A couple of days before my 20th high school reunion, I dyed my hair purple.
In high school, I was the girl who wore velvet leggings and torn jean shorts, oxblood Doc Martens, pig tails. I wore 7 Seconds t-shirts and listened to Warlock Pincers and the Grateful Dead. To say that I wasn't your typical Ogden High School student is probably putting it mildly. I had purple hair and blue hair. I was once "arrested" by the JROTC for refusing to go along with a school-wide activity where we pretended to be under military rule. The principal was my friend.
I missed weeks of school because of depression.
I went to raves and clubs. I dropped acid and then wrote a senior portfolio called, "What a long strange trip it's been."
I had a varied group of friends, and some days it felt like none at all. Because, high school.
We all feel like we don't fit in, like people don't get us. I probably took that to extremes. A non-Mormon in a state with, at the time, an LDS population of 80%. I was in an advanced academic program - we were the Krelboynes (Malcolm in the Middle, represent) from 3rd to 8th grade, and my one foray back into mainstream 6th grade ended poorly. (Why, yes, I was essentially kicked out of a middle school.) I had open knee surgery when I was 12 and spent 6 weeks with a fully-immobilized leg. That, paired with my last name, led to the "Pogostick" nickname. Imagine that chanted across the gym during a school field day. Somehow, bullying seems funny in retrospect, and it killed me then.
So fuck it, if I wasn't going to fit in, because I didn't wear the same clothes or believe the same things or act the same way as everyone else, then I was going to be myself. An early, "Haters to the left" attitude, perhaps. I wrote poetry during Geometry, smoked cigarettes in my car during breaks, and existed on coffee and angst.
Eventually, high school ended, as it does, and I moved on and away. By any account, I've kicked life in the ass. Went to college on scholarship, immediately found a job in my field after graduation (and got to move the hell out of Utah for Austin). Married, children, pets, friends. Microsoft.
And then the reunion. And my hair. For some reason, it felt important to go back to that space (physical and mental) as I was then. Perhaps to show that the freak girl can make good. That there is a world outside of high school where the freak is not just accepted but can be a rock star. Where you are judged not on what ward you go to, or what you believe, or what music you listen to, or even the color of your hair, but for the skill you bring to the table. Where all that matters is what you can do. I was making a statement to everyone who I felt didn't like me or believe in me, who thought I wasn't worthy.
During our final reunion activity, a tour of our remodeled school, I rocked Tardis tights, a jean skirt, and a Microsoft t-shirt.
And probably I was the only one who noticed. Who got the intention behind the outfit. And, in the end, who was meant to get the message.
I didn't get where I am because I was like everyone else. And no one does. We each make our own way and have to figure out what drives us, protects us, pushes us forward. We all have our own shit to work through, and the tools we use are as varied as we are. Those Tardis tights reminded me, as I greeted, and hugged, and joked with people that I hadn't really thought of in 20 years, that I, we grew up. That what got me through high school got me to where I am now. And that is a good place.
The hair is really just tinged purple now, it doesn't last. But I'm keeping the tights. Maybe for our 30 year, I'll bust them out again, this time with blue hair.
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