Tomorrow marks twenty years to the day since our high school graduation. I have always remembered the date: 6/4/94. I even used it as my password for the phone-in class registration tool we used at Davis in the nineties. I would have remembered the date anyway, but that helped cement it in my mind. Every year on that date I remember to think about my high school graduation. Maybe for a minute, maybe for longer, but every year I reflect on the time that’s gone by. And now, damn. Twenty years. In 1990 my mom went to her twentieth high school reunion. I thought she was so old and that twenty years out of high school was such a long time. It doesn’t seem so long now.
I sort of feel like attempting to articulate my feelings about having been out of high school for twenty years is an exercise in futility. Also it’s a bit overdone. I feel like I need to do it anyway, though, because people mark time in milestones like this. And this is a big milestone. High school was an important time for me. I made friends who are still important parts of my life even though we don’t see each other as much as we used to, or as much as we’d like. I learned things that have shaped my career and my hobbies. Some of my fondest memories of my whole life happened in those four years. These days four years is a blink of an eye. Back then, it was a lifetime. When I was seventeen I thought I was an adult, or at least about to be one. At thirty-seven I know I’m still not what I imagined an adult would be when I was seventeen. Is my life exactly as I imagined it would be? No, of course not. But what would have been the fun in that?
And for that matter, what in the heck did I want my life to be when I was seventeen? I wanted to go to medical school. I wanted to finish at Davis and get myself back to San Francisco pronto. I wanted to have a boyfriend, a real one. And I wanted a Golden Retriever. Oh, and I wanted to have a lot of money and a lot of cars and a lot of books. Fast-forward twenty years, and I do have a Golden and I do have a lot of books. But I went to veterinary school, not medical school. I eventually found a boyfriend, which took a lot longer than I was expecting, but which has been the defining relationship of my entire life, except for maybe the one I have with my mom. Probably those two relationships are equally important, now that I think about it. And I haven’t lived in San Francisco since 1994. And now I honestly feel bad for people whose lives end up exactly how they wanted/expected them to be. Those people weren’t open to the possibility of their lives taking an unexpected and wonderful turn, or a few of them. There’s a thing on Facebook that I see every once in a while about how you shouldn’t regret the times things didn’t turn out the way you wanted because you were being pointed in a better direction. I firmly believe that that is true. I’m not saying that a higher power is pointing us in any particular direction (we are a secular blog, after all), nor do I necessarily believe in destiny or anything like that (though it’s a nice idea). But sometimes it’s okay to embrace the possibility of a life beyond what you initially imagined for yourself.
It’s funny. I really thought I could go on and on for pages and pages about what it means to me to have been done with high school for twenty years. Surely when I was about to graduate from high school I could have waxed philosophic for hours about it. I could dig out my old journals to see what I was thinking about around that time, but I’d rather keep seventeen year old Jill buried in my bedside table, thank you very much. Looking back on my adolescence I remember having the highest highs and the lowest lows. Emotionally, I mean. Now I don’t get quite so worked up anymore. And I’m grateful for that on a daily basis. When I was graduating from high school I was scared. Scared to see what was next. I was about to leave home for the first time to go to a school that I considered suboptimal. Suboptimal because they took me. Most of my friends were off to Ivy League schools, or at least to nice private schools. I was about to start at a (gah) public school. A “safety school.” Ultimately going to UC Davis was a turning point. Nothing in my life would be the same now if I had gone somewhere else. I’m sure of that. I wouldn’t have my life any other way than it is right at this moment. I’m sitting on my couch, typing on my laptop. My husband is across from me and we just had mug cakes for dessert. My dog is at my feet. My other dog is wandering around wondering why we aren’t going for a walk. There are like a hundred cats wandering about (six). It’s my Friday, but it’s actually Tuesday. I worked thirty-seven hours in three days. I live in a town that’s a suburb of Davis, California. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Were the four years I spent at St. Ignatius College Preparatory the best years of my life? Hell, no. But I loved them all the same. Despite all the teenage angst I had from thirteen to seventeen it was a wonderful and special time in my life. But it can never, ever top the life I have now. And if the first twenty years since high school went by this fast, I can’t even imagine how fast the next twenty years are going to go.
P.S. That picture up top of me and Bethany was taken on about June 2nd 1994, in the video yearbook office that we all commandeered the last week of our senior year as our official hangout, after sitting in front of the office’s closed and locked door between classes and before classes for a year.