I remember the horror I felt when I discovered my grandmother’s little crematorium she had rigged up in her postage stamp sized backyard. A pile of ashes were all that was left of old photographs, letters and documents. The little Italian lady had finally gone ’round the bend, gleefully incinerating our memories, history lost . Was this some sort of resolution of a past trauma? What was she hiding? No and nothing. She very calmly looked at me and said “no one will give a damn about any of this stuff in 50 years, this is my business, I don’t want to be remembered by these pictures” It took me 30 years, but boy, do I get it now, as I stand poised to throw this Senior Year scrapbook into my fire pit. This collection of memories I would like to forget has got to go..like now. What a shame you missed the dawn of the backyard fire pit era Neno, you would have loved it..there would have been nothing left to burn on South Augusta Avenue.
My Senior Year scrapbook has been tucked safely away for 30 years. It is a massively overstuffed testament to an 18 year old girl, circa 1983, with a smart mouth and a too cool for school attitude. I placed it high up on a closet shelf many years ago after I had my first child, making a mental note to never let my children see it, but I wasn’t ready to pitch it just yet..I’m ready now. The babies are 12 and 14 now, it’s gotta go. I took it down, all the mementos spilling out ..awards? Hardly. Matchbooks from bars we illegally entered at 17? Affirmative. Spoke to soon, there were two awards..”Senior Lounge Queen” and “Sloppiest Uniform”..egads. Page after page of wildly inappropriate messages from my friends, only girls, as I attended an all-girls Catholic high school. Everything you have ever heard about Catholic girls being the worst is absolutely true..we cursed, smoked, and spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to find a way around the rules and Sister Dorothy MacArthur’s iron fist. Short and heavy and no spring chicken, Big Mac was our Principal who could pack a punch. Once, when I was probably cutting a class and sneaking into the Senior Lounge to probably nap, she flew from a dark hallway corner and practically knocked me out of saddle shoes, pinning me against the wall . I remember her crucifix digging into my chest and trying desperately not to laugh. We spent hours sitting in the cafeteria creatively trying to change the birth year on our drivers licenses and the grades on our report cards. I amassed a fortune of “JUGG” slips..after school detention slips. These were also proudly taped into my scrap book..”disturbed quiet study hall” and “late” ..recurring themes in my crazy, I don’t give a shit high school world.
So, what was wrong with me? Who was I? Looking back now I can honestly say I have no freaking idea, I had a loving, supportive family and no trauma to blame my behavior on. I was also a loving daughter and a hard worker. The late slips were largely due to my before school job, opening a bakery at 5am and then rushing to school at 8am. I believe the answer was and is, we just thought we were funny as hell. I empathize with kids today, putting it all on the internet..we would have done the exact same thing were the technology available. Believe me , the fact that there are some low quality Kodak Instamatic photos and my friends’ scrap books floating in the ether is bad enough.
The 30 year reunion is coming soon, and I doubt I will attend. I just can’t spend an evening talking about that girl that I am not very proud of. She wasted her parent’s very hard earned private school dollars and drove her teachers nuts. I think I have redeemed myself to my parents, but I do owe Sister Mary Earle, the Head Disciplinarian, a heart felt thank you. She has died, but we will catch up eventually. “Smurle” was a genuine lover of bad girls , and I caught her smiling at me more than once, she didn’t let me off the hook for my transgressions, but she could have made my life a living hell, thanks Smurle. Time to go channel my grandmother and burn baby burn.