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I remember it all as if it were yesterday. Except yesterday is kind of a blur.

August 9, 2011

When my old friend Kay, whom I hadn’t laid eyes on since graduating high school in 1999, first tracked me down on the interwebs more than a year ago, we excitedly discussed finding a weekend to visit each other in our respective East Coast cities. Then we totally dropped the ball because we’re lame, boring, 30-something grown-ups now with jobs and responsibilities and whatever.

But when fellow bloggers Nursemyra and Daisyfae invited me to join them (and Shrink Rap, too!) in New York City for a rollicking rendezvous, I made sure to finally squeeze in a visit with Kay. After parting ways with my new friends, I rode the M15 bus up First Avenue to reconnect with an old one for a reunion that was 12 years in the making. Over the next 50 blocks, I took inventory of our history.

Kay and I first became pals in middle school, and I found it in my heart to forgive her when in sixth grade she made out behind the bleachers or wherever kids make out because I certainly never went there, near there, or within a 100-mile radius of there with Jimmy, who was obviously made for me. After drifting in and out of each other’s lives, our friendship was cemented the summer before our senior year during a drunken class trip to Spain. Then we both toiled side by side — I was a co-editor-in-chief and she the photo editor — on the staff of our high school newspaper, The Courier. When deadline was looming and Mountain Dew just wasn’t enough to take the edge off a task that we took very seriously, we’d sneak out to the parking lot and I’d bum her Marlboro Ultra Lights. She was always a bad influence.

Before I could ring the buzzer to her apartment, Kay met me at the doorstep. After OMGs and hugs, she caught me up on her ambitious career, recited the college love story of how she met her boyfriend of nine years and confided that she’s giving serious thought to moving back to Cleveland so her future children will grow up close to their grandparents and extended Italian family. In turn, I told her about my two cats. We’ve both come so far.

We tossed back countless sweet tea vodka and lemonades as well as smoked a few cigarettes — see? bad influence — during a still-stifling Manhattan evening on the back porch of her favorite Upper East Side dive bar, where she and her beau drink for free. Or have a tab. Or were quite possibly stealing. As old friends are ought to do, we began reminiscing about high school. Or, more accurately, Kay waxed nostalgic, because I recall virtually none of it.

Kay: Remember the senior scavenger hunt, and we dug up all of the marigolds in (Hoyt T. Toity’s) lawn?

Me: Umm …

Kay: Remember when (Ima Ho) got knocked up and was sent away to have the baby?

Me: Who?

Kay: Remember the kid who got stabbed while we were in Spain?

Me: No. That’s Spanish for “no.” I think.

I am, apparently, the worst person to take a stroll down Memory Lane with. I guess it’s not really Memory Lane without the memory. Just Lane, then.

June 1999: Kay, me and my baby fat, which I can't seem to forget, no matter how hard I try.

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44 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2011 2:44 AM

    Aww. This is so sweet. I wish I’d had a friend to drink lemonade vodka with. We were too tedious to drink in high school. Though you clearly have the shittiest memory ever, it sounds like you had a very good high school experience, and thank God we have Kay to tell us about it.

  2. August 9, 2011 3:08 AM

    I love the blinding white graduation gowns. Small-scale reunions are better than massive awful parties.

  3. August 9, 2011 4:08 AM

    but but but….. you don’t even look like a redhead in that photo

    • August 9, 2011 7:15 PM

      We were in a poorly lit theater. The red hair graduated high school that day, too. Promise.

  4. August 9, 2011 4:51 AM

    Drinks, memories (even blured ones – you sure those were Marlboro Ultra Lights? ) and frozen pizza ’til 5am sounds like a great reunion.

  5. Tershbango permalink
    August 9, 2011 5:56 AM

    Oh, hi!! I’ve MISSED you!

  6. August 9, 2011 7:21 AM

    there’s something different about the friends you grow up with… even after 30 years, when three of my high school running buddies came to town for our reunion last fall, we were able to hoark up enough pieces of memory puzzles that we learned a few more bits about our own histories…

    you graduated with a medal and the gold rope. national honor society? valedictorian? “best cat mom”?

    • August 9, 2011 7:20 PM

      You think I remember? Not “best cat mom.” I had a dog then. Shhh. Don’t tell.

      My best guesses: National Honor Society and academic achievement. As you probably suspected, I was a big nerd.

      • August 9, 2011 10:27 PM

        i recognize the gold rope and the medal, dear. shhh… i was a nerd, too. and at graduation, probably outweighed you by about 20 pounds or more! there’s life after high school. in fact, MOST of it is after high school…

  7. August 9, 2011 8:07 AM

    I’ve missed you too!

    I totally loved this…

    Since you are from Cleveland I can tell you that I remember very little from high school myself…mine would also take years of therapy to unearth…why? I went to BEACHWOOD HIGH

    ’nuff said huh?

  8. August 9, 2011 10:37 AM

    You graduated the same year as me! Don’t worry, I had baby fat, too.

    I’m glad you had a nice time!

  9. August 9, 2011 10:56 AM

    Love this story.

    My baby fat didn’t leave me until I was in my early 20’s, when it was quickly replaced with a soft down fur that kept my stunning cadaverous body warm during those chilly summer months.

    ps. Totally kidding about the fur. And also (unfortunately) about the cadaverous body.

  10. August 9, 2011 11:12 AM

    I don’t remember high school either. I thought it was the booze. Now I am not so sure. Thanks, dude. Now I’m tempted to google Memory Loss. I am so fucked.

  11. August 9, 2011 11:35 AM

    Wait a minute…you can grow OUT of baby fat? When?!? I spent my whole adolescence thinking that when I was 25 I would look like a grown up like all those people on TV. Now, at 34, I’ve come to realize that I will never have a jawline. Not even if I starved myself down to 130 pounds. So I’m just going to enjoy my ice cream, mm-kay?

    I’m glad you did the reunion thing. It’s always fun to get together with old friends.

  12. August 9, 2011 11:44 AM

    This post makes me worried about being in my 30s. Lame and boring huh? boo.

  13. August 9, 2011 1:02 PM

    AWESOME! Old friends are the best fiends. Yes, I realize that says fiends. It was originally a typo but then I realized that both fit.

  14. August 9, 2011 1:52 PM

    Maybe Kay was making everything up to cause you to question your sanity. Maybe she was just effing with you.

    I don’t trust this Kay person.

    Wait. Who is she again?

  15. August 9, 2011 2:22 PM

    Awww! I love your high school look. You must have been totally cool. I am also quite impressed by your ability to speak Spanish. Que talento!

  16. August 9, 2011 2:46 PM

    😀 So cute. I have a friend like that – her name is Lu. I’m glad you got to see Kay again.

  17. August 9, 2011 2:52 PM

    This guy got hired at my work and when he looked at me, said “I know you.” After I showed absolutely no recognition of him, he dropped it with the never-mind eye roll.

    Four years later, my friend Kyle roped me into helping him plan our 10 year reunion. That same guy at my work? Apparently I went to school with him for five years. He even hung out with us a couple of times in university.

    No memory of him. I even looked up his picture. Nope. Doesn’t ring a bell at all.

    I feel your memory pain.

  18. August 9, 2011 3:06 PM

    I am so, so glad I am not the only person that drinks sweet tea vodka mixed with lemonade. I get made fun of so terribly for it.

  19. August 9, 2011 5:02 PM

    “we’ve both come so far”… dying.

    i’m cursed with a memory that doesn’t let up. it’s like memory super-fucking-highway up in here. i remember shit that didn’t even happen.

  20. Jessica permalink
    August 9, 2011 6:17 PM

    Sending a link for this to “my” Kay, except her name is Kerry, who I’ve reconnected with on FB, and who I am *fingers crossed, God of finances* flying form Fl to CO to see in October. I haven’t seen her since we were 16 when she moved away.
    We have already planned to do just the same shenanigans as you and Kay, except with hiking, and pole dancing classes. Oh yeah. And we’re talking class of 1987, soooo…its been a few years.
    I am you in this scenario. I can remember nothing, nor do I wish to recuperate my sense of recall.
    Also welcome back, I missed you.

  21. August 9, 2011 10:52 PM

    sounds lovely. I have a few friends like that. it’s always weird for me to hear how they perceived me back then. like, my image of me was SO different.

  22. August 10, 2011 7:40 AM

    it’s a much bigger pain in the ass of a trip to WBGV, but it’d be worth it — I can’t call you on shit you don’t remember, ’cause I can’t remember shit either, so we can just make up really kick-ass memories! “Hey, remember that time we went to the State Fair and Cher was totally running the Tilt-a-Whirl and she let us ride for free? That was AWESOME!”

    • August 11, 2011 2:42 PM

      If you do happen to make that trip, please include me! I need to hang out with other forgetful 30-somethings, instead of the even more forgetful 50-somethings I tend to get stuck hanging around on a regular basis here in libraryland. Plus, I really do remember Cher. She was wearing some weird bedazzled jumper, wasn’t she? And she let you try on her feather headdress. So. Hilarious.

      • August 12, 2011 7:27 AM

        and then you ate that Taco-in-a-Bag and threw up on the ferris wheel and they wouldn’t let us back on? That was GREAT!

  23. August 10, 2011 3:33 PM

    Maybe you were roofied all through HS? Or maybe that’s just my dream for my own HS experience?

  24. August 10, 2011 10:50 PM

    UM, IMMA CHANGE MY NAME TO Hoyt T. Toity. Pronto. Stat. Immediately. If not sooner.

  25. August 10, 2011 11:43 PM

    *chuckle*

    Thank gods you can admit it…you DON’T remember.

    I still meet people who ‘knew’ me way back then and – – damn it – – I just stand there like a knob trying to place them in my life while smiling like an idiot.

    Could be old age.

    Maybe.

    Whatever.

    I just keep being reasured that I had one hell of a good time.

    I can live with that.

    *grin*

    M.L.

  26. August 11, 2011 10:59 AM

    If I’d known I wasn’t going to remember making any happy memories, I wouldn’t have wasted time trying to make them in the first place. I’ll have to remember that in the future.

  27. August 11, 2011 12:44 PM

    I don’t remember anything from my school days either, nor my childhood. Only recently, my Dad informed me that when I was 10, a neighbour gave me a dead squirrel in a box as a present (don’t ask). I apparently show-boated that thing round the neighbourhood like I was Queen of Sheba.

    You’d think I’d remember such an obscure event in my life.

    But no, nada, nothing.

  28. August 11, 2011 10:49 PM

    Man, if I ever escape the Birthplace of Aviation and land in Boston or New York I will be so grateful. I feel like no one leaves this place alive! Anyway…Sounds like fun! Also, sweet tea vodka and lemonade? How have I not heard of such a concoction before??

  29. August 12, 2011 1:36 AM

    I remember a little of high school, but everything before that is a complete blur. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  30. Stella permalink
    August 13, 2011 12:06 AM

    Well, I think being you is better than being me, a boring 40 something grown-up (or at least still trying) with responsibilities and what not. . .a dog, and only bad memories of high school. . .
    OK, not totally true. When we graduated we followed the time honoured tradition of sleeping over at the school, yes outside, and drinking (Stone’s Green Ginger Wine, don’t ask, I was 17 at the time) and in the morning digging a big mud pit in the oval so that when the rest of the students came to school we ran shrieking and flung ourselves into it. (Try not to have anyone behind you do that and collide with your neck.) That was a good memory of high school. . . in case you couldn’t tell. . .
    Stella

  31. August 18, 2011 6:40 AM

    Maybe we can’t remember high school because we did so much in college…

    This post made me nostalgic and envious at the same time. Nostalgic for those days when I could see to read without glasses, when I didn’t know what cash flow meant, when my tits were still perky and hadn’t acknowledge the existence of the Law of Gravity…

    Envious because you actually have an old friend from high school that you can almost remember the stuff you did together. I have no person in the world that fits that bill because I never did anything with anybody during hs; by the time I got to high school I was so shell-shocked by the bullying I was the butt of during grade school and junior high school that I had retreated deep into books and music and did not come out of that foxhole until I went to college. If I looked up anyone from high school I’m afraid it would be in order to lay a huge guilt trip on them right before I stabbed them 27 times in the heart. Fortunately, I don’t know where any of them are, plus I’ve watched enough CSI to know that the authorities would catch up with me sooner or later and despite the excellent medical care available (for free!) in our prison system, I have no desire to move to those sorts of quarters.

    Which brings up the question, “Why is is okay to provide 100% medical coverage to convicted criminals but to contemplate doing that for the rest of America is tantamount to advocating that we all become a bunch of commie pinkos?”

    Now I will stop bringing down the humorous and gentle level of your blog to political commentary….

    • August 19, 2011 10:20 PM

      I’m glad you don’t want to follow through with your plot to stab a former classmate 27 times, because now that you’ve left this comment on my blog, I’d probably be subpoenaed and testifying at your trial would be kind of inconvenient for me, I’d have to get a sitter for the cats … you know how it goes.

      My high school experience was far from ideal, but nowhere near as painful as yours. How wonderful, though, that for most of us there is life beyond high school. And we can make of it whatever we please. And compensate for what we’re lacking with cats.

  32. August 18, 2011 5:06 PM

    Prob not my place to respond Hands. . . . but High School definitely sucks! It’s cruel and everyone desperately tries to “conform” (even though they think they’re trying to rebel) and fit in, at whatever cost. As a teacher I still don’t understand why kids can be so cruel to each other and show such lack of empathy. And there’s no easy answer to addressing it, although at least at my school we try very hard.
    I hope you did so much in college that memories of HS are cast aside. . . as for medical cover, I agree totally. Here in Oz we have all have access to free medical care, I’d have thought it was a basic human right. I never understood that about the U.S.
    Stella x

  33. August 21, 2011 12:54 AM

    After you failed to remember the kid getting stabbed in Spain, did Kay look at you and ask whether you might have somehow got into some comedy of error and mis-identification in which you two did not know each other in high school? LOL. Old friends from our youth are really the best.

    • August 21, 2011 12:57 AM

      By the way, I went to all girls schools (kind of a norm where I grew up) and did not have male friends until I was in college. Pretty sure my take is very different from most people’s in the US. My popularity peaked during those years I now fear… Had fan girls but never had fan boys.

  34. karoppi permalink
    August 21, 2011 9:37 PM

    You had me at the title of the post. Well done!

  35. August 22, 2011 9:23 PM

    I LOVE YOUR LACK OF MEMORY.

    Because I share that disorder. It’s not such a big deal, until people start reminiscing and I can only remember that one story. Which may actually be an episode of the Waltons.

    PS My in-laws are in Cleveland and if you ever go back home, let me know and we will meet there, too, so that we can get through it together.

    I love you so hard.

  36. August 24, 2011 1:46 PM

    Nice to know I’m not the only one who draws a complete blank when it comes to this stuff. I don’t remember much of anything from high school (except a bunch of stuff that sucked). Little bits and pieces, but you could probably show me photos of me doing things and I’d still draw a blank. Not that anyone ever took photos of me, but still.

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