I was excited about the classes I was taking. Especially French! Madame Woner was young and vibrant and made learning a new language fun. I found that I had a knack for language and picked it up quickly. It was also in French class that I met Candace Brown, who would be my very first friend. Candy, as she liked to be called, was tall, beautiful and far more sophisticated than I was. This seemed like a great start.
Other than French, I'd enrolled in the expected classes as a relatively low level since they didn't have my transcripts. Classes like Art, Typing, General Math, Life Science and English 9 rounded out my schedule.
Our campus was open, so off we went to have lunch at nearby restaurants. I rarely had any money, but somehow it always worked out. Off campus was also good because I could get my smoking fix as well. Yes, by this time, I'd been smoking for a full year thanks to Hal and company providing me the means to do so.
That particular habit seemed to land me primarily with the group known as the 'Stoners'. These kids were the ones that enjoyed the hardest rock music they could find, really tight jeans and short skirts and scoring weed when possible. I didn't have any real knowledge of the drug side of it, but I played along as though I did.
For me, thinking about that first year of high school is sort of like remembering a series of impressions. They are many and varied, like photos rolling across the screen. Some of them are clear as day and some are pretty hazy.
- I can still see Madame Woner at the front of the class in her tapered leg jeans using her whole body to describe a concept, earrings swinging beside her smiling face.
- Recoil from the sting of the most popular boy in school asking me if I'd go out with him, only to laugh in my face the moment I accepted while all of his lackies laughed hysterically along with him.
- Recall what it was like to crush my way past all of those bodies through the schools corridors, and even feel the unyielding concrete beneath my feet.
- Hear the art teacher tell me I might want to consider choosing a different class next time as I held my little sculpted jar proudly (I let go of art as a result).
- See myself trying in vain to get the curls from my tiny butane hair curler to stay in my stick straight hair. And how do you spray hairspray on a flaming butane curler and the hair trapped therein? You don't.
- Feel a little sick at the memory of my first kiss with a boy who was after only one thing.
- Spin a bit recalling the first time I got high with my 'friends'.
- Weep at the loss of yet another level of innocence while trying to gain the favor of a young man.
- Wondering if I'd even have the right clothes that would mean I could fit in with all the 'cool' kids. Oh how desperately I wanted them to like me.
- I can still smell the sweaty bodies on my crowded bus, hear the cacophony of laughter, chatting and the popular music blaring from poor speakers while the driver yelled for the next student to exit the bus.
- Shudder at the vision of rats all over me as I tripped on LSD. That was a one time event I can tell you.
- Mourn the loss of a friend who was killed in a tragic car accident.
That first year of high school is an entrance to the real world in a tangible way. You're suddenly forced to be more responsible and there is very little monitoring happening so lots of things happen that your parents would never allow if they knew. That was not so much good for me personally, but it's the reality for lots of kiddos.
That first year was an introduction to drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. I didn't end up falling quite off the deep end, but I can tell you that a significant portion of my regrets as far as my own personal decisions come from that first year of high school.