Thursday, April 10, 2008

Turning Points

Last night I took my 13-year old niece to Open House at the local high school. My high school. The campus has been dramatically altered since I went there—at least three new buildings have popped up and the number of classrooms is probably double what it was. But as I guided her around the halls and grounds, I could still identify important landmarks: the locker my friend Lara and I shared in 9th, the darkroom where I made out with my photographer boyfriend, the slouching oak tree I backed into with my Ford Escort.

It flooded me with memories and I was reminded of how, if it weren’t for a few fateful weeks at that school, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

It was Spring of my sophomore year and my BFF Lara and I decided to try out for the Junior Varsity cheerleading squad. We practiced almost every day in my parents’ family room—committed to perfecting our jumps and hurkies and spirit fingers so we could stand together in front of football, baseball, basketball crowds.

When tryout day rolled around, we put Vaseline on our teeth to make them extra shiny. We cheered our little hearts out and kept our arm movements sharp. We both got called back for a second cheer. Had to be a good sign, right?

That night, I got a phone call letting me know I hadn’t been selected for the squad. Lara cried. And her phone never rang. The current cheerleaders kidnapped her in the morning to welcome her aboard. I was happy for her, but hated her for being better than me.

I had to find something else to do. Someone else to be.

I tucked my cheer tears into my pockets and headed to Yearbook tryouts. Given that my nerd quotient is much higher than my bouncy blonde rallying capacity, it wasn’t a surprise that the Yearbookies invited me to join their staff as a writer. The following year, I was co-Editor-in-Chief. And suddenly I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life crafting headlines and copy.

I majored in Communications and Advertising in college, and worked for a great direct marketing shop after graduation. I’m still writing every day and absolutely love my job.

Getting that apologetic phone call turned out to be a defining moment in my life. Still I wonder sometimes where I would be if I’d spent a year in that blue and white skirt…but deep down, I'm eternally grateful things worked out the way they did.

What were some turning points in your lives, lovely readers?


Jane Moneypenny said...

There was that time that I checked off the wrong "undecided" box on my college application and ended up in the art school... but hey, it worked out and now I have a great career. Go figure.

Hannah said...

You know, I had a friend who tried out for cheer and begged me to try out with her casue she didn't want to do it alone. So I did. And I was the only girl who didn't make it.

I didn't know what I was thinking. I had no idea what a hurkie was or what I was doing and made a total fool of myself. And then my "friend" totaly ditched me! Cause she had all her new cheer friends to hang out with. Whatevs. No biggie.

But to answer the question, I wound up going for mocktrial instead and did really really well in it and had a great time. I didn't become a lawyer or anything but it was still a lot of fun.

P.S. I did yearbook too! I was on the photo staff

Lara said...

And now I'm a professional cheerleader. Oh yeah, no I'm not. I'm a desperate housewife! What caused that?!

Anita said...

Let's not forget that after making yearbook you too were kidnapped in the early morning and forced to parade around school that day makeup-less and in a graffitied t-shirt. :)

Also, without yearbook we wouldn't have had the opportunity to TP jack meersman's house.

"Once and For All" Forever, Baby!

Mel Heth said...

Jane - that's too funny! Glad you like where it led you.

Hannah - I had no idea we had such parallel lives! My heart just warmed a few degrees. :)

Lara - you're the professional cheerleader of my soul and that's all that matters.

Anita - my caption-writing sister, there are no words to express how cool and badass those two years were...

Big Sister said...

Here's a bit of irony- I did make the cheerleading squad in high school. Pretty much the only good thing that came from it, is the friendships that I still have to this day, but being the "fat cheerleader" who burst out of her tiny skirt at a pep rally, scarred me for life. Then as an adult with children, what do I end up doing with my free time? Creating the yearbook for my daughters' elementary school for the past 6 years. I guess yearbooks are in the Heth genes....You just figured it out first.