Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Age of Innocence: 16 & 17

Since 16 & 17 are so close and kind of run into each other, I will cover them together in one post.

I was 16 at the beginning of my Junior year in High schoool. At this time, I was a member of our high kick drill team, The Band Aids. We were considered part of the band and performed with the band, hence the name Band Aids. Not because some of our routines were especially brutal. I remember on routine to the song Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where we went from a standing position and fell straight onto our faces. We of course, or hopefully, caught ourselves with our hands. That was the intent anyways. In practicing to get this move right, we ended up with many bruised knees. At least until we discovered that knee pads were miracle workers. Too bad we couldn't wear them during the performance. At least that would be on the football field.

When I turned 16 or soon after, my Dad gave me his old car. It was a mint green 1981 Mazda 626. I didn't care what it was, it was a CAR. Not long after I got it, I would be driving along and all of a sudden it wouldn't go into any gear and then white smoke would poor out the tail pipe. I kept telling my father about the problems, but the car would never do it for him. He finally took it into the mechanic and they told him the engine was going to blow up. Told you so.

I remember my Dad taking me and my friend Lauren for our learner's permits. The day we were going, it poured and I remember, driving down Willowbend on the wrong side of the road. Technically we were actually on the sidewalk and on people's lawns. We had to be or we would have just gotten stuck and we were getting those permit's come hell or high water. Pun intended. I remember a bus came by and we rocked back and forth from the waves. That was the day I learned that as long as you kept on the gas so that water did not get into the tail pipe, you should be okay driving through semi-high water. Don't quote me on that.

I remember driver's ed too. I remember almost going into a ditch one day with someone driving. Most of all I remember the video they showed us about trying to beat trains. It was disturbing and has had a lasting affect on me for sure. I will never try to beat a train.

At the end of my Junior Year, at 17, I had try outs for cheerleading. At that time you could not be a cheerleader until your senior year. Our senior year would be the first year that we allowed Juniors. We had practice every day after school with the current squad. I remember hours of my arms going up and down into all different cheer positions. It was hard work. I would come home sore every day, but I didn't care. I had wanted to be a cheerleader for as long as I could remember. Try outs came and I was so nervous. We had to go out on stage and do our cheers while the judges sat out somewhere in the dark auditorium and watched us in the spotlight. I am sure that I said I did horrible. I remember the day they were announcing who made the squad. All of us that tried out sat in the hallway awaiting the announcements. The outgoing squad came over the loud speaker to announce the 1992-93 Cheerleading Squad. They had made up two line little poems for each of us. I don't remember what mine said, but I remember being so happy I made it. I may have that poem somewhere.

The summer between my Junior and Senior year was spent practicing for cheerleading. Hours in the sun practicing stunts and cheers and pyramids and more. This summer was also a summer that would change my life forever. At this time my Mother and sister lived in Mexico. my mother ran a small resort in the Yucatan about 4 hours south of Cancun. This would be last summer I would visit here. It was the 3rd or 4th summer that I had been coming to visit mother in this particular location. My mother never stayed in one place very long. This summer my Mother got married. I remember finding my sister at the wedding. She was drinking Mescal, a very strong drink. Keep in mind my sister is 4 years younger than me. I took one sip of that stuff and about threw up. Yuck. But she kept drinking it.

Later that night something happened that forever changed my view of the world. I am not ready to tell that story yet, but maybe someday. I have started to write it, but don't know that I am ready to share that with the world yet.

Back to happier times. High school was your typical drama central. I had a boyfriend and then I didn't. I had a best friend and then I didn't. I turned 18 in December of 1993 and graduated the following May. I left high school behind me when I graduated and never looked back really until my 10 year reunion two years ago, where I reunited with so many of my girl friends that I had been missing all these years. I am glad to have them all back in my life. Now I can really appreciate them.

I spent much of high school depressed and disappointed. I expected a lot of other people and when those expectations (which were usually unreasonable) were not met, I was angry and hurt. I spent a lot of time angry and hurt and I look back now and it's such a shame that I could not enjoy the blessings I had in my life. I had always wanted to be a cheerleader, but my experiences on the squad were dampened by my negative view of the world and my high expectations of others to make/keep me happy. I look back now and realize how lucky I was and how blessed I was. I am so thankful that at least now I appreciate all the things and people around me. I am healed. I am blessed. I am happy.

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