullied by One Nut for over a decade, weren't super thrilled to see him there and while people were walking over to hug me and talk to me.... One Nut: not so much.
People weren't rude to him..... but they weren't running over to give him a high five and a hug either.
There was, however.... much hugging of me.
So, it was a *great* night.... and I got to see some amazing people.... and.... as a bonus, I was polite enough not to cause a problem and let One Nut keep his one remainging nut (several people commented on how amazing this small fact was....) - and I just left with my hugs and the knowledge that I might have gotten a little more awesomer (or twenty years of awesomeness according to my cup).... and One Nut no longer had the power to control the room because he was never awesome to start with......
It's a long time to wait... but, it was kind of worth it.