Facing Old Fears

post by Jessica

Slowly, we are starting to get ready for our move to New York City at the end of July. This will mark the end of fifteen years living in this state, and will come about six weeks after my fifteen year anniversary of living in the United States. In fact, when we move to New York, it’ll be the first time I will be living in the United States but not in this state in particularly.

I started to realize this when I received an invitation to a reunion for my Show Choir from high school. The group started 20 years ago (with poofy hair and sequined dresses) and continues today (with poofy hair and sequined dresses), and they were having a reunion show, open to all alumni of the group. My first response was anxiety. Show Choir had been a large part of my high school experience, but not all of it had been particularly positive, even by high school standards. I talked to R about it, and contacted my friend from high school, M, and he told me to come – my life is going really well right now, so why not? My mom, on the other had, was worried that it would be a terrible experience. The end of my show choir experience was really hard on me, so I can understand where she was coming from.

Still, my anxiety reaction really convinced me I needed to go – if nothing else, it would be a few hours of misery and then I could go on with my life. I knew almost immediately it wouldn’t be like that. On arrival, I was so nervous, but when I parked, I started talking to the girl who drove in right in front of me, and we chatted all the way inside. Being that she was still in high school, I told her about when I was in school and the school was still orange (they’ve since painted it beige, which is only kind of an improvement). I was worried, but seeing M break into a smile when he saw me helped wipe that away. Of the five people there from my graduating class, there was really only one person I was worried about.

During one of the breaks, she came and sat next to M and I, as we sat in the newly-remodeled cafeteria (it has a flat-screen TV!). I have no idea how it happened, but I mentioned that I had been nervous about attending since this hadn’t always been a positive experience for me, and she paused and said that so many of the people in high school are still learning to deal with situations. I understood – from her upbringing, my being Jewish was really problematic, and so she didn’t know how to deal with it.

Our performance was a lot of fun, and I met some great alumni and current students. I got to reconnect with my friend M (who lives in NYC, so lots of hanging out will be happening soon) and get some closure that I really wasn’t expecting to ever get. I felt like I reconnected with a part of my life that felt like a different country (and in some ways still does) and I am so glad for it.

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