I got a very amusing phone call from one of my oldest friends yesterday.
There had been a bomb scare at my old high school on Friday, followed immediately by a bank robbery a mile down the street.
This is not the amusing part.
My friend's younger sister is currently a para-professional at the high school. Because of the bomb scare, she got a chance to talk with the substitute teacher in the room she was working in. Turns out, the substitute teacher is also a graduate of our high school, but from the year before my friend's (and mine) -- something my friend's sister noted when she heard the graduation year.
The substitute asked who the older sister was. Upon hearing her name, the substitute replied, "I remember her! She was friends with Abby."
"You know, I used to date Abby, back in high school."
My friend had been very clever in keeping the substitute's name to herself until that very moment. While I had had a string of high school boyfriends (remember that thing I said about not believing in long-term relationships when I was 20? The fact that I went through boys like water in high school somewhat built that belief), I had only dated one guy from the class before mine.
We'll call him Ben.
Ben went on to talk about how he had seen my pictures on Facebook -- particularly those from my modeling page. He then told my friend's sister, "I really missed the boat on that one."
To say Ben wasn't the perfect boyfriend would be a bit of an understatement. But, as high school boyfriends go, he was about on par with a good chunk of his peers. There were lies and wandering eyes, self-serving actions and words that were said regardless of their weight. I was Taylor Swift before Taylor Swift was a thing. All I needed was a guitar to spill my teardrops onto and I could've had a platinum country album waiting for me.
But, truth be told, if we all had our high school misdeeds held against us even into adulthood, most of us would be paralyzed by embarrassment or guilt or shame. Heaven knows I wasn't exactly Mother Teresa in my teenaged years. We actually reconciled two or so years later, when I was a freshman in college. He apologized for being a dick and he actually admitted that he still had feelings for me. At this point in my life, I was wrapped up in an ugly, one-sided pseudo-relationship with a rushing to-be-frat-boy (that I mentioned a very long time ago. Did I also call him Ben in that post? Apparently I like the name "Ben".), so the news was vindicating, validating, but little much else. My heart was so tied up that I almost chuckled at my high school "romance".
(The same way I'd look back on that frat boy time and chuckle at my naïve freshman-year "romance", but that's for another time).
So, in a way, hearing what Ben had recently said wasn't all too surprising for me. What did surprise me, however, was that nearly 7 years after we had reconciled (and he had made his big reveal), he was so readily able to talk about how he had screwed up/missed out.
I know how it's going to make me sound, but I don't really care: I fully recognize that I'm living out every outcast nerd's dream. People really didn't give me the time of day in my hometown. It got a little better in high school, but not by much. I simply went from the butt of jokes to...nonexistent to the "important" cliques. Boys that I had crushes on would find out I liked them and head for the hills. Does wonders for your self-esteem, let me tell you.
Then I graduated, started modeling, got signed to an agency. I slowly figured out how to dress and do my makeup (and while, at 27, I'm still learning, I have come a long way from when I was 15 and wearing blue eyeshadow). I traveled, went on adventures, met the man of my dreams, and got married in a castle (by a castle, but still...) I morphed into the person I knew I could be all along, and a lot of people who derided me are now following my modeling page. I was the person who looked forward to her 10-year reunion, because, unlike many, I didn't peak in high school.
There is something fitting, however, when you find out about the regret certain boys who didn't treat you right still have. I don't get that from every guy who treated me poorly (while frat-boy eventually apologized for how he treated me, I've yet to hear about any actual regret. But then again, I don't exactly have my ears out for it in the first place), but it's nice when it happens. Any girl can tell you that, no matter how pro-women-power, anti-Disney-princess, "We Can Do It!" you get, nothing destroys your self-esteem quite like a lover scorning you. Or even a would-be lover. You feel like there's something wrong about you -- like there's some unlovable. It doesn't matter how things actually are, because that's how it feels to you. So, to get a little vindication, even after a decade (wow, a solid decade since I dated Ben. How about that for feeling old?), is nice.
Granted, all it gave present-day me was a good chuckle and a chance to catch up with a friend whom I haven't talked with since the housewarming party. But part of me wanted to jump into a time machine, whisk back to 2004, and relay the news to 17-year-old me. And give 17-year-old me a high-five.
*Edit - Turns out I called him Daniel. Guess I don't like the name as much as I thought I did.