Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giving Arts a Chance: Junior year

So we moved from Nebraska back  to Indiana.  The place that is home, but not mine.  My mother's family has lived in Indiana since at least 1920.   My father's side of the family has been on the Indiana/Ohio border for about 200 years.

Mom grew up visiting her grandmother on Sundays, and playing with her cousins regularly.  I was lucky to see my grandparents once a year, and my cousins less than that.

We moved to a small town in northwestern Indiana.  Starke County, just north of Pulaski County.

I don't recall registering for classes, so I am guessing my parents registered me.  I'm not sure why I didn't take band that year.  Did I consciously choose not to?  Did they simply forget to sign me up?  Or did it have activity fees that they balked at?  It might not have fit the schedule that I had.  Regardless, I didn't take band.

Classes were not challenging.  There was rarely homework, and if there was, it was usually easy.  The only student I knew was my sister, a Freshman.  I walked into school the first day, and everyone was gathering in the cafeteria/auditorium until classes began.  Before I could join them, I had to stop at the teller and pick up a lunch ticket.  Not buy, even at reduced-price.  Just pick up.

I found a table and sat down.  Nobody sat with me.  The other chairs were pulled away so people could sit with their friends.  We had literally arrived in town over the weekend, and started school on Monday.  My classmates in Nebraska had another week before classes started.

Dad had a job, Mom didn't.  Or perhaps I should say, Mom's job was to take care of Hi-Tek.  And herself, since our youngest brother was on the way.

My classmates talked about me, in Honors English.  My grades were so high, I would clearly be the Valedictorian if I stayed my senior year.  They tried not including my Religion grades, but that just brought my GPA up.

In order to meet people and keep busy, I got involved in a lot of extracurricular activities.  Science Club, Math Klub, Spell Bowl, Science Olympiad, Academic Decathlon, and Drama Club.  I don't recall hearing about any speech or debate teams at this school, I'm not sure if I would have continued competing if they did.

I showed up for the Drama Club meeting, and the first order of business was electing officers for the year.  I volunteered to run for Treasurer, not expecting to get elected.  However, most of the students had not brought pens or pencils to the meeting.  I had writing utensils to spare, so I lent them out.   That, apparently, was enough to get elected.

In September, the Math Klub did a cookout at the town park.  I went, and brought my sister.  I was on the swings when some of the senior guys started talking about playing football.  I don't remember how we got into that, but I guess either I or my sister asked to play.  They told us "girls can't play football."  (I didn't say it, but Mercy's P.E. classes had included a section on Flag Football, and we were tested on the rules.)  We begged to differ.  They were afraid we would get hurt.

My sister and I challenged them to a game, and at least one of the senior girls joined us.  I got the first tackle of the game.  My sister scored the first goal.  And then I guess they realized we were serious, because then the boys team won.  I think we may have played another game, with mixed teams.

(I usually heard "comrade" rather than "father.")

But that was a moment of realization for me, about why I had fought so hard to stay at Mercy.  About the box that this "real world" was going to try and stuff me into.  Because I am just not into a lot of "girl things."  I never liked pink.  I did like dolls, and I used to pretend to breastfeed my teddy bear when I was little.  But I also liked to climb trees, and run around.

But I also asked for Legos and model spaceships for Christmas.  Several times.  At the top of my wish list, numbered "1," circled and starred.  My parents did buy science fiction books for me, but not the hands-on toys.  One year, when I was interested in a footlocker trunk to help keep my things safe from rampaging brothers, Mom decided it was time for me to have a hope chest.  So I got a trunk, with a set of dishes inside, dishes I wouldn't need for another ~6 years or so.

Mercy was, intentionally, a place for a girl to be herself, to find herself.

This high school was larger than Mercy.  I believe I went from a class of 60-75 girls to one with 90-110 students.  (When I found out that my husband's class at Warren Central had ~1000 students!!!!  I cannot imagine.)

Theater was more popular at Mercy, than here.  Both Alice and Godspell had large casts, all Mercy students.  The drama club at this public school was small, perhaps a dozen students.  I think our plays had a cast of ~20 or so.

I don't recall what play we did in the fall.  It was about a family living in a cabin out in the woods.  The lead boy was into this star, who came  to visit him.
I auditioned, and got the role of the annoying girl next door, that the neighbors all thought would marry the lead .  But he didn't want her, and his star comes to visit and they fall in love instead.
My family came to watch this play, it went all right.  It was something to do, and it got me out of the house.

In the spring, we performed "You Can't Take it With You."  I was cast as Boris Kolenkhov.  I don't remember if we tried changing the name or the pronouns.  It sort of just, worked.  Unfortunately, this was before I studied Russian.  We did have a foreign exchange student from Russia that year, Olga, but I didn't talk with her enough to figure out the accent.

I asked my family if they were coming, if at least my sister could come.  None of them came to a single show.  Not opening night, not a matinee, not closing night.  It was so frustrating.  My parents have always talked the talk about being a family that supports each other, is there for each other.  By then Hi-Tek was 1, and our youngest brother was only a few months old.  I understood that maybe someone would need to stay home with the babies.  But surely somebody could have spared a couple of hours.

The only other artistic thing I did this year, was to sing with the choir at church.

One of the guys at school, a senior, did actually ask me out.  I didn't have anything else to do, so I said yes.  I remember we had a date at one of the school basketball games.  It might have been a playoff.  All I can say is, high school basketball is HUGE in Indiana.  It looked like the end of Field of Dreams, with all the cars lined up to attend the game.

We discussed going to prom.  Had I still been in Omaha, I would have known the thrift stores to go to and find a dress.  I would have had friends to help me figure out what looked good or not.  But we weren't, and I didn't.  My parents suggested we do pizza and the dance.

Then my father's contract was not renewed.  We would move again over the summer.  Mom had arranged for me to spend the summer with an aunt & uncle in Oceanside, California, house-sitting while they looked at another property.

I broke up with him, and we didn't go to prom.