It is no stretch of the imagination, but I was pretty much a nerd in high school. I hung out with a bunch of fun and quirky people like myself. Man, we had a great time. The summer after high school, before everyone headed out to college, and eventually on with their lives, we spent nearly every night together, in some combination.
Three of us were in band. One the band president. The other the VP. Two in flag corps. One on the dance team. Five in National Honor Society. Each one of us, aware of how special our friendships were then, knowing that our lives were before us, changing constantly. Passion, ambition, and humor were the common threads between us. We vowed to stay in touch.
I graduated high school in 1985. I was the only one who stayed locally for college. I spent nearly every weekend visiting these people at their schools, and having the time of our lives. We kept in touch. Every one of us. Even before Facebook.
Six years ago at our 20 year class reunion, we all agreed to go together, without spouses. It was something. If you've never gone to a high school reunion, you SHOULD. I was blown away for so many different reasons. I was the only one there who was pregnant. The "cool" people peaked in the late 80's, tops. I have no memory for names. And all the "nerds" looked better than ever. That experience was life-affirming. The kind you almost can't explain.
Cut to the present day.
Two of us are teachers. One works for World Bank, and lives in both NYC and Morocco. One is an engineer for a big oil company. One is a lighting editor for Pixar in Oakland (and we love to look for his name in the credits at the movies). And one is the Editor in Chief of Working Mother Magazine.
When I was at the doctor's office last week with my mom, I grabbed a copy of the magazine and opened the cover to my friend's picture, and read aloud, "Letter from the Editor" to her. Then I showed her who wrote it, knowing she'd recognize who it was. So proud of her.
She echoed my sentiments to my children on the way home. "Hang out with nerds, kids." It wasn't the first time they heard it. Jenny visits every August (her family still lives here), so I bring it up when we depart company annually, too. In a world where there is so much bullying and competition to be the best at everything, I want my kids to know that beauty fades, but dumb is forever. Seek people who have admirable qualities and a sense of humor--and have FUN. It worked for me.
Love you guys. Nerds and all.