Not all of my high school memories are happy. In fact, my entire freshman year was miserable. I grew up in a small town called Litchfield. Litchfield was so small at the time that it did not have a high school. You went through grades 1-8 at Griffin Memorial School (GMS) and then, depending on which part of town you lived in, you attended high school either in Manchester or Hudson. Myself, I ended up at Alvirne High School in Hudson. It was a real crappy deal for us Litchfield kids - you had the same classmates for 8 straight years and then half your class ends up going to a different high school and the ones that go to the same one as you, you usually end up losing touch with. For me it was terrible. I was cock of the walk at GMS, I had tons of friends and was pretty popular, like a big fish in a small pond. Then I end up going to this huge high school where I hardly knew anybody. It was very difficult for me as every single friend I had at GMS ended up in different classes than me at Alvirne so I literally knew nobody. And even worse, the kids from Hudson in my class had all gone through 8 years together and pretty much all knew each other and, as 14 year olds will do, weren't especially welcoming to kids they didn't know.
Some Litchfield kids were able to adapt and make new friends...and I might have too were it not for my sister. My sister Tracy was a senior during my freshman year. We were 4 years apart and had never really gotten along that well growing up. She wanted nothing to do with her little nerdy freshman brother; for example, she drove to school every day in her little Chevy Chevette but would not give me a ride so I had to take the bus. I never understood why she didn't seem to like me in those days but I didn't let it bother me, I was too busy trying to fit in in my new surroundings. Now, back then there was said to be a tradition wherein seniors would embarrass freshman by making them do things like sing or clean their table at lunch. Nobody ever knew anybody who had ever actually done it or had it done to them, it was just something meant to scare incoming freshamn, as I was told. Well, my sister decided that it needed to be done to me. She was friends with pretty rough and tumble guys in high school so she got two of them who looked like cavemen to do her bidding one lunch period during the first week of school. Somehow I had gotten word that she was planning on doing it at the start of the lunch period. The cafeteria was completely packed and everyone seemed to be looking over at me and whispering. My stomach was completely in knots and I was so nervous and scared that I thought I might pass out. And then it happened. The two cavemen appeared at my table and informed me that, at my sister's request, I was to go clean their table. I looked around for a teacher and tried to stall but nothing doing. I was trapped. In front of everybody, I got up, walked over to their table, picked up the trash and put it in the trashcan. I tried to keep a smile on my face as I did it, so as to not let them know that it bothered me but in reality I had never, ever felt so embarrassed and small. Any chance I had to ever be popular and be one of the "cool kids" - things everybody wanted in high school - were killed by those five minutes.
We got home that night and I was almost in tears at the embarrassment my sister put me through and the subsequent teasing and abuse I was subjected to by kids in my class. I told my mother what had happened and to my astonishment, she took my sister's side, said it was funny and that I was making a big deal out of nothing. To me, it felt like my life was over. I don't think I've ever as much hate and anger for my mother and sister as I did in that moment. I was so distraught and upset that I actually spent the rest of the night in my room making a list of ways to get even with my sister. Stuff like putting cat shit in her food or cutting off her hair while she was sleeping but in the end I did nothing. The rest of the year I continued to get teased by other kids about the episode and I pretty much just went into a shell and kept to myself. My entire freshman year was probably one of the most miserable times in my life.
Eventually the year ended and by the time sophomore year came around I started to come out of my shell a little bit. I joined the soccer team, made a few friends and even had two girlfriends by the end of the school year (of course, they were both freshmen and weren't aware of my embarrassing episode the year before!). Every now and then someone would recognize me and say something like "hey, aren't you the kid who had to clean your sister's table last year?" but for the most part it was forgotten.
I don't think my sister ever realized what a horrible thing she truly did to me or how much anger I felt towards her for a long time after that. I made a lot of friends and memories at Alvirne but I also spent 4 years convinced that she had completely ruined my high school years before they even began. You have to remember that I was a 14 year old kid, in a new school with no friends, hoping just to fit in. Of course I got over it and my sister and I are pretty close these days. I laugh about it now because I've got a lot more good memories from high school than bad ones. But that definitely is one of the bad ones...