Friday, October 10, 2014

NPHS: Senior Year

(If you're just joining us, the beginning of the series starts here. Thanks for reading!)

In August of 2000 I started my first year at a school where I knew most of the people, but I had not been in school with them since junior high. I had no idea what to expect. I worried that the gossiping and yuck that I left off with in ninth grade would just pick back up, and after my junior year I really did not want or need that.

I enrolled in classes and was excited immediately because my Sunday school teacher, Mr. Ralph (I called him Ralphie) was a teacher at my school. I also found out that my former assistant principal at Mills, Mr. Price, was the principal at North Pulaski. I truly loved and respected Mr. Price and was excited to be in school with him again.

I enrolled, fearfully, in two AP classes at NP: AP English and AP Statistics. I was not hopeful about either because I still felt like I must be a complete idiot academically and had just deceived people for years, but I thought the weighted grade would hopefully help my GPA some. Summer reading was always a requirement for AP classes and I was behind on that because I enrolled so late. So I had a friend who I had known for years and was also enrolled in that class help get me going: D. I remember driving to his house not long before school started to compare notes about the books we were supposed to read and I was a nervous wreck. I hadn't been around him in over a year and I didn't know what that would be like. I was pleasantly surprised that he was kind and real and it wasn't awkward at all. I also found myself looking at him and realizing that my heart didn't beat fast and I didn't feel the longing that I had felt for so long. Huge relief came over me. We talked some about the past year and the subject of the rumors about me came up. He knew about them, but gave me the opportunity to share my story. I was so grateful that he didn't think ill of me and it gave me hope that maybe no one else at NP did either. For the first time in years, I had hope that I could move on to life after D and that maybe we could even be friends without it causing me pain. I also was confident that I had at least one friend at NP and that meant a lot to me.

We did not have a strict dress code at Mills and most everyone dressed pretty conservatively. I expected this to be true at NP and the first day of school I wore shorts. Well, immediately (probably to make an example of me), Mr. Price and the assistant principal came up to me in the cafeteria--on the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL-- and told me my shorts were too short. I was basically threatened with detention on the first day, five minutes after arriving. I had never had d-hall in my life and I wasn't about to start. The first bell hadn't rung yet and I asked D if he would mind driving me home to change. I was so embarrassed!

My dad sold my blue Cavalier right before school started and I was going to inherit my mom's Toyota Camry within a few weeks of school starting. I was sad to let my car go, but Mom's car was paid for and I was just blessed to have a car.

Some of my senior pictures
I still had big hair. Have still. It's just part of me.

Family picture. That's my Tippy dog. I'll be honest that she is not the sharpest tool. God love her. She spent most of that photo shoot peeing on everything she could. Sorry photographer people.

I was really surprised that I liked all of my classes right away. I did not take a science class that year because I had all my credits. Truthfully I didn't have to go to school all day, I could have opted to do half day school and work the other half. The only class I needed to graduate was English and a semester of PE. But I still had scholarships on the brain and was determined to finish well.

I was so nervous about English, but I could tell right away I was going to love Mrs. Whitaker's class. She was so down to Earth and knew her stuff. I remember I submitted my first paper assuming I was going to make a C like I did all year in 11th grade, and got the paper back with an A on it and a massive dose of encouragement. I actually went to Mrs. Whitaker crying like, "Are you sure? Did you confuse my paper with someone else's?" and she told me no, that it was wonderful. And she called me a writer. I will never forget that as long as I live. Mrs. Whitaker restored to me what was broken and truly changed the trajectory of my life. I began to think I was good at writing again and could maybe make something of that in my future.

AP Statistics was another class I was so worried about. I knew I needed to be better at math but I had several teachers who either didn't care to help me or who always taught way over my head. I found that I love Stats, as we called it. For the first time math made sense! I was dealing in real numbers instead of crazy calculus equations and it made practical sense to me!

Oh PE. I dreaded that class because I was not an athletic person and I was mortified that I would embarrass myself. Our coach/teacher was hilarious though. Rarely did he make us do any actual exercise. He had really funny warm ups for us though: cherry pickers. We would bend over and touch the floor and count 1, 2, 3 and clap. I don't know why that was a cherry picker, but whatever. Well my friend Kyle Hamsher stood next to me in line up, and every day that dude had me laughing so hard I couldn't do anything else. When we would do cherry pickers, he would bend over and make fart sounds that were so real everyone believed it. Then when we would run the gym, fart noises. Kyle made that class bearable for me.

One thing that was missing was student council. I had sort of committed to myself to be on student council all the way through those years, but since I left Mills, I left that behind. Student council was a big deal at NP and they even held it as a class period. I knew the student council president, and D and some other friends were on the council, so I asked if maybe they might let me run for the council or transfer my membership or something. I met with the sponsors and the council and pleaded my case and they voted to decide if I could be part. Graciously they let me in. I was amazed and so grateful. It was nice to feel part of something and to know that at least I could put that on my college resume.

The first dance of the school year, I invited this guy who I knew through church. He had dated one of my friends there for a while but they had recently broken up and he had started talking to me. I had to serve with student council that night so I didn't get to dance a lot, but we did dance some. I felt like he was moving a little fast for me with the way he was dancing with me and he tried to kiss me a couple of times. I just thought we would call it a night and the next day I would tell him I wasn't into him that way. I had driven us and when I dropped him off at his house, he kind of lunged for me. He started kissing me and backed me up against the car and started feeling me up and trying to undo my clothes. I was really confused by what was happening and I started trying to push him away but he continued to be aggressive. I began to panic a little and then his front porch light turned on and his mom came out. He went inside and I got in the car and my heart was pounding. I realized that if his mom hadn't come out, there is a very real chance he would have tried to rape me. I cried all the way home because I felt violated and confused and was trying to understand if I had made him think I wanted that or something. And honestly I wondered if he had heard the rumors about me and thought I was "that kind of girl" so he thought I would want to do that? Or that he could take advantage of me? It was awful. I remember telling him that that was not okay and I did not talk to him again after that and made sure to tell other friends who knew him what had happened.

Even though I knew people and was on student council, I still had kind of a hard time trying to figure out where I fit in. I felt like people were welcoming, but I still had to do this "Hey can I sit with you?" thing at lunch. One day I was eating lunch and this handsome, dark haired guy came and sat down. I knew that he had not gone to NWJH with us, but I didn't know much about him. As time went on, I began to try to look for him throughout the day. I knew he played football and I asked around about him. One night I got invited to a movie with some friends and he happened to be there: we'll call him BC. We sat beside each other and there was this awkwardness that was palpable. We were into each other. Finally we held hands and when we left, he asked for my number. We started dating soon after that.

BC was an Army kid and lived on base. His mom was Korean and was a force to be reckoned with. She made the best fried rice I have ever had. BC was a solid Christian and I felt like we were on the same page. I wanted to take things slow because I hadn't had a serious relationship that turned out well in a long time. He knew my story, but he began to fall hard for me. I really liked him a lot, and then began to love him, but I always felt like he was yards in front of me in the seriousness of our relationship. I was thinking realistically about graduation and college, and BC was a year younger than me and I didn't know how that would work with me being in college and him in high school. I still had no healthy paradigm for relationships. Most teenagers don't, but I feel like I get it now and wish someone would have told me then: relationships with no purpose always lead to heartache. Even then I felt like that might be our story, but I didn't really know what to do about it. He was my best friend and I enjoyed being together, but I didn't know what the future held and that worried me.

Homecoming season came and student council worked to make it awesome. For the first time in my entire life I made the homecoming ballot. I was totally shocked and honored by that, even though I didn't make the court.

Homecomng scrapbook pages

My year was going really well. I enjoyed all my classes. I had a class called EAST, that was taught by Mr. Dozier (don't hate me Dozier for this picture. It's all I've got!) and we all had a lot of freedom to explore technology and spend time doing the things we wanted to do in that class. I basically became Dozer's pet and because I was good at organizing, that became my job. I organized the mess out of that EAST classroom. I played around with Powerpoint and other Microsoft products. But mostly, I made order out of chaos in that place.
Love you Dozier!

 My 18th birthday approached and I told my family I wanted something simple but celebratory because it was a big birthday. It seemed like Brandon was just going to take me out to eat, and when I walked into the restaurant, a bunch of my friends and family were there to greet me. He and my parents threw me a surprise party. It was such a sweet surprise and I felt really loved.

My crew girls: Casey, Tangie, Alicia, and me. Exactly as it should have been on my 18th birthday

I decided to apply to a few in state colleges. I had taken the ACT five times and could not get over a 23. I was never a good test taker. I always said if you had given me the ACT in essay format, I would have nailed it. I had gotten my GPA up to a 3.5 and I did have a lot of extra-curriculars for my resume, so it looked good. I also had excellent letters of recommendation. I knew I wasn't going to be rolling in scholarship dough like some people, but I thought I could get something worthwhile. I applied to U of A, UCA, and UALR. U of A is where I really wanted to go. I wanted to be a Razorback. I liked the idea of moving a few hours from home. I was accepted, but they were only going to offer me $500 a semester. But then I got word from UALR: I had received the Chancellor's Leadership scholarship. This was a full tuition, fees, and a book stipend deal. I knew I would be a fool to turn it down, so I decided to live at home and go to school for free.

 BC decided at some point in the year to have our initials engraved on the inside of his class ring. I warned him against this. His mom warned him against this. But he was very bull headed and did it anyway. I saw in BC what I saw in myself in ninth grade: someone with a lot of life ahead of them who has fallen in love and is planning their future. I wasn't ready to do that again because I knew how much hurt it caused me, but I didn't know how to keep him from doing the same. Also he began to get jealous in small, but concerning ways. He would ask me why I wore certain things because they made boys look at me. He wanted to know why I wore makeup or felt like I needed to look a certain way when we left to go somewhere. He was probably justified about some of that, but I know compared to most girls I was a minimalist. So I began to get a little resentful at his protectiveness. We started to fight some. I remember getting sick sometime in the spring and missed a whole week of school and I felt like he completely didn't care. I was still having some health issues with my endometriosis and I was dealing with a lot of exhaustion from that. I literally spent almost that whole week just sleeping.

As senior prom approached, I was excited. I was determined to have fun and end the year well. I found the perfect dress (that I hated as soon as the night started and have hated since. I don't know why I picked that dress. It's the only one of my dresses I hated.)


Senior Prom. I have many more pictures than this but I don't want to overdo it. Ha!

The end of school came quickly after that...
Mrs. Whitaker's AP Lit class. Such a great class. Love you Mrs. Whitaker!

The day of graduation

Our whole class

I broke up with BC not long after graduation. I just knew I was delaying the inevitable. I truly cared for him, but I didn't want to lead him on and I had no idea if he was "the one" or not. I needed to keep seeking to find that out.

After graduation I was hired as the Youth Intern for the summer at our church. I worked at the church all summer as the assistant to our youth pastor. I went to church camp as a counselor with our elementary kids. I was still making some questionable/rebellious choices in dating relationships at this point and I'm humbled that I had this ministry job. Broken really. I pray I did not lead people astray at that point in my life.

My last year at Mfuge camp

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