“So…” I was beat up and starting to long for that hotel I had not insisted on when we left the airport. But I hadn’t seen this highway in so long I couldn’t bear to shut my eyes. I figured I should let Chris in on what I was thinking as we drove to Eagle River.
“Eagle River is outside of Anchorage, and is not quite as cool. But it is close, so it is close to cool. When I was a teenager, the Eagle River kids were too good for the Wasilla kids. Of course, the Eagle River kids were not good enough for the Anchorage kids. The Wasilla kids were nothing in this whole situation.”
Naturally, this setup was all within the context of the church youth groups. It started with the big mother church, that horrific structure in Anchorage, and the later generations of Peter’s Creek and Wasilla.
Abbott Loop had the cool high school–with cheerleaders!–and Peter’s Creek had a Christian School too. The Wasilla kids were bussed to the Peter’s Creek christian school until Wasilla started it’s own ‘school’–a home school program.
These three stagnant pools of social standing met briefly and brilliantly once (maybe twice) a year at camp. More on that later.
There is no comparison between a high schooler with a competitive cheer squad and a high school girl–THE ONLY high school girl–in a home school program. I didn’t really blame the Anchorage kids for acting superior. They were.
But the Peter’s Creeek kids should have known me. After all, I went to 7th grade there. They should have recognized that I was only superficially and under duress a home schooler.
Peter’s Creek christian school didn’ have that much reason to feel better than everyone. THey didn’t have cheerleaders (an activity decreed too likely to incite carnal desires). They should have known me and kept in touch.
But it was out of sight, out of mind. I knew even then that one recess, one lunch hour, one passing by in the hall, could change EVERYTHING, depending on who said that someone else said something.
I had no someone else to say things to me. So I sat at home, a cauldron of self-loathing. I loathed the doppelganger fashioned by my family and church–that backwater girl, the homeschooled Christian example of academic excellence and submission. She was not me!
I deserved pompoms! I deserved the starring role in the school play-the one with the solo!
I was a brilliant shooting star caged in a dark bottle.
The starring role…In a piece of irony so biting it was not lost on me at the time, I did get the starring role my senior year. I was Mary in the Christtmas play for the homeschool program. My Joseph? a serious 5 year old with glasses. I did get to sing the solo:
“My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord! And my Spirit hath rejoiced…”
These and many other unformed memories rushed past me, mixed in with the birch trees and the exit sign approached.
“Is this where I exit?” Chris asked. I could tell he was getting tired too. It was approaching 4 am now.
“Here,” I said. “This is the way to Eagle River.”
But now that my memories were interrupted, I had a sinking feeling as I remembered more general specifics about this town.