For some reason I was thinking of an event from my senior year in high school. I posted over a year ago about events leading up to this particular moment here. (And apparently I did not proofread that post before publishing it.) I realized just today that one little snap decision pretty much set the stage of who I was going to be in the future. It's interesting to think that just 5 months in Texas changed me so much. Oh and also I had the day wrong. I graduated on a Tuesday, not a Monday. Tuesday, June 5th in fact. I know this because I looked at my diploma. I wonder why I didn't do that before?
So I graduated on Tuesday, passed out at (before) the party, packed in a huge hurry on Wednesday morning and caught a plane back to North Carolina. It was going to be a tight race for my friends to greet me at the airport. I don't remember the exact times now but everyone's last exam was to start about 2 1/2 hours before my plane landed. I was pretty nervous about seeing everyone. I had changed A LOT. I had somehow turned into a girl that got whistled at and flirted with on a constant basis. And I had a new sense of self. On top of seeing all of my guy friends and my high school boyfriend (known hereafter as HSB) I was going to meet my Dad's live-in girlfriend. I don't remember if I had a beer on the plane (everything was 18 back then) but I imagine I did. I was very excited AND nervous. The pilot was happy to announce that we had had strong tailwinds and were going to arrive 15 minutes early. I knew that wasn't good. Sure enough, there was no one to greet me when I stepped off the plane. I was carrying a very large teddy bear and a tennis racket and made my way to the luggage carousel.
I pulled my trunk and suitcase off the carousel and tried to figure out what to do. I couldn't carry all my things. Finally I decided to leave all my stuff and walk around looking for somebody, anybody that I knew. The first person I saw was Gary. It's one of my very favorite life memories. Gary was a really hot guy. He was just flummoxed when he saw me. He stopped dead in his tracks and said, "Geewits!! Is that you!?! Oh my God, you look great!" Wow. Probably the best airport greeting I will ever get. I told him where my stuff was and he ran to tell everyone where I was. After that it was chaos. I don't remember how many people came. There were either two or three cars full of people. Then an argument broke out about which car I would ride in until my Dad settled that. I was going to ride in HIS car. Then there was argument about who would ride with me. It was all funny and crazy and GREAT for my ego. I know my HSB and some other person rode in the backseat with me. My poor future step-mom was in the passenger seat and trying to figure out what the big deal was.
When we got back to my Dad's aprtment there were even MORE people waiting. It was a giant welcome home party. Here's how hectic it was: I remember searching for some time to try to show someone my high school diploma and finally giving up. I had already shown it to some people but could not find it. I remember later someone saying, "So what do you think about the baby grand piano in here?" I said, "There's a piano in here?" AND IT WAS A VERY SMALL APARTMENT. Well sure enough, there was a baby grand piano and my diploma was sitting on the music stand. That Wednesday was a blur of partying and catching up.
On Thursday I went with my HSB to the graduation rehearsal. I joined my homeroom peeps to say hi and catch up - our homerooms were kids grouped in alphabetical order for purposes of counting attendance. My old homeroom teacher didn't even realize I'd been gone. She told me to move back 8 spaces to be alphabetically correct. That cracked me up. I just stepped out of line and let them finish their stuff. The next day, Friday, was graduation. It was weird watching from the stands. At one point I got paranoid and thought, "What if someone doesn't know me that well, but recognizes me in the stands and thinks I couldn't graduate?" Yeah that was silly. Now for the weirdest part. My Dad had the graduation party at our apartment complex pool!! How weird is that? There was a band and about 4 kegs. That was the last party at that apartment complex pool. It was one GIANT party. At one point me and the HSB got in a huge fight about something. I hated that. In my wonderful 5 months in Texas I never argued with anyone.
Well anyway, now I had to pack again for Myrtle Beach. I talked previously about the end-of-the-school-year Myrtle Beach ritual here. My HSB was the only person in my high school gang that didn't have a car. His mother made an ultimatum: If he wanted to drive the car to Myrtle Beach he had to take the long way and visit his grandmother in Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte is NOT between Durham, N.C. and Myrtle Beach, S.C. So HSB's great plan was to leave Durham in the middle of the night after partying all day, drive until he couldn't take it anymore, find a cheap motel, sleep, and then drive to Grandma's house. So that's what we did. I will admit I have absolutely no memory whatsoever of the Grandma visit, but I know we did it. Then we hit the road for Myrtle Beach.
When you rented a cottage at Myrtle Beach, the term was Sunday to Sunday. So we were going to be there late Saturday afternoon with no place to stay, but HSB had information that a certain wealthy BMOC had a giant suite in the main hotel and was going to let anyone crash there Saturday night. I wasn't crazy about the idea. Well, we got to Myrtle Beach, found a parking spot and made our way to the hotel. We left all of our stuff in the car. Sure enough, we quickly found the suite. It was full of people. Lots of bong-passing ensued and there were lots of ice chests full of beer. I finally reached my limit and told HSB I had to take a nap. I stretched out on a bed and BOOM. I was out.
I woke up to a very quiet room. I looked around and there were about 6 or 7 people I didn't really know sleeping like babies. I grabbed a beer and stepped out onto the stairwell/balconey. The sun was low and there was a beautiful golden hue over everything. I was sipping my beer and looking out at the ocean. I felt very relaxed and peaceful. A guy named Peter I have known since junior high came up the stairs. He said "Hey! I heard there's a party up here." I said, "Nope. Everyone in there is asleep. I just woke up. I don't know where the party went." I could tell he was disappointed. We slipped in and got two more beers. We leaned on the railing outside looking at the ocean making idle chatter. Finally Peter said, "We've got a pretty cool house on the beach but it's a little ways down." I could tell he didn't think I would go. Yeah that was the OLD me. I said, "Really? Let's go!"
I had so much fun that night. All kinds of people kept showing up. We sat around the long kitchen table all night talking, drinking and playing poker. It wasn't my regular high school group but lots and lots of people I knew a little bit. I remember some people coming in and acting really freaked out that I was there. "Where's HSB?" they demanded. I just said, "I don't know. I woke up in BMOC's suite and he was gone." I was totally in the "you move you lose" mode. I realized then that I was just going to have fun and not sit around and wait for someone. I woke up the next morning in a room with two double beds. I was in one and a guy I'd known since 7th or 8th grade was in the other bed. I sat up and looked around trying to get my bearings. I guess Tom woke up about the same time. I said, "Oh my God, Tom B.! How are you doing? I didn't expect to see you!" It was a pleasant surprise. Peter heard us and came in. I asked if he had some shorts and a T-shirt I could borrow. I went into the bathroom, put on fresh clothes and they made me lunch. Peter was a great host.
A little later Peter drove me down to our cottage. HSB was not there, but all hell broke loose when I walked in. Apparently when HSB left me asleep in a room full of guys, he went out partying and then went swimming. He sliced his big toe open in the ocean and spent 3 or 4 hours in an emergency room. It was all "Where were YOU?" And you know what? I had no apologies. I woke up alone and went out to make my own fun. And I did.
And that's still who I am today.