|Everett High School Auditorium|
Recently over at Robin's Your Daily Dose blog, she's been doing some life reflecting with a Soundtrack of My Life series. I've done similar posts over the years on this blog as well as on Tossing It Out on topics related to music and how it has connected with certain parts of my life. This is a fun way to prompt memories to inspire life writing. If you're interested in doing some of your own Soundtrack posts go over Robin's blog to let her know so she can add your link to the list that she's compiling of others who are doing the same.
In one of Robin's posts she discussed bullying and the cruelty that kids burden other students with during those fragile-to-the-ego times of middle and high schools. Reading her post took me back to my school days. I never had much trouble with being harassed or bullied when I was younger. I was quiet and mostly kept to myself. My physical stature was not such that it emanated any sense of ferocity, but I apparently came across to any of the tougher guys as someone who might be one they wouldn't want to put to the test. Never once in my life have I been involved in any physical altercation that anyone could label as being "a fight".
During my high school years in Tennessee, my daily schedule consisted of being dropped off at the school by my father about a half hour prior to first class. Usually I'd go into the auditorium with its wooden floors worn from the decades of the feet of students that had preceded me. The cavernous space reeked of history and must. My chosen place to which I would retreat nearly every morning of the three years during which I attended this school was in the middle of the section on the left side of the auditorium. Fewer students sat in this area which made it more attractive to me.
Over the years a certain clique of guys like me chose this middle left area as our place to sit while waiting for school to start. We were somewhat nerdy I suppose, but mostly we were the isolated guys who didn't congregate in the smoking area outside behind the auditorium or in one of the other areas where the more popular kids were engaged in the happening social scene or the business of high school activity. The guys I associated with when I wasn't reading, studying for a test, or catching up with homework were those who seemed to chatter aimlessly about topics I now forget. Sometimes one of them might have a joke to tell but I don't remember those either. We mostly just talked to avoid the silence, but never really got to know each other very well. There were few that I could really call friends, but we were just guys who happened to be thrown together in the same place at the same time with the same sense of wanting to belong somewhere.
If I didn't have my focus on something I was reading or listening to one of the other guys ramble with idle talk, my eyes would peruse the rest of the auditorium. Throughout there were clusters of other students who like those in my part of the seating seemed to be in the same places most of the days. Some I knew from the classes I had with them though they were students I didn't really know to the extent that I ever talked to them. Others were students that I'd seen but had no idea about their names or anything about them. We were an assemblage, disparate, yet thrust together in this awkward circumstance of institutional education. The friendship potential was always there, but rarely sought.
My attentions would be variously drawn to different groups at different times depending on whatever activity was occurring that might catch my eyes. It may have been a burst of laughter or some notable noise. Perhaps the movement of bodies gravitating towards some particular spot in the room would cause me to turn and follow them to whatever group they would join. There were people that I might have liked to have known better, but my insecurities kept me from reaching out to them.
That was the auditorium in the morning. Students in their clusters of safety. Refuge from those social circles that might possibly reject anyone from the outside if they tried to become close to them. Eyes stole occasional furtive glances to the other groups with equal parts suspicion and curiosity. Who was talking about whom or even ostracizing those in the groups across the room? Perhaps no malice was ever intended or even felt by any in the other groups, however the paranoia of being a social pariah was ever in the backs of many minds.
And then there was that odd little group of girls at the right front of the auditorium. Sitting at the center of the group like the queen was Minnie. Nearby was Betty Rose, generally acknowledged to be the ugliest girl in our school. This strange assemblage of outcast females was the group that perhaps intrigued me the most...
(To be continued next Saturday May 23rd)
When you were in high school did you have a special place where students would wait before classes began? Did you have a special group with whom you would hang out most of the time? How many close friends did you have in high school?