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Saturday, June 25, 2011

20 years

It's been 20 years since I graduated from High School. This year two of my nieces and my next door neighbor are graduating. I have been getting caught up in the excitement of their graduation and their university plans. Last night was prom night and all day as I watched the hustle and bustle I was in a bad place in my head.

I had the kids in child care for the day and was supposedly working on stories for the paper but nobody got back to me and I just indulged my ennui.

I watched movies, ate ice cream and felt a pressure in my head that I could not release. I ran on the treadmill and cried; that made me feel a little better. I just couldn't get rid of the badness or figure out why I was feeling that way.

This morning, after reading over the reports on prom on Facebook and looking at everyone's comments about their own prom, I took the dog out for his second walk of the morning. Luckily the kids were still asleep and I had some time to think in the clear but uncommonly cool air of this early summer morning. Half way down the dirt road it hit me; 20 years ago during my graduation, I was miserable. It was the most horrible time in my entire life. No wonder I was feeling so pent up, angry and frustrated. That is just the way I felt 20 years ago.

Most people have happy memories of their High School graduation. That is the way it should be. For others, like me, that time was terribly tumultuous. Looking at the girls in their gowns I wonder at the stress they have been going through these past weeks. Exams, finding a dress, finding a date, etc. What if you have been unsuccessful at these things. It is a lot of stress and pressure to put on people just as they are preparing to leave the nest.

These however were not the factors that were making my life miserable 20 years ago. In March of my graduating year my mother and sister, jointly, kicked me out of the house and sent me away from my school, one of the few that I had actually been in for any length of time. I had actually spent all of my High School years there, and they sent me packing back to my home town in Nova Scotia from Edmonton, Alberta.

Although I had gone to school with the kids in Guysbrough when I was in elementary there was no making up for those lost teen years. I wasn't part of the group. Some kids tried hard to include me; I was thankful to them. I didn't blame the ones who didn't. I was mad at the adults; the ones who had put me in an impossible situation and the ones who seemed to think that I should be fine with it all or on the opposite scale; those that told me that I should not expect to graduate at all that year.

When graduation day came I wanted no part of it. I felt forced to attend by my father and grandmother. Despite threats from school officials that I would have to do another year of High School, because my course credits didn't travel well between Alberta and Nova Scotia, I graduated 6th in my class. Which ticked me off even more. The top five got read out at the graduation ceremony but I just didn't make it. I felt deliberately snubbed. They didn't take my highest grade credits because they just didn't have those subjects in the Nova Scotia curriculum.

At that point I hated the school, hated my home town, hated just about everything.

I was so relieved to start out fresh, just like everyone else, when I went to university in the fall at St. Mary's in Halifax. I loved St. Mary's. It was a comforting place for me.

From St. Mary's I went to Dalhousie although I left in my second year there and headed to Thailand where I went to yet another university and did my MA.

Those bad days seem far away most of the time. I love living here in Guysborough with my kids. I feel it is the best place for them at this time.

I have to say that I am happy the old High School was torn down. I have nothing but bad memories of that place. Now my daughter goes to the school where I went to elementary. And life was good then as it is now.

In those 20 years a lot has happened in my life. Not in my wildest dreams, when I was standing on the stage accepting my high school diploma, would I have thought I would be living here doing a job I love and raising my kids. It's been a long journey and I wouldn't wish the beginning on anyone but it all seems to have worked out.

But clearly, I still have issues.


  1. Nice writing Lois. It is funny how the past can come to grab you in the future.

  2. Lois, I just read this. I have tears in my eyes. I certainly hope I was one of the ones who tried to include you. I too have some miserable memories of some years in our hometown. Mine were earlier, and then later, than your's. But, sometimes something will bring me back, and I feel sad, even sick, inside. I am glad things have turned out so well for you and your brilliant little girls in Guysborough. As I've told you before, I envy the smalltownness of your lives together. So do my kids and husband. Keep on writing!