Thursday, December 29, 2005

cath girls start much too late

last night, my mom let me borrow her car while she was working. first off, i want to note how huge this is, because my parents have - almost as long as i've been alive - driven mercedes. for me to get to take this car was a true rite of passage. also, it put the fear of god in me, and i didn't do much with it.

i went and saw the producers (opinions?), worked for a bit on upcoming sketch show at caribou, and speaking of fear of god, went to my old high school.

it started out as a drive by.
bishop watterson was a place i never thought i'd go - not because i had any ideas about it, but because once as we passed it on our sunday outing to my great-granparents, my dad told me he'd send me there over his dead body. my dad went to the school, and was severely pressured by his parents to be a priest as he was the only son of a very catholic italian family (remember, these were different days). my dad was INSANELY intelligent, and though he was smart as a whip, he started acting up to rebel against seminary - thus, catholic school and air force were in his cards.

cut to me, around 8th grade. i was public school all the way, and my brothers had gone to worthington before me. (sidenote: worthington high school is what the movie "Heathers" is based on.) following a path close to my father's, i was also in advanced placement courses, but didn't want to be a nerdbot after some grizzly elementary days, so started morphing into what we see now (endlessly cool). my parents got worried about this behavior, so they pulled me from worthington and sent me to watterson.

YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
ALL MY FRIENDS ARE AT WORTHINGTON!
I HAVE TO WEAR A UNIFORM?!
DAD SAID I'D NEVER GO THERE!

yep, dad DID say i'd never go there. but, my sweet grandpa nicky was dying in the hospital, and had a wish - a wish for me to go to watterson.

ugh.

by the middle of 10th grade, i loved it there. it took a lot of getting used to, as it was a bizarre world, but i was awestruck and couldn't believe it was mine. the building was old, ominous, and... catholic. a tiny chapel with confessionals, bad tile floors, 60s design, the gym was our church, you name it. every stereotype you can think of pretty much fit - the italian boys wore italian horn necklaces; the girls were tough, unbibbed their tops and rolled up their skirts each day after school, and ran off-campus to smoke.

my class of 202 ruled, though, and many people have still stayed in touch from that class. i have no regrets about the switch. i loved high school. i also think - and i can't believe i'll say this... i hate myself in advance - that uniforms made a difference. i certainly know, though i don't agree with the catholic faith, that going to mass may have made us a much kinder class to one another. it's just fact - any meditation to make one more reflective and less judging in teen years probably helps.

still though - it was hard to be there, because the same things that bothered me about that institution are still very much in place. it's so, so very antiquated. and comparitively, to me and my political beliefs, we are just unaligned. re: faith - it was the one downside - that i began to question my faith in my teen years and no one there seemed willing to debate the answers. well, there was one exception to that... the best religion teacher ever (yep, i took religion all four years) was a woman named kathy kane. she had tried to become a nun, but they told her she wasn't ready. instead, she then became a theologian and teacher. she bucked the system my freshman year, and taught world religion instead of catechism... then she told us we had to decide if we still thought we were catholic.

oh captain, my captain.

last night, as i was circling the building, i noticed there were a bunch of parked cars around back. i parked, and a man came out the back door. it was wide open - there was an men's alumni game going on inside the school. as soon as i hit the door, everything came flooding back. the smell, the tile, the hallways, the trophy cases, all of it - it was all just the same. slight changes, but generally - the exact same. i felt like i had stumbled into a wormhole and morphed back to being 14, laying eyes on all of it again for the first time.

the door was not only open because there was a game, but because they were doing renovations on the place, adding a wing to the school. this is good news for them, since typically, catholic schools close down pretty frequently in this day and age. i had access to everything - senior hall, freshman hall, the "dungeon" (where you go for detention), the gym, the theatre.

i walked out front and looked at the building for a bit. it was still huge, still homey, still scary. i got quiet as i walked around it, and wondered where all the reverence came from within me. was it reverence for really loving high school? or loving something so flawed, and knowing i did?

there was a sign out front of the building explaining what renovations were to come. on it, top right, it read the following:

"Bishop Watterson High School - Embracing the Future."

hmm. we'll see.

2 Comments:

Anonymous trace said...

i love it.
i am such a skeptic about cath school and the cath world in general. but knowing all you watt high kids and hearing how much you loved hs and how much you got out of watterson has always made me think outside my little comfort zone. thanks for the good story.
go eagles

12:48 PM  
Blogger tara d. said...

i think it's completely fair that you are. for anyone who wasn't inundated in it, i don't know why it wouldn't be bizarre. it's funny, though, what nice people came out of that place. there's something to be said for it, i s'pose.

thanks for loving all of us in spite of (or because of) it.

go eagles.

2:25 PM  

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