Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Best Time of My Life and How I Recovered From It

“We can't be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.”

C. JoyBell C.

 It surprises me that in over 600 blogs, many of which are personal, it never occurred to me to write about one of the happiest times of my life.  Perhaps it did occur to me, but I found the topic too personal.  Perhaps I felt it wouldn’t be relevant to anyone but me.  Still, I have a goal to write five blogs today and this is what came to me.  So, embarrassment aside, I will share this story and hope it has relevance to other people’s stories.
The 10th grade was the best time of my life…and I almost never recovered from it.  I will explain both parts of that sentence in order.  First, the 10th grade was the best time of my life for a variety of reasons:
·      I had a lot of close friends.
·      I had a lot of independence.
·      I had few responsibilities. 
·      I had a lot of time to myself.
·      I had money when I needed it.
·      I got good grades.
·      People respected me (or most people did).

It was one of those times that I call the perfect confluence of events.  Sometimes all the right events and people show up at the same time and it’s wonderful.  It doesn’t last forever and that makes it even more special.  I’ve had similar situations since then, but nothing quite like this time.
It wasn’t perfect.  I was needy and sometimes lonely.  I got good grades, but part of that was through charm and because I was not taking very challenging classes.   At the time, the district policy was to not give homework (I didn’t realize until years later when a former teacher from that era told me).   I could also be lazy which was why not everyone respected me.
Still, overall, it was a golden time.  I lived in Marina, California, near Monterey.  I attended Seaside High School.   I was on the school newspaper, I had a leading part in the school play, and I had a lot of friends.  My teachers liked me.  I had older people who were like surrogate parents.  I even got to live on my own (with another family) for part of this year.  
I also began to understand, only very vaguely, that having a Purpose and having goals made life richer and better.  I had discovered this when saving the money to go to my first comic-convention the summer before.  I also learned how extra-curricular activities, in my case the newspaper and the school play, enriched life.  Finally, I began writing consistently for the first time, not only for the school newspaper, but also for Carol Wilson’s Science Fiction class.  It was a time that I was beginning to discover who I was.
It was also an innocent time.  My friends and I would have parties once or twice a month at each other’s houses.  By parties, I mean soda (no alcohol), snacks (no drugs) and dancing (no sex).  It was like an Archie comic book.  Everything was good clean fun.  It was, at that time, the happiest time of my life.
When it was over, it was over.  I had to leave the area and rejoin my family in San Diego, because my mom needed me to watch my brothers.  I was devastated.  I had been experiencing so much fun, love, and personal success that it didn’t occur to me that it would ever end.  I knew it would; but I never really thought about the future.  The present was too perfect.  So a week and three days after 10th grade ended I was with my mom again, taking the long drive to San Diego. 
I enrolled in summer school and got a job (so I wasn’t really there to watch my brothers very much).  When summer ended and school started, I desperately wanted to recreate the previous year.  After all, it was the best year of my life.  Of course, I didn’t.  It was a different time and place.  The school was different.  The kids were different.  Even the music on the radio was different. 
(That was one of the oddest things.  When I arrived in San Diego, even though it was only one day later, it was as if I were in a time warp.  None of the songs that were playing in Monterey were played in San Diego; not one.  It was months before I heard those songs again and by then they were considered “oldies.”)
Everything was different.  No one knew or cared about my previous accomplishments.  I didn’t belong to any groups.  Academically things were far more difficult, which was good, but not as much fun.  Everything was far more serious.
Theater, in particular, became a horrific experience for me because everyone took it so seriously.   I was the assistant stage manager, which made me the stage manager’s personal whipping post. We were doing high school plays, but there was no love and no fun.  I was exhausted.  One night I fell asleep with my clothes on.  According to my parents, I woke up, ran through the house yelling at them, “I’m not doing this anymore!  You can’t make me!”  I don’t remember any of this.  When I woke up, I was still dressed, but in different clothes.   I survived one semester and got out and didn’t do theater again for almost ten years. 
On the plus side, I became a far better writer and that may have saved my life.
When the year ended, I went back to Monterey to see my old friends.  Everything had changed.  People who had once been best friends were no longer speaking.  A lot of the innocence was gone.  Though I had a good weekend, it was one of the last truly good times I had there.
Still it took me a long time to recover from the best time of my life..  I wanted things to be the way they had been.  Since they couldn’t stay the same, I did.  I stopped growing emotionally for about ten years.  I kept myself as an emotional adolescent for a long time.  It took a traumatic event to help me realize I needed to let go.  Through time, patience, and the love of good friends, I began to let go of the past and be grateful for where I was.  I realize there is vagueness and missing details with regard to my recovery.  Suffice it to say, that I did recover and am extremely grateful.  In fact, gratitude was one of the things that helped me heal.
This still feels highly personal but I wrote this blog for my Muse because she wants to know this.  I’m fortunate because I still have friends from that era.  I now have a new life in which I have learned to Get Started and Keep Going…and that is even better than the best time of my life.