1999

Hello 90s fashion

I write about teens, for teen readers, yet I am definitely not a teen.

But I was once.

A friend posted the above photo on Facebook today, and I had to share. I mean, it’s from my junior year homecoming dance. It’s priceless.

(I’m in the red, in the middle. Fun fact: I wanted that specific dress because it looked like Rose’s in Titanic. I loved Rose’s dress.)

So that’s me and my friends taking pictures before the dance. Some of us had dates, some of us did not (I did not), but we all went as a group, and still found one another when the perfect song was on. And the best part? We’re all still friends. In fact, the girl on the right was not just one of my bridesmaids, but also one of the original readers of TNWSY. (You’ll see her mentioned in the acknowledgements.)

So that’s high school me. I wasn’t gorgeous, I wasn’t popular, I was just…me. And I was completely okay with that.

The Photo Not Taken

When I was in high school, I spent many a day and many a night at my friend Michelle’s house. Her parents were my parents. Her brothers my brothers. We talked about school and friends and boys there. We learned to sew. We had pool parties. We celebrated the year 2000   with little sips of champagne through gummy straws because we couldn’t handle the taste.

There was a group of us, really, who all found home at her house, even though we were all fortunate enough to have great homes of our own to go back to. We were, all of us, family.

Last night, ringing in 2014, we were back to that same house. A large group of us really, some friends from high school, some not. Some married in, some just new friends. But once again we were united and together and celebrating.

There was one moment when four of us were sitting on the floor and talking – me, Michelle, and two of our other close high school friends. We were sipping champagne (or, for me, water) and discussing baby names, and plans, and hopes for the new year. Nothing monumental, just something, and I couldn’t help but think about how we got here. How, 14 years later with some of us living in different cities and all of us a bit different than we were back then, I’m celebrating a new year in the same house. I’m hanging out with the same people I loved back then, and still do to this day. And I couldn’t help but feel eternally grateful.

We don’t have a photo of that moment, of the casualness of our conversation, the feeling of comfort just being there, with them. But i’ll remember it. Because sometimes the small moments make the biggest impact. The laughter, the sighs. Sometimes those are the ones i’ll continue to hold on to, and remember in days I need to smile. Because I’ll always have those girls. And I’m so lucky to say that.

The Little Fox

When I was in high school, my life more or less revolved around the drama department. I was an actress (I was not very good), I created the programs (they had a lot of fonts – it was early Microsoft Word days, after all), I was an officer (secretary, then president), I made publicity t-shirts, I competed in district and state competitions, I was a friend, a coach, a listener. Basically, drama was everything to me. I knew I wouldn’t do it in college (though, crazy enough, I did for a bit), but that didn’t matter. I loved it. I created my identity around it.

As is with most drama teachers, my teacher was crazy. She was this little ball of spiky-haired energy that would literally throw shoes at us when she was upset (or, sometimes, when she was proud). She was a mother, a friend. She knew the right roles for us. She knew what we needed to hear, and, sometimes, what we needed to do. She loved each and every one of us.

Every year when members  graduated, she would give them a copy of The Little Prince, casting them in a role that most suited them. When my year came, I met it with joy and trepidation. I always wanted my own copy, but what was next? What lay on that overwhelmingly large space ahead of me? But during my final drama end-of-the-year party, when I got my copy, I knew i’d be okay. I had friends. I had family.

I met college with that same amount of hesitance and passion. I tried. I joined clubs. I found myself. But…I never forgot what my teacher wrote. Interestingly, I think it’s what led me towards becoming a teacher, and now, a librarian. I’m not sure how she knew it back then, when I was 17, but what she wrote still rings true. Still guides me and pushes me to be the Fox she always knew I was.

Lauren – You are the Fox who teaches all the Little Princes in your life how to live.. Remember your gift always…”

I won’t forget. Ever.

The Ataris

About a year ago, my husband created a blog called Youth Groups where he writes about bands he loved in high school, and then revisits their music to see what he thinks now, as an adult. It’s a neat concept, and I’ve had fun learning more about high school him (since we didn’t meet until college).

Today, I guest posted. My post is about my meaningful and deep love affair with the band The Ataris. They were everything to me.

So…check it out!

UPDATE: Kris, the lead singer, has apparently read my post. 16-year-old AND 29-year-old Lauren are both equally fan-girling LIKE CRAZY.

Ten Years Later

I was just informed that my 10 year high school reunion is scheduled for September 10th. A few things came to mind when I read it:

1) It’s FOURTEEN DAYS before my wedding. I guess that’s close enough to going back married, right?
2) I have a very limited amount of time to achieve my goal of becoming a published novelist before the reunion.
3) It’s really been ten years.

Ten years.

It’s weird, I’ve been reading the book Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan lately, and its been taking back to those early days of college with misty eyes and longing nostalgia. Now, getting this news, I can’t help but think back to high school. Who was I back then? How much have I changed?

How much has everything changed?

I didn’t have the Internet for my first two years of high school, and didn’t receive a cell phone until graduation. I had just started driving the previous October, and had never spent more than a week away from my parents. I was young, shy, with big bushy hair and contacts that didn’t give me a headache (as they do now). I cared deeply what others thought, but rarely voiced my own opinion. I wasn’t quite me yet – but I was happy. I had people who loved me, and that was most important. Especially in high school.

Because honestly, ten years ago the most important thing was friendship. At this point, I was already accepted to FSU. I was on my way to graduate, and prom was the only important thing on the horizon. And even that was more of a social gathering, than a romantic night. I held on tight to my friends, and went out with them every night. Be it someone’s house, Chuck-E-Cheese (where two worked), the mall, Borders, or just the neighborhood park, we were there. Living. Breathing. And all in the crazy mess of hormones and high school together. Hands held and eyes closed, we sped through the days, not wondering what would happen next, and not really caring. We lived in the moment, whether it was crying over a breakup with cookie dough, or arranging strategic games of capture the flag with water guns.

At 17, I was still figuring things out, still looking for more, and eager to embark on the next chapter of my life (yet still, scared to leave everything behind). I was good in every sense of the way, but I still drove fast and stayed out past curfew. I was invincible, in the way only a high school student could be.

So, to celebrate the date being set, this week I’m going to post a few stories from high school Lauren’s days. Before circus and Samir, before writing and teaching. I’m unlocking the diary, and remembering what it was really like to be 17: afraid, excited, confused, under appreciated (as we all were, right?), nervous, thrilled, and, well, young.