If Life Was Like Wood Shop Class

Remember in high school when you had math class, and English class, and chemistry? Okay, now that I’ve brought up those painful memories, I’m going to bring up some more. Remember art class? Home Ec (which is now referred to as something more politically correct)? And finally, wood shop? Bring up anything in the way of fuzzy feelings?

I didn’t think so.

Wood shop was especially torturous for me. Creating things with my hands was just beyond my physical and mental faculties. I was all, how am I supposed to shape this amorphous block into a fine, handcrafted clock? And really, what high school student could? It wasn’t like anyone was sitting with their father or mother, or even legal guardian, on the weekends in the garage, carving a totem pole while they listened to the oldies on the radio. And even if some people were, could that really translate into an acute skill that would allow you to make a wood craft after six weeks of being in the class? Heck, we learned how to sand things for two weeks!

But the fact that I was unable to do many of the things I was asked to do was completely lost on my wood shop teacher. Sure, there were some young ladies in my class who simply were afraid of the great big scary machines, which meant that my teacher had to step in and do the work for them. Drill the holes and sand it down, while they watched.

And then, there were people like me who simply wanted the final product to look good, so I allowed my teacher to think I was afraid of the big scary machines, and he would do it for me. And whatever I (he) made, came out looking great.

Right now, I wish life was like wood shop class.

I wish there was someone to step in when things seem scary. I wish there was someone I could call on when I’m not quite sure how to proceed. And especially, I wish there was someone to take over to make things look perfect and good. (Instead of the crazy mess I sometimes leave when trying to figure out my life.)

But no matter how much I still have painful flashbacks about the class, life isn’t like wood shop. There’s no one to help you to get it right and even less people when you get it wrong.

And besides, life has never been about creating something perfect. You just have to trust yourself to create something beautiful and hope that you don’t cut your finger off in the process. And you gotta do it all by yourself. Because in the end, you’ll be prouder of the things you tried to do than the things you actually accomplished with someone else’s help.

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.