A couple months ago, some of my high school classmates decided to put together a class reunion. I’ve never been to one and thought it sounded like fun and it would be a chance to visit my hometown and see my parents. Then everything changed.
Over two week ago, my dad was in the hospital and it wasn’t serious—in fact they were going to send him home that day, but to be on the safe side they decided to keep him and put him in what they referred to as “super strong antibiotics.” Fast forward a bit and suddenly Dad took a turn and the doctors and nurses weren’t sure what the medication had done to cause the problem. But Dad had rallied back from worse before, so they thought once the medications were out of his system, he’d be fine. And rally he did…for a bit. I went to sleep one night full of hope and drove to my hometown to see him only to find him taking a turn for the worse—one that no one could explain. He would pass away with my family all in the room with him and I’m going to be honest with you here—it was traumatizing. None of that touching Lifetime Movie stuff. No, this was shocking and I’m still walking around wondering what happened.
I went from talking on the phone with my dad and doing a countdown to when I’d see him again when I came in for the reunion, to feeling alone in the world. I once told my dad years ago, “You can’t die. No one else understands me…and you can’t leave me with those lunatics (my family).” I was only half-joking at the time, but Dad and I were very close and now I’m looking at the calendar and that reunion I was so excited about is getting closer and I’m realizing I have to go back to my hometown and this time there will be no visits with Dad. Am I ready for that? Plus, in the past I’ve had weird feelings about going back to my hometown period because I was away for so long when I lived in Europe and that town hasn’t felt like home in a decade. It’s a very strange thing to go back to a place you once called home and feel so disconnected to it.
Then I saw a post on the reunion site where people were sharing what they felt insecure about—would they be tan enough, etc. I know a lot of people try to diet, get new clothes, etc. before something like this, but honestly that’s not even on my list of worries. I’m worried I’ll end up rocking back in forth in the corner if something triggers me wrong or, because I took a program in school that kept me in classes with a lot of the same people, that I won’t know anyone there…and I’m a young adult author who writes about middle school and high school, so let’s face it—I’m worried people have read my books and maybe seen things in them and want to confront me. I mean, people have to wonder what I took from real life for the books.
So I was confessing all the reasons not to go to a good friend of mine and saying, “You know, a lot of people weren’t interested in making time for me once I moved back from Portugal and came for a visit, so really, I might go back home and find the same thing.” And then there was some whiny bit about how I wasn’t the same girl who left Grand Blanc all those years ago and a sob story about that as well because I was missing the old me—you know, the journalist who had her “stuff” together. But lucky for me, my friend got me to focus on what I did have and not what I lost. And, in my pathetic little pity party of comparing myself now to the old me, I realized that I was actually exactly where I had wanted to be back when I was graduating from high school.
Back then, I was told getting a book published was a long shot so I should focus on a career in journalism, so that’s what I did and dummy here was focusing on the fact that I’m not in journalism anymore. I completely ignored the bigger picture of how I had followed my original dream. And now, instead of conforming to what I thought I was supposed to be (the journalist), I’m freer to be, say, and do what I want because when you’re an author, no one expects you to have your “stuff’ together. Quite frankly, they’re impressed if you show up wearing pants and not drunk. My dad used to say that people thought aspiring singers, actors, writers, and artists were weirdos until they proved themselves and then you moved from the “weirdo” column over into the “eccentric” column. Now I no longer have to worry about “work appropriate” clothing and I wore blue nail polish in my last live interview. Back when I interned at a TV station, there was a whole discussion over my dark purple nail polish that was shown in a news segment. But now? Blue was completely acceptable and it was quite freeing to wear the color I wanted and not worry about what anyone else might be thinking.
So as the date for the reunion gets closer (seriously, is this month speeding by???) I am going into it with a different attitude. Yes, it’s one of loss, and fear of going home to a place that doesn’t feel like it anymore, but I’m also going in knowing I am who I am. Would high school “Krysti” recognize the person I am today? Well, probably because I still wear the same designers (although I ditched the purple colored contacts), but would she be proud? I think she’d be a little surprised I stuck it out with the writing career and to be honest, she’d be shocked I actually finished a book. That was the biggest hurdle for years. She’d also be disappointed that I didn’t become Mrs. George Michael, and probably be a little amazed that I settled down and got married. She’d also wonder wtf “gluten-free” was and why that mattered so much to me. And she’d smack me for focusing too much on what I thought I should have done to the point where I missed the big picture and had actually accomplished not just my goal of getting published, but my dream of having a series. And what would my dad say? “You’re not going in there a weirdo with a pipe dream. You’re eccentric now.” And then he’d probably ask if I was eating my blueberries because he believed they were an antioxidant goddess fruit.
This isn’t the trip back home I had looked forward to for so long, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make something good out of it. Maybe I’ll meet someone I didn’t get the opportunity to know better back in the day. Maybe I’ll reconnect with an old friend. Or maybe I’ll just sit and eavesdrop and gather dialogue for down the road. I’m going to just show up and these days, that’s half the battle won right there.
Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and Dating the It Guy.