Sunday, March 20, 2016

Blast from my past

Do you ever wonder if you've made an impact on people? Do you ever wonder if you'll be remembered? I can't be the only person who has these thoughts. I'm sure I'm not. But, the other day, this question was kinda-sorta answered for me. It was the one bright spot in a fairly bleak week, so it's something I keep coming back to right now. Here's the story:

Whenever someone asks where I grew up, I hesitate. I mean, technically I was born in Germany. Then I lived in Kansas until I was six. At which point, we moved to Fayetteville, NC. My dad had been in the Army and was in and out of medical school, which led to all the shuttling across oceans and countries. But, once he was stationed at Ft. Bragg, we stayed quite a while. At least, for a military family. I went to school in Fayetteville from 1st grade up through 9th. At the start of 10th grade, we moved back to Kansas. And, here I've stayed ever since. So, when someone asks where I grew up, I say North Carolina, even though I've lived in Kansas for the majority of my years. Not the easiest question, but I do consider my most influential childhood memories to have taken place in those years I resided in North Carolina.

Now, when we left North Carolina to move to Kansas, I was not happy. First of all, I was a 14-year-old girl. Show me a 14-year-old girl who is happy to leave her whole life and all her friends, and, well, I'd be more likely to believe that that girl was in fact an alien sent to earth to explore the intricacies of teenagehood than she was an actual teenager. I was very unhappy. I did not want to leave. I had a crush on a boy, and I had a life with friends I loved. This was not in my plan.

14-year-old me. (Ugh, the eyebrows and braces!)

Throw in the fact that this was WAY back in 1995, and you have to remember that we had no internet. I mean, it existed in some form back then, what with scientists and computer guys sending messages back and forth, but we, personally, did not have it. And, no one I knew had it. It simply wasn't a thing. So, if you wanted to stay in touch with all these friends you were leaving, you had to actually write a letter. Like on paper. Then address it. And lick the envelope. And, put a stamp on it. And, walk it out to the mailbox. Now you're getting into the whole "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" scenario and it all just spirals. There are so many more steps than simply clicking a mouse.

"Kids these days have no clue," says Amy, the crotchety old woman hiding in a 35-year-old body.

And, because, letters are all we had back then. my 9th grade yearbook is covered with notes to "please write" and "KIT" and "don't forget me!" But, I was an angry 14-year-old. And, I was moving halfway across the country. I really missed my friends, but my concern upon entering the state of Kansas immediately became about finding a way to fit into this incredibly different world. And, when I say different, I mean different. I moved from a very ethnically and socioeconomically diverse world of Army in the South to a fairly wealthy, non-diverse suburb of a mid-sized city in the middle of the country. There were people wearing cowboy boots and driving trucks in the parking lot of my high school. I know I came from the South, but it wasn't that South. We did not have that. It was a culture shock to say the least. Cowboy boots, people. Cowboy boots at school.

Anyway, I spent my time trying to figure out where I fit in. I knew no one and didn't have a clue how or what to do to make friends. Slowly but surely, I managed to make some friends. One in particular who is my go-to girl to this day. And, slowly, I missed my old friends less and less. I never forgot them, but I was a self-obsessed teenager. And, I was obsessed with finding my place. After a failed attempt at finding my place in theater (Did you know that you can be cut from a high school musical chorus if you're bad enough? Cause, you can.), I managed to make friends through my honors classes and high school paper. You know, the way all the cool people have found each other throughout the ages. I made new friends, then I graduated and decided to attend college at the University of Kansas. Thus ensuring my life in Kansas for all perpetuity.

Well, fast-forward more than 20 years (oh my god, I can't believe I just wrote that number), and I'm sitting in my suburban Kansas house. Up pops a friend request on Facebook from a first and middle, no last name. Usually, these are spam, so I ignore. Then, a message comes through. "Is this the Amy who went to Pine Forest in Fayetteville, NC?"

What?!?! That was me! Turns out, this girl found me after those 20-ahem years. (And, this, my friends, is why I don't take my maiden name off my Facebook profile.) I have not seen her since the day I left North Carolina as that angry 14-year-old girl in the yearbook photo above. We chatted a bit through Facebook. She said she'd thought of me sometimes throughout the years. It was such a pleasant way to start my day.

Sometimes, when you move away and aren't really in touch with anyone from a certain time period of your life, it's almost like that part of your life ceases to exist. You can tell stories about it, but who wants to listen to stories about a time and a place to which they have no connection. Who can stand to listen to you reminisce about that time you didn't make the cheerleading team (are you sensing a pattern in my lack of making anything I try out for?) or when you and your friends hung out together in gym class? If the other person has no connection, it's hard to get anyone to care to even listen. And, if you stop talking about it, it's almost like it didn't happen.

So, to know that somewhere out there, there was someone who cared enough to find out where I was and what I was doing? That's something. And, this week, I needed it.

I had moved and changed everything, but somewhere, someone still remembered me from before.

PS. In case you're wondering, I pulled out my old yearbook to find the picture above and reminisce. I'll give you a list of the clubs that did allow me to participate, and you can judge for yourself just how big of a nerd I really was. Hint: Huge.

Clubs Amy Randolph belonged to in 9th grade:
Spanish Club
Geometry Club
Beta Club
Raiders for Christ

Told ya. Huge Nerd. I guess some things never really change.

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