Today’s post is in response to this week’s Remembe(red) prompt over at the The Red Dress Club. We were asked to write about Graduation…
I was 19 when I graduated because on that first day of Senior year, the year before – or what should have been my Senior year – I had marched down to the main office of Southridge, with my mother in tow and had her sign me out of high school.
I thought I was wasting my time in school. I only needed three credits to graduate. I hated my high school. Most of my friends were older than I was and had graduated the prior year. I wanted to start living my life. I wanted out. I thought I was too big and too smart and that my stupid school was dragging me down, preventing me from going out into the world and becoming the person I wanted to be.
God only knows what possessed my parents to let me drop out. I can’t recall the details all these years later, the story I must have spun in order to convince them that I would take a few classes at night school and graduate before all of my Senior class. I can be pretty persuasive when I want to be. I probably threw the “job” word out there, which was a magic word with my father.
The truth was, I dropped out of night school after taking only two classes. I needed ONE more class and I would have been done. With a high GPA, with a transcript full of honors and advanced placement classes…but I dropped out of night school too. I felt that my classes were beneath me – they were. I felt that my teachers didn’t give a shit – they didn’t. I gave up on “school.”
I ran away to North Carolina.
I built a house with my grandparents. I drank wine coolers with my grandmother. We went on day trips through the mountains and picked wild greens. We stayed up late and watched David Letterman together, chain smoking and drinking Coca Cola.
And one day, out of nowhere, I felt stupid. I had coasted through high school with good grades without even trying. I wans’t MENSA material, but I was smart. I loved to read. My teachers loved me. I had lots of friends. I was cute and pretty and had no enemies.
Yet here I was, in this podunk town, doing absolutely nothing.
So I went home. I went home and I enrolled in the same high school, took the same courses I would have taken had I stayed to begin with. I figured I’d pick up where I left off, then join the Marines like I had been thinking about ever since I could remember.
What was left of my friends had already graduated that June. They’d all gone on to college. I was utterly and completely alone that last year. Sure, I made new friends with my classmates. But it wasn’t the same. I had known most of my classmates since middle school, some of them even from elementary school. And my classes? It was difficult walking into AP English after being out of school for a year. I struggled.
It was hard. It was even harder when I got pregnant halfway through the school year.
But I did it. I walked down that isle and I graduated high school. A year late and a dollar short, but I did it all the same.