looking from the other side

December 19. 1999

"I'm not looking forward to this." I muttered to my mother as I entered the high school through the auditorium doors. She gave me a strange look. I had a feeling of apprehension, a barely suppressible panic rising in me. Going here was going back. I did not want to go back. I kept my composure and began looking for familiar faces. The first one I saw was Kelleny. I walked over and gave her a brief hug and we chatted for a moment about the weird serendipity of seeing each other on South Street, and about how much we liked Philadelphia. I envy her living downtown in the midst of everything. Charles was also there with her. He gave me a rather stupid grin and said Hi. Supposedly he's been lusting after my sister (like everyone else, it seems) for the last few months. Asshole.

Found Jeanette, my voice teacher, and gave her a hug. She's always so soft. The most brilliant blue eyes in the world. We chatted for a while, and made tentative plans to get together at some point.

Got into the auditorium, found our seats and I busied myself trying to be inconspicuous. I had done so many things in this auditorium...choral rehearsals, show choir rehearsals, play auditions, rehearsals and performances, talent shows, piano recitals. A lot of memories wrapped up in this one room. Mostly ones I wanted to forget.

The CCHS Holiday concert is generally one of pomp and circumstance, due in no small part to the orchestrator of the event, Mr. Marks, a man I grew to like less and less in my waning high school career. This was not due to the fact that I was a bad student, because I was in all the singing groups, and was even one of 5 people in the entire school to get to the PA Region 5 chorus. He was one of those people that, if you were loyal to him, played buddy buddy, you would get in good when it came to solos, etc. Hence, he had a little cotillion of people around him that worshipped him. I found it somewhat disgusting. To me, he was completely fake. Every time I tried to talk to him about anything, I got the "I think you're full of shit" vibes. Not only that, but during rehearsals, he used bullying tactics that I found very objectionable.  And I made sure he knew that. Hence, I was not one of his favorite people. By the time the end of my senior year approached, Mr. Marks and chorus were a huge joke for me.

After the short introduction by the small orchestra, the entire 425 member chorus filed in, candles lit. Marks raised his arms, and Whooosh! I was hit by this incredible wall of sound. I couldn't believe the chorus sounded this amazing from the audience. And all this time, I thought we were so shitty. It progressed quickly, from chorus to the women's chorus to the concert choir to the show choir and finally back to the chorus. I was continually amazed by how good everyone sounded. So this is why everyone goes apeshit over this concert, I thought. We really ARE good.

They got to the Hallelujah Chorus, which we do every year, and as usual, he asked the alumni to come up onto the stage to sing. I hadn't intended to go up, to stay safely in the shadow of the audience, but after my parents and sister (from the stage) egging me on, I got up with all my friends and sang. I found Katy as I was walking to the stage, and she nearly tackled me with a hug. "Oh, Beefany, you dyed your hair!" she said, and touched the blonde streaks in my hair. Everyone seemed to notice and comment on the change in my hair color since August.

So I got up and sang with the chorus. The whole concert was pretty and nice, but it didn't make me change my mind about high school. I refuse to look at my high school years through rose colored glasses. I was often miserable, mostly of my own making, and I felt alienated from people who I thought didn't understand. I felt dissatisfied, creatively stagnant, and unwanted and ignored by the general populace of the school.

But now I look from the other side. As Ani DiFranco says, "Step back, and put on a wider lens." So I try. Oddly enough, I didn't get the "the returning college hero" feeling, or "I am a worldly wise college student, and I know more than you do, so pay me homage." All I felt was different. I am less in some ways, and more in others. I've made steps forward, and I've backtracked, too. I thought college would give me the answers to the questions I had been asking all through high school, it in some ways it did, but college also made me ask a whole new set of questions. Time to look for the answers.

music: Awake, Dream Theater
food: heavily processed pizza, coke
read: A Reader's Digest. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess
sight: Biography on A&E
song lyric:
so many ways to drown a man / so many ways to drag him down
- 6:00, Dream Theater