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Facebook Answers Life's Questions

Posted on 2009.03.03 at 13:00
Current Location: 75070
Current Music: Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1
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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.


dreamkatch at 2009-03-03 21:05 (UTC) (Link)
I can relate to feeling like you're outside the groups. We didn't move around a lot while I was growing up, but we commuted quite a distance to a private school. We were never in a neighborhood, so I never had friends around me, like the other kids at school would. After-school activities would have to be planned well in advance. Looking back, sometimes I feel like I missed out. But then, I look at Facebook. I see those girls that I wanted to be friends with, and they're all still in that small town where we went to school. Yes, they might still be oh-so-close, and go and do things together like have portraits taken with each other. But they're still in that shit town that I desperately wanted nothing to do with, and still loathe. They all married locals, and they have their little families and get togethers....but it seems like they will never experience life outside that little safety net. And overall, I think I'd prefer to be on the outside, looking in at this.
ehowton at 2009-03-03 21:44 (UTC) (Link)
One of the first times I understood that for myself was after I'd come back from serving in Germany and then the UK. I was on 30-days leave before my next exciting assignment and walked into the local Wal-Mart of our small town. The guy who'd lived across the street from us and graduated the year before I did rang up my goods and bagged them. Part of me wished my aspirations were so easily sated, but that's just not who I am. I never knew what I was going to do, I just always felt it would be more than it was, and I've never been disappointed.
thesweetestnote at 2009-03-03 21:51 (UTC) (Link)
That 3rd paragraph describes my home town and family. Tis a huge and smelly box it tis... yarr!
ehowton at 2009-03-03 22:03 (UTC) (Link)
Wichita is really nice. Nice folks there. But everything just seems so superficial sometimes. Like its window dressing.
photogoot at 2009-03-04 01:38 (UTC) (Link)
Life is like a box of chocolates...
ehowton at 2009-03-04 01:54 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you Mrs. Gump.
joey_glover at 2009-03-04 04:03 (UTC) (Link)
that dreams sounds chill.
ehowton at 2009-03-04 04:09 (UTC) (Link)
All my dreams are chill, yo. I have a 'dream' tag on this journal, but I would caution you on its use. Most of my dreams are military in nature; very weird.
joey_glover at 2009-03-04 19:17 (UTC) (Link)
that's interesting. i'll be sure to utilize it.
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332 at 2009-03-04 11:46 (UTC) (Link)
I assume that it is a give and take, actually. Those lifelong friendships can go in strange directions. I can give you a perspective on the seedy underbelly of those kids who grew up together.

I have a friend who was very close with... there's no way to beat around the bush on this one... a crackhead. For years, I could not for the life of me imagine why he kept this guy around for so long when he could at this point barely speak.

Then one day I saw a photo on his refrigerator. It was of the two of them when they were two. And I understood completely.

This guy isn't around much anymore... my friend was pretty much one of the last markers of humanity that he had, and his life has now deteriorated to the point where he can't be around people at all. It was painful to watch my friend go through this.

On the other hand, Sandy, my cinematographer who has been doing a fantastic job shooting The Early Mixes, is somebody I've known since third grade, and with whom I had been in the Boy Scouts with. So go figure.

Edited at 2009-03-04 11:47 am (UTC)
ehowton at 2009-03-04 13:58 (UTC) (Link)
That's gotta be tough. Two-sides. Just like with everything else in life.
prog_guy69 at 2009-03-04 12:24 (UTC) (Link)
I did not know that you went to Skyline as a freshman. Previously, on my blog, I've mentioned my former girlfriend who passed away ... she graduated from Skyline in '87. It is possible you may have met her years before I did. If so, lucky you. :-)
ehowton at 2009-03-04 13:27 (UTC) (Link)
Skyline was the most massive educational machine I've ever seen. Something like 5000 students on a single campus. That's insane for a high school.
prog_guy69 at 2009-03-05 00:03 (UTC) (Link)
Berkner was not much better my sophomore year. The school had over 3,000 students and that was just soph's, jr's and sr's. Of course nothing beats Plano S.H. in 1983. I year they graduated around 3,000 seniors that year! It was the last year Plano had only one senior high. Plano East opened the next year.
wardlejew at 2009-03-04 18:17 (UTC) (Link)
I come from a graduating class of 60. I lived in the same home my entire childhood. I live an hour away from where I grew up. I admit, I haven't experienced some things life has to offer (Some ways that is good). Two years as a missionary in New York taught me some things though. I don't think I'm any worse off for living in rural Idaho my entire childhood though. Good friends and great family are not overrated.

"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."

I agree, to some this happens, but it doesn't just happen to people who live in one place all the time. Some people think they have to move to advance certain goals and end up not meeting other goals because of that. There are two sides to each story, sometimes more.

Maybe I'm just lucky. I'm meeting my financial goals as well as family goals at this time. Of course, I am an hour away from where I grew up.
ehowton at 2009-03-04 18:35 (UTC) (Link)
Admittedly, it was a generalization, as my wife, too doesn't suffer from the family drama I mentioned. I am also an hour away from where I spent my formidable years. When someone asks me where I'm from and I say, "Dallas" they usually assume I've been here the entire time. I enjoy small-town life. Living two minutes from my parents when I did was both a blessing, and a curse. If I had my way, however, I'd prefer them closer.

And your missionary in New York is absolutely eye-opening and exactly the type of thing which fills out your breadth of experience. That's something no one can take away from you!
lesabre500 at 2009-03-05 13:38 (UTC) (Link)

This sounds eerily familiar. I'm from a small town, packed up and moved from here, Stratford Ontario out to Calgary Alberta for 18 years. Out there my home base was Calgary but I spent years working all over the province. Now back here, I'm almost like a stranger to some. The one good thing about FaceBook though is the fact that I got in touch with a really good friend of mine out in BC after not talking to him for over 20 years. The weird thing is, I opened a FB account and hardly ever go there. One day I did a search and his name came up because his one son set up an account for him so that they could send pics to each other and communicate through FB. It was a real fluke finding him there.

On another note, our family has an annual Oktoberfest BBQ and for the past 2 years my Mom has avoided going. There's usually about 50 of us that get together for this family reunion but because of a silly spat many moons ago, my Mom and her sister aren't on speaking terms. Peyton Place, Dallas, Knot's Landing - all that drama was nothing compared to the loony stuff that goes on with my family. Geez, it's nice to be home.

Adios amigo,


ehowton at 2009-03-05 15:02 (UTC) (Link)
We live in an imperfect world. Nice whitespace.
lesabre500 at 2009-03-05 15:39 (UTC) (Link)


I know I'm not very educated when it comes to PC's so could you please help me out and explain "whitespace"
If I'm doing something wrong, tell me so I can correct it please. I am answering this through my G-mail.


ehowton at 2009-03-05 20:22 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Steve

If you think of it in terms of a sheet of paper in a typewriter, 'whitespace' is what you get at the end of your letter if it doesn't fill up the page. Online, this space occurs when you hit the "Enter" key at the end of your text - this translates into a typewriter's carriage return, which advances the sheet of paper up. When you submit your comment, livejournal thinks those carriage returns are intentional, and fills the end of your comment with spaces.

Don't know much about gmail's idiosyncrasies, but schpydurx (aka ProfessorTom) might if you ask him. He's a rabid google automaton.
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