But now I'm going to ask if you will participate in a writing project. It's not just any old "roll them bones and see if they turn up a story" project. I don't want your personal preferences in intimate apparel, nor the true basis behind your family's deeply secret long-standing feud. I don't even want to hear the part about how everything is actually your significant's other's fault, or the list of things you shoplifted or whom you cheated with or even whom you didn't cheat with but have always wondered about.
No, I'm not going to stay in easy territory. I want you to write in the comments something really frightening. I want you to write a detailed comment about what you were like in about high school.
My theory, you see (and a post isn't a post to me, unless it has a theory, and my comments history seems to agree), is that in high school we are such a rushing wash of hormonal change and ill-formed absolutes that we are at our most vulnerable and
formative in high school---at our most "real", at our most "unreal".
I like to share the things about one another that go beyond favorite song memes or the configuration of interrelated intimacies or even the "which Kate Bush song are you?" polls.
I like to get to the dark, beating, pulsing heart of the matter. The heart don't beat any redder, any whiter or any blacker than in high school. So it's time for you to get the blood pumping, or just watch the blood flow. No fair saying "I was really boring, and my friends were boring, too". I ain't buying.
If you dare, write in the comments a number of paragraphs which cover the following things:
1. First paragraph--in third person (he or she and not we or I), describe for me
what the person who is you was like in high school. Don't just tell me that you had braces and were in the band. Tell me who you were. What were your hopes and fears?
What did you learn to love, to fear? How did high school change you?
2. Second paragraph--the trivia section--still in third person--What would you have listened to on the tape player or CD player on a perfect Summer night with your high school friends? What would your friends do for fun? What did you hope and dream of doing one day in high school? Who really "got" you, and what was the name of your totally unrequited crush.
3. Third paragraph--still writing in third person, tell me a vignette from your high school days which will help me to understand you. I know it's tempting, here, to write about your violent trauma, or your personal teen real-life soap opera, your moment of religious ecstasy, or even tales of debauchery, night moves and incredible pharmacopeia. I can't deny that those things and memories stay with one a lifetime (except perhaps some controlled substance use, which has a way of killing memories even as it creates them). There's no "wrong" answer, so back seat stories or the day you felt the call are fine, but I am actually hunting for those little formative moments from your high school days, those little "spaces in between" which matter so much more than the big stories and the elegant tales.
4. In the fourth paragraph, tell me something I can learn from what you learned in high school. Tell me something concrete, and vivid and story-telling, as "beer bad" and "I can't believe they cancelled Freaks and Geeks" don't quite hit the sweet spot on the bat. Tell me some tiny ray of insight you obtained one day, and can share with me.
My goal is for the comments to this post to be a virtual class reunion, except unlike a class reunion, we might say useful things that will help advance understanding, and not things about what cars we drive or what houses we own.
In this vein, I am looking less for the "big revelations", although I acknowledge that having a child or suffering abuse or converting to a religion or just getting high all the time in high school can markedly affect one's life. I'm hunting instead for the tiny moments, the little vignettes, that, as I like to say, tell us nothing and tell us everything. I find that sometimes the "really big stuff" is less effective to show one's sould, because we are all so de-sensitized to everything.
High school makes Halloween seem like cotton candy. Will you share your fluff, your spun sugar, and your paper cup of memories with me, and let's see what we can learn here at this LiveJournal carnival?
Be brave! Step right up! I'll do the same, a few comments in.