Tales Of a High School Nothing!
I was recently invited to attend my high school's 30th reunion. Initially, I was excited and thought of how cool it would be to go, but as time drew close, I slowly began to have anxiety. High school could have been a better experience than many others. A single mother raised me, and we lived in a suburb, and my mom could not afford all the name brands; we shopped at Kmart. So, between my fashionista sister and my best friend, I sometimes had nice things; otherwise, I would have looked like a mess. The first two years of high school were a blur because the popular kids (cheerleaders, athletes, and rich) were all that seemed to matter at Ocean Township High School.
I was exposed to what privilege was due to money and its power over those in this community. I was trying to find where I fit in—the black girl with no real sense of style and no big home with a pool or a luxury car. My mom was a nurse, and we lived in a one-bedroom apartment. She converted the dining room into my bedroom, had a futon and tv, and drove a Ford Escort. So, by junior year, when my peers for planning their college aspirations, I enrolled in vocational school because my mother told me she didn't have the money to send me to college. Did I want to go to college? Yes, I wanted an escape, but I could not afford it, nor did my guidance counselor suggest student loans or grants, nor did I know they existed because the kids in my school never mentioned that; my naivety led me to believe their parents had these college funds they would use.
So once in vocational for Cosmetology, it was a new experience, and afternoons spent at another school with kids that looked like me in an urban district and the respite I needed. My teacher, Ms. Weber, told me she did not see me working in a salon but speaking at different events about the business. Upon graduation, I was excited, but that was short-lived when my mom put me on punishment for sticking my middle finger up at my sister, and my car had a flat tire that I had no money to repair, so after graduation, I just came home and watched BET until I fell asleep; lack of friends made what was supposed to be the best day of my life into a nightmare. I was falling into a depression but pretended that everything was fine.
Sure, I had associates that signed my yearbook, but the truth was, I wasn't going to see these people again or even talk to them. Over the next ten years, I had a son who would make me grow up and show unconditional love. I was happy, and life seemed suitable for me, so when the ten-year reunion notice came, I was excited to see what everyone had been up to. I saw a lot of familiar faces but no real connections with my former classmates. Over the next ten years, I didn't speak to any classmates except for a few on Facebook. I didn't attend the next reunion as I was in the Bahamas vacationing. This thirty-year reunion was something I was looking forward to. Still, truthfully, I was only Facebook friends with a small handful of former classmates because they seemed authentic and had since matured and not the shit that the others were on.
I was mistaken because a few of them removed themselves from my Facebook, which was good because there was no need to be phony. Others I deleted during the Trump/Biden election as the racist comments were very, very offensive.
Some of those people made high school miserable for me, and others were either dead of overdoses or suicide, alcoholics, anorexic/ bulimic, bums, or just trying to forget those four years at OTHS. You can see the divide even in the senior class pic with us all on the bleachers.
So yet again, that feeling of not being part of something crept in again along with this white privilege that came with it as well. I saw this same town praise a high school quarterback as he was leading his team to victories. Still, one night on Halloween, he was with the wrong people as he was roped into something so unnecessary. Still, authorities always wanted to make an example. I witnessed my nephew go from a fan favorite to an outsider as the OTHS cult did what they usually do, turn their noses up at you if you did not fit into what they deemed acceptable. Not trying to turn this into a race issue, but if you take fifty black kids from Ocean and ask them if they were ever discriminated against, they all will say yes.
So as the Instagram RSVPs were posted, I was quickly reminded why high school wasn't favorable for me. The same people who ignored me were part of the planning committee, and the only people making decisions were those same people.
I was never asked to participate in the planning or anyone on my social media; they just wanted me to pay $65 to mingle amongst those who had never acknowledged me. No one ever even said hello! How are you? What's new? Just click a link and join them. It almost came off like they were trying to meet a quota. I saw in the Instagram lives and pics, and it immediately took me back to 1993, and even thirty years later, that entitlement and privilege still reigned supreme, leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Those who did not experience what I mentioned would tell another story that high school was great, and if I had a big house, lots of friends, and a college fund, I would also view it differently.
Today, I work in Behavioral Health while juggling my entrepreneur side as a best-selling author, podcast host, and blogger who is articulate and not one to bite my tongue, so there was no need to attend the reunion at a bar in a town known for pulling black people over because as soon as someone came out the mouth wrong, they would be cussed out because 1993 Kisha and 2023 Kisha are two very different people.
If there were a reintroduction to these people to make one feel comfortable, that would be nice, or even keeping in touch. I'm not writing this to belittle the efforts made to reunite classmates but to bring light and acknowledge that everyone did not have that great experience q at OTHS.
Thank goodness social media was not out when I was in high school because there would have been many more suicides and kids in therapy due to the pending depression. The females were all confused because they, too, wanted so badly to fit in, so the eating disorder trend was already a thing. I'm sure people have different experiences, but I wanted to share my experience and see if anyone felt the same.
Interestingly enough, I raised my four children in Ocean with the house, the pool, and the luxury car, and they all graduated from there as well, but it didn't matter if I had the biggest house on the block in Wayside; I was still a ________ Even though my husband and I worked hard to provide for them so that they did not have to feel what I felt. So again, pay $65 to see former classmates at a bar drink too much, act a fool, or ignore me because they didn't think I was worthy of getting to know me thirty years ago, the same way it was at the ten-year reunion, so they weren't trying to get to know me today? #MakeItMakeSense