High School Is Everyone’s Forever Ago

MBS Vintage 1985

It’s been an interesting weekend. My wife and I made a work trip (for her work) to Amherst, MA. On Friday night we cut the trip in half by staying at my mother’s house, the home in which I spent the better part of my childhood. I hadn’t been in Wethersfield, CT for a few years and it’s always weird to drive through. I both expect to run into the same people I went to high school with, and marvel at how the places I spent so much time inhabiting in my youth were gone (no more Carvel, Caldor, Leo’s Pizza, and many other locales I associate with that time).

At the house, I braved a trip up into the attic with the intention of finding a number of items to bring back to my 5 year old son and 3 year old daughter – old kids books, Legos, a shell collection, a marble collection – and I was successful. But rummaging through old stuff leads to interesting finds. Like a collection of notes passed between myself and others in pre-calculus class. One of them describes how I would not be able to go to a friends house because I was to take my driving test that day. Yes my driving test! One of those momentous events of youth, getting my first license was captured on a little slip of paper and I somehow saved it (too be posted later).

Between EB and I during Pre-Calc Sophomore Year 1987

And the seemingly obvious feeling I felt was, wow that was so long ago, forever ago. That was the late 1980s.

Many years after those high school days, while pursuing my MFA in Boston, MA, I worked for a moving company part-time to help pay my way. It was exhausting work lifting sleeper sofas and running boxes up flights of stairs, but I loved the time spent driving in trucks.  You could work with people decades older or kids right out of high school. And the time in the cab driving between the on-load and the off-load was usually the only time to release and relax away from stressed out customers wrapped up in anxiety of moving.

We would talk about music, movies, life, and frequently laugh at the generational differences in our tastes – Guns N’ Roses rocked/sucked, etc. During one drive I had described that the 80s seemed like forever ago. But Robert Swift, a good twenty years older than me, let me know that the 80s felt like they were last week. The 80s was the decade of his thirty-something years, mostly spent helping out his sister raise her daughter and caring for his retired father. And it all went by so fast. His niece was suddenly in grade school, his father’s health declined, in “the blink of an eye.”

We talked about this odd differing sense of that time, and what made sense to each of us was that somehow our own “long ago” was that time in high school. We agreed that, “high school is everyone’s forever ago.” All the seemingly momentous changes we’d gone through was a time of great ego and irresponsibility. And the years after happened on a faster clock as personal change seemed to slow down.

There have been subsequent “forever ago” changes in my life – the perfect example being having children. Ask any parent and they’ll describe the time before becoming a father or a mother as absolutely forever ago. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, but your change in your perspective on life is so dramatic when you have your first child that time again slows for the momentous event. I’m sure there will more of these moments, but meanwhile time seems to be picking up the pace again. My son has suddenly started kindergarten, my daughter is speaking full sentences, in what seems like the blink of an eye.



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12 responses to “High School Is Everyone’s Forever Ago”

  1. Jim Groom Avatar

    And you are wearing what was a vintage Steelers jersey in 1985, Bradshaw was retired and I had my own Jack Lambert jersey as well. As to the awesomeness of your post on time, I can;t agree more about the kids, it is nuts how much my time has changed and how many more gray hairs I have gotten after raising having three kids in seven years. I have seen and experienced some amazing things in the last 7 years and there is no question that time changes forever once you start marking it through your kids growth. Horrifying and exhilerating all at once.

    1. mbransons Avatar

      It was hand-me-down from my brother the HUGE Steelers fan – terrible towel, one-for-the-thumb, all that. I’m pretty sure I thought it was the coolest shirt I owned for a good two, three years.

  2. Cheryl Colan Avatar

    Great introduction! Now I want to scrap my video intro plans & dig out the high school notes passed between my best friend and me, in which we’d both carry on the plot of collaborative stories, each adding a new plot twist and then passing the storyline to the other to keep classroom boredom at bay. And my 80s rocker chick photo would make you giggle.

    But I’ll carry on with my own plans as I don’t think I could find that other stuff quickly.

    Bravo. Time and our perception of it are so fluid, but I love the idea that there are these moments where time seems to stand still while something burns into us.

  3. mbransons Avatar

    Please share the photo (if you wish), and let’s find a digital method to do some note passing. Maybe with a shared storify account? Of course the first line will have to be, “It was a dark and stormy night…”

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  5. Lou McGill Avatar

    Lovely post Michael

    My high school days were in the 70s but I think I do have a big hair pic to share – will have a rummage.

    We could revive this flickr group to do collaborative stories…

    I set it up with a flickr pal way back and some moved along nicely. My son (then aged 9 yes 11 months) had a great time on one story…
    we started off with me writing it under my name (normadesmond) and he would speak the story but he then got his own account as knightlloyd and did his own writing himself.
    it was a time when I was trying to build his self esteem and lots of wonderful people contributed and joined the story. Now even that seems forever ago but a time I will never forget.

    I always liked this story – the familiar path
    none of them ever got finished but that didn’t seem to matter

    1. mbransons Avatar

      The point in the story where she remembers being young and wearing painful new shoes at church. That one feels familiar, and equally uncomfortable.

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  7. Cheryl Colan Avatar

    I’m up for trying Storify and or the Flickr account. Both sound great!

  8. Cheryl Colan Avatar

    Oh, and the collaborative note-stories never really got finished either. But I don’t think that was ever the point.

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