Thursday Night Lights

My dad took me back to my alma mater to watch some of the football game tonight.

Let me explain why this is significant.

I live in a small town. (Don’t we all?) But I live in a “you will see everyone you know at a football game because everyone goes to every game” small town. (I didn’t see anyone I knew tonight, per se, which I can thank my lucky stars for.)

But it feels like every time I return to see a football game, I am a little bit further along in my life. And, thankfully, that means I’m always a little bit further removed from my high school experience. Which means I can walk through the gates without wrinkling my nose like I’ve smelled something horrible. Well, sort of.

I still have some sort of visceral reaction to the whole scene. The tiny munchkins that are supposed to be high school students (I don’t believe it.), the cheerleaders that only seem to multiply while the football players dwindle, and the cold iciness of the unforgiving bleachers. Let me tell you, it wasn’t my seat that was making me shudder.

As you can probably imagine, I wasn’t the football game watching type in high school. The only reason I would go to a football game was because my boyfriend played (for five seconds, maybe) and because I volunteered at the snack bar. What can I say? I like to help, and I like food. And I can’t stand football. I actually can’t stand the whole small town, Friday night lights culture.

But going back there tonight…

Nope. I felt the exact, same way. I felt like I was in high school again. No nostalgic reunion, no uplifting remembrance of the golden years. I was even recognized by the lady taking tickets as an alumni. And doesn’t that make you feel small? Like you haven’t gone anywhere. Sure, I haven’t left the town, but it suddenly felt like I had never left school, either.

So, I don’t want to relive my high school career ever again. Like, ever again. And it’s not that my high school experience was especially difficult. But it’s so nice to have all of those hormones and homework in the rearview mirror of my life. And that’s really the takeaway from all of this: even when you think one thing is going be your entire life, one person, one event, one environment, it can change. Actually, it probably will change. And like I said last night, that can be a great thing. But also revisiting a place where you once called home can make you eternally grateful for what you have, even if you don’t have a lot.

I hear you either love or hate your high school experience. Personally, I don’t feel that strongly about it. But the older I get, the more I can look on it with a certain fondness. Sort of.

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