I transferred from one of the largest magnets in Dallas, Skyline High School, to a small, rural high school in Justin, Texas, Northwest the middle of my freshman year. And while I spent the majority of my time in school being bused to magnets outside my local neighborhood, never before had I come face-to-face with as diverse a school as I found Northwest to be.
Situated between the opulent Trophy Club, and the arid Justin (I'd never even heard of FFA prior to this move) I never understood how some friendships were able to be maintained outside of tight cliques which had formed. While most of them were apparent (jocks, stoners, rich kids, farmer's kids, geeks, etc) and some more subtle (drama club, band, honors) I was always surprised when there were apparently very strong friendships which traversed the cliques. The popular rich-girl cheerleader and the Future dirt-farmer of America. WTF? Why was that? How could I, a well-adjusted and articulate drug-free teenager, not make friends with either group, yet they were able to peacefully coexist?
I used to sometimes wonder if I hadn't missed out by moving around so much when I was younger. We moved no less that 12 times in as many years; mostly in the same school district thankfully, but different neighborhoods; different people; different socio-economic areas. I stopped wondering this after I married my wife and hanging out with her family, all of whom worked and lived in Wichita, grew up in Wichita, went to school in Wichita, because their folks lived and worked in Wichita, and went to school in Wichita...you get the idea. Generations, firmly planted in the tapestry of their environment. And while I was initially enamored with their sense of solidarity and camaraderie, over time, I saw at what cost this came: Inability to reach for that brass ring - to relocate if necessary to fulfill goals, or aspire for a life outside the box. And...all the intertwined drama which inherently plagues such tight-knit groups. Don't get me wrong - a formidable force when standing together - something I've never had; but infighting and a general lack of privacy without an external common enemy to face.
I was a late-bloomer. I wasn't exactly shy in high school, but neither was I outgoing. I spent most of my years being ambivalent. The majority of my social activities were with my folks, or our church group. I didn't really get to know myself well until my isolationist period in Germany in my early 20s. And while everyone in high school knew me, as my role dictated, I was never one of the popular kids. So while I have a Facebook account I don't use Facebook. In reality, my Facebook does nothing more than point to my LiveJournal (which BTW its entirely unsuccessful at doing as far as people commenting me here). This hasn't stopped everyone I've ever known in both High School and the United States Air Force from 'adding' me. It was here that one of my life's questions was answered.
One girl, awkwardly the same one I dreamed about early last year (whether that dream was triggered by Facebook or pre-dates her involvement on Facebook I have no idea), posted a picture of her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes. Curiosity formed first, before blooming into full-fledged compression across my face. I knew nearly everyone in that picture. That's how they all remained friends. They all grew up together.
Despite the shortfalls, I think I would enjoy knowing that. My strengths lie elsewhere having been so well-traveled, and I likely approach life from a different angle; My wife and I take solace in our anonymity - it comforts us. But having moved my son from three different schools in each of his different grades, I wonder sometimes if I'm doing him a disservice.