Dear High School,
You were unbearable.
There, I said it.
After all these years, I still carried with me a small but sharp bitter fruit that became my weakness…and my strength. There were times I dreamt still, of dreading to put on that horrible checkered uniform, and trying to live through the days that went by in a haze, efforts to be accepted, to be welcomed..and yet rejected.
And I would be so relieved when I do wake up within the familiar four corners of my room, to the present me.
My only solace had always been the library, my drawings, the slivers of entertainment of japanese animation and the people who had the time of day to accept my strangeness…but in truth, I rarely let anyone in, most barely even scratched the surface, that even I, the very host of my whole being, is also confounded.
My memories were hazy, as I said in the beginning. I barely recalled anything from you. Not even the most trivial events that occurred. I guess I may have blocked them unconsciously when I finally stepped into college. The only things I remembered were a few of wonderful qualities, of kindness and unique quirks of people that stuck in my mind up to this day.
Like the lovely times with a girl, who headbangs with her long hair that it’s a powerful force of its own, listens to NU 107 from morning to night and became my constant companion to some of our first parties and variety shows at the neighboring boys’ school. She serves the sweetest ice cream that I had ever tasted. Yet ironically, she is solid about everyone getting perfect teeth. She was my strength, which her strong personality overflows and I absorb it. Her laughter infectious and familiar, that chased away the demons sitting on my shoulder.
Or a kind girl who has a mini etch-a-sketch keychain attached to her pencil case, who twirled her pen effortlessly around her thumb and index finger while she reviewed for our exams. She rarely gets cold in our igloo of a classroom, a supernatural feat. I would often nap between classes near her table, beneath the schoolbags and the space by the wall, her presence often a comfort. She has always been nice to me, and even if I may not say it so much, I value her friendship a lot. Her aura is calm and I am naturally drawn to her.
A small group of friends, who were a batch lower than me, every time I remember them, I smell the newly cut grass, the hot yellow sun and the blue, blue skies. They once, took the effort to throw me a small party (it could be a birthday or a going away party because I was on my senior year..see what I mean for hazy memories). They even gave me a small star pendant made of murano glass…which I still kept to this day. It was wonderful. And even if it’s a little late, I am grateful and thankful for that act of kindness and wonderful camaraderie that was given and received. It made my last years in High School bearable
In my travels, in my present life struggles….and even in the things I love to do, these memories stuck with me. regardless of what 70% of my life spent with you had been hell. It’s a story that is all too painful, all too familiar, which intensified to today’s youth. And had already claimed so many young lives. A Sad Reality.
But it is true, so true, when they say that kindness can go a long way, because it really does. The people who do matter are the people who had come to accept, to mature and to value. Who are not fleeting, petty and looks through the world without judgement or ill will.
But the small bitter fruit is still in me, and I still carry it in my heart. And no matter what my mother and a few of my close friends would tell me to let it go, I will say it today that I cannot. And I will not. For while it may be my weakness, it is also my strength. The path I chose since I graduated made me who I am today and it made me stronger. The bitterness I tasted from those years kept me aware, kept me going, kept me hungry and kept me learning.
However, beneath all that, you gifted me with foundation to sought wisdom, to make life choices that are long term, to be emphatic and sympathetic. To love without fail and to wish no ill to others. And in the times of darkness, I knew from the very bottom of my heart even then, even just a flicker, that things will get better.
And I would be forever grateful to my friend, a half cherokee native american who taught me early on to find strength within when all is lost.
So, while I may not go to the Grand Alumni reunion anytime soon, I do hope and pray that the kids over there can find the strength and the love they can get. I hope that you are their protector, their home away from home, and assure them that there is life beyond the pristine white walls, the constant yearning for acceptance and Mang Baguio. It is not all about the money, or the family pedigree, but the growth of the child, and with so many suicides from children today, I wondered if there is hope left to an institution like you.
I hope I am wrong. Please prove me wrong if you must.
For now, perhaps when the bitterness has toned down in time, and when my life has complete its full circle, then I will come back.
From a Life Student,