Thursday, April 14, 2011

High School is Never Over


So I've been thinking lately and it's led me down a few anxious roads.

It's wedding season and some of my favorite people are getting married and/or coupling up. This, as the selfish person that I am, has me feeling like a baboon with the exposed Red Bottom of Singlehood like a single thing.

I was mentally reviewing all the wedding dates, planning outfits, gift shopping trips, traveling schedules etc and it occurred to me that there was a wedding that I really don't want to go to because everyone I've ever known will be there.

Let me explain-

As some of you may know, I grew up in Pasadena. I love this fact about me. I consider it one of the best gifts my parents gave me. It is an amazing cultural center of a small city with serious history all within spitting distance LA's wonderfulness. It also provided one of the finest social educations a girl could ask for part of which being how harsh and enduring Elitism is.

See - there is A LOT of money in Pasadena. Like old money. Old, established, fox hunting kind of money. We grew up in a pretty nice part of town but in the super run-down house built in 1910 that still had the original wiring that hadn't been cared for. I loved it to pieces but we were a living "One Of These Things is Not Like The Other" segment from Sesame Street. My neighbor behind us owned horses that she kept in a stable along side their free-standing spa in their back yard and I loved those too. The people I went to church with regularly hosted large Stake Youth activities at their houses, because, well, we fit and they had a nicer lawn than the stake center.

Church, for the most part, in all doctrinal aspects was superb. I was surrounded by some of the most gracious excellent people a girl could hope for. I loved my bishop. He was one of the kindest and best of men. He knew who I was. He always came and said hello. He always had time for me. He even came to Girls Camp for the whole week without permission because he wanted to care for and be with his kids as he called us. However, there were a few bits of Elitism that managed to sneak in the cracks of my very good life.

One of them was not my bishop, but the rest of his family. His wife was the high voiced, tightly coiffed blond "BYU Princess" as my mother put it even though she went somewhere else for college. She was an avid crafter - the "I'm better than you crafter", kept a LARGE and perfectly wood plaqued, polished, dusted, and vacuumed home and was the mother of a few boys. She loved this fact. A lot.

A few of these boys were close in age with me. They were roosters of the worst kind. Privileged and educated boys that, from where I observed, were not really reigned at all. When I first learned about the historic Medici family I perfectly understood because of my interactions with my hometown Medicis. My older brother acquired his first playboy magazine at the hands of one of these boys and I received my first lesson in Elitism from the other.

We were sparse on LDS dating prospects in Pasadena. There were only 7 members of the church in my high school and I was the only one in my high school class. The other 20 kids in mutual were about all we had. So it was the Medici and a few others and that was my young impressionable view of the world of dating.

There was one awkward summer during an awkward roadshow where one of the Medici boys made a pass at me. Nothing big, just a wink and a head-jerk invitation to one of the classrooms off stage. Killer romantic, I know. But seriously - who could blame him? I was flatterd but more confused because just the other week I had heard his mother talking in the hallway to someone else after Relief Society saying "Well Liz is sweet but she wouldn't do for any of my boys. I think I like (fill in boring but skinny Anglo socialite girl's name who was the same age, grade, and hair color as me but who came from a much wealthier background and went to an expensive private school here) much better."

I don't know if she was aware I was 3 people away from her waiting for my younger brothers to get out of Primary and wanted me to know that she didn't approve of me or if she thought she was speaking in confidence but there you go. That's how she felt and the things you learn in hallways at 15 stay with you.

So fast forward to random pick up during roadshow practice and my utter confusion. I did what any normal 15 year old would do that's read one too many fairy tales - I completely froze. This was interpreted by him as a refusal, which I suppose it was. I wasn't going to brave Mama Medici's wrath. I'd bring my whole world down on me. He reacted very differently than I thought. He got very hurt, butt hurt, flouncy even for the rest of the bloody show and summer (the words "man up" still come to mind). We were never friends or had a real conversation after that summer. Can't say I'm too broken up about it but now I'm doubly vilified by Mama Medici because I've HURT her boy along with not being good enough for him. This was made known through another set of passive aggressive wonders and painfully measured looks.

I'll concede, I did have kind eyes for this one Medici boy and we did go to the same school but, like always, moved in very different circles. I had hoped that maybe, perhaps, things would line up for us but I was so blindsided by all of this I didn't know what to do with it. I was 15! I was in love with Morissey and Kurdt Cobain and being different in the good way. I had NO idea how to navigate something like this and I was already aware that Mama Medici and my mom didn't get on so well (big surprise there) so I just never mentioned it. To anyone. Ever. I didn't want to cause any more trouble. I was already buckling under the knowledge that there were people I was supposed to love and trust in the world that aggressivly criticized and disapproved of me and if I was ever to be approved of I had to have the checklist of boring-but-skinny-Anglo-socialite-girl-with-money-who-went-to-the-fancy-school and I spent hours on the floor of my room crying about that because there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Needless to say - I'm still of a split mind on the Medici family. I love love love my bishop and he still remains one of the best people I've ever known but I find the rest of the family a challenge.

Because the universe likes to watch me squirm I learned that this family moved from Pasadena shortly after we did to a very similar area to where we did and are still in my semi-immediate circle of influence. Their youngest son is getting married soon and it's his wedding I'm dreading.

One - because his brothers will be there with their perfectly coiffed wives and litters of, no doubt, beautiful kids and grad degrees and measure looks

Two - because everyone else in that ward that I grew up with in Pasadena still lives there and knows this family very well. These people are very real parental figures to me, are my proverbial village and who I love, idolize, and want with everything in my heart to impress and approve of me. They will be there and I feel terrifyingly lacking. I feel like I've let them down by not being a published author, mother of 4 married to a Nobel candidate/part-time stunt man and am working on a home business line of Homemaker Fitness videos w dietary supplements because I'm an avid triathlete that volunteers with my local Search and Rescue and am putting the finishing touches on my dissertation on C.S. Lewis.

Three - obviously - because I'm still single. I don't mind being overweight and seeing everyone.They all know I was never the ballerina type. That doesn't feel as large of a failing to me as being single. I think I would honestly prefer to walk in there with a known criminal record than walk in alone.

This fact has me of a split mind as well. Half of me, the vocal Feminist/XenaLiz is appalled that I would let myself determine my value based on my marital status. She tells me that it doesn't matter, that these people are just people and can only affect me if I let them. She's flummoxed that I haven't bucked the 30 years of social programming telling me that the best person I can be is who I would be in a marriage and I am still semi-developed and thereby semi-valued without it.

The other half, the tattered half, the one that's holding the pieces of my excitable heart together with both hands, a few toes and some string is very tired. Too tired to speak in anything that she doesn't know to be true because that takes the least amount of effort. She says that it is a fact that I'm not married and there's little chance of that changing in the next few weeks. She also points out that I haven't even received an invitation yet so all this fretting might be for naught.

I've done pretty good with my discount shoes, second hand books and public education and lets be real, frankly I need to forgive all mentioned parties. It's just hard when these harsh ideas, memories of measured and disapproving looks, critical conversations, and unwanted lables are all embedded in the cement of my subconscious with their spiky ends sticking out.

I don't know why this is surfacing now and I don't know what other issues may have played into Mama Medici's behavior besides her utter disregard for me and my family. I don't know why my love for my friend and his marital happiness is being superseded by my anxiousness about being judged and letting people down that I love but I do know one thing - there is no way in hell I'm going to that wedding.