Georgia On My Itinerary

More than two decades ago, I graduated from Fitzgerald High School, which is located in a small town in the sweltering midriff of South Georgia. Next Tuesday, I’m renting a car (in Jersey – NYC rental prices are obnoxious) and driving home to attend my first class reunion since 1998. On the way, I’m also visiting my best friend from 10th grade who I haven’t seen face-to-face since 1989.

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AKA – shit’s about to get real.

I’m actually pretty excited about it – which I wouldn’t have expected even 5 years ago – but there’s seriously something about making it to 40 that changes your perspective on things in ways you never expect. (That and getting an invite with options for a 5XL-sized t-shirt, which makes me feel way better about the amount of weight I’ve put on since ’88.)

Now, seeing the best friend is one thing. She and I were that level of close that never goes away and I expect it to feel just like we’re 15 again, except she’s now a mom who teaches spin class in Dawsonville and I’m a lesbian who … does a lot of things in NYC that spin class moms in North Georgia probably haven’t tried before. Still, there’s no doubt we’re going to have a blast reminiscing about the 80’s and comparing lives and laughing our faces off.

But, because I’m friends with many of my former classmates on Facebook (and, for that matter, though who even remembers that site?), I know … I mean I KNOW … that we have completely different views on almost every single issue there is to view. And, because I’m friends with them on Facebook, I’ve also had more than a few encounters online that might make our impending face time a little tense. (Read: awesome.)

Take B for example, my dance partner from the 1987 FHS production of “The Music Man.” Once when I posted something on FB about feeling bad for the planet but loving the warm January day, he instantly wrote, “Really? Isn’t that what you liberals call global warming?”

Excuse me? This motherfucker almost literally hadn’t spoken to me since The Music Man, we’re only friends on Facebook because HE asked ME (I think, I don’t actually remember), and he had the nerve to just jump on my status update (which was so obviously tongue-in-cheek – god knows I love the environment) and write some shit like “you liberals”?

I made a snarky comment back, but really get into it with him at the time. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of his other comments – mostly about Democrats, Obama and Mexicans – and I just know he’s gonna say something stupid at the reunion. And I hope I’m right next to him when he does. Just gimme a reason to start, B and it is on.

The truth is, I like to poke a bear. Always have. Especially a minimally-educated, narrow-minded bear who wants to engage in verbal arguments with me. Poke pokedy poke.

(Remember Old High School Friend? The one who called Obama a nigger online? Poke. Poke. Poke.)

Actually, as much as I love the poking, I try really hard not to do it. I scroll away from the Tea Party updates and anti-gay posts as quickly as I can because it’s not worth it. They’re as convinced they’re right as I am, and after 15ish years in Fitzgerald poking everyone I could about their bigotry, hatred, ignorance, racism and overall assholeishness, I know there’s very little good that will come out of it.

However, that’s online. There I can open a different window, shut the laptop, go back to Candy Crush. In person I’ve got less discipline. Not in that I couldn’t simply walk away without saying anything in person, just in that I know I won’t.

It’s like some debate switch gets flipped and regardless of how loudly my inner voice screams at me, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” I  keep going until somebody’s completely red-faced and furious (rarely me) to the point that the breaker trips and the switch goes back off. From there, I add one more name to the “Thinks I’m a Bitch” list, and move along with my day. It’s not my most honorable attribute, but definitely one I not-so-secretly enjoy.

Obviously, not everyone I graduated with is narrow-minded and hateful, and I look forward to being surprised by a lot of people who I’ve possibly misjudged. After all, it has been 25 years. We spent the majority of our significant formative years together and I’m curious to see how everyone’s grown … or hasn’t … since then. So, overall I’m pretty excited for my adventure.

But still, I know for sure there are gonna be some hairy moments down there, and I can not wait to get back and tell you all about it.

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About Susan

Susan Kent is a small town Georgia girl living in Brooklyn, NY, and working on those deep rooted issues from her southern upbringing. She's a freelance writer and storyteller and co-host of Tell It: Brooklyn, a storytelling show for grownups. Susan frequently performs around NYC at shows like The Moth StorySLAM, Yum's the Word, and Mara Wilson's "What Are You Afraid Of?" Her stories have aired on a variety of podcasts and radio shows including, The Moth Radio Hour, Kevin Allison's Risk! podcast, Dingmantics, You Can't Make That Up and many others. If you want to get more intimate with Susan & her thoughts, feel free to follow her on Twitter @TheSusanKent. (Not to be confused with the Canadian actress of the same name, which happens more than you would believe.)

21 thoughts on “Georgia On My Itinerary

  1. See, this is EXACTLY why I wish I was going with you!!!!!! may the force be with you…..heh, me and my Star Wars!! xo

  2. I do enjoy your writing. I especially enjoyed the comparison of yourself and your best friend. I was down there last year for my 25th and whole there were idiots there they mostly kept to themselves. It was good to see some people and others not so much. I think you may be surprised at how much you enjoy the visit but you WILL be ready to leave. Once your borders expand its tough to squeeze th back into the box. And by the way, I have so far refused to make an immature comment about “how much I love the poking” but it wasn’t easy.
    Have fun!

  3. Listen Lisa, my little COGer. You know you love me like whoa. Wish I had more time to tour the tri-county area, cause you know I’d come see you.


  4. Nat –

    This is the exact kind of entertainment you need right now. Plus, I know you’d be the perfect date — although I’d have to serve as a translator the entire time … for you and for them.


  5. E –

    I get ya about the poking comment. I had a hard time myself…

    Also, you reminded me of something a client of mine wrote that I came across this morning:

    “When you don’t know what is available, or even possible, you don’t know what to ask and strive for.”

    Now that I’ve expanded so much, when I’m down there I start to get crazy … mainly from wanting to let people see inside my head to show them how much they’re missing in the world.

    Plus, I’ve found that no matter what the reason is for my visit, Fitzgerald always has this ability to suck my will to live to the point that I end up having a public breakdown in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

    Home Sweet Home.

  6. I hate you don’t have time either… I ran into Greg the other night (he is going through a divorce btw) and dealing with custody issues… but I was telling him that I got to see you in NY and how happy that made me! You know of all my friends… you are the gayest! Much LOVE!

  7. I miss old Fitz…and still love running over the old pics and times…and i have our Music Man photos!! if you make it to Atlanta come by and visit or call ill meet you in town!!!

  8. I have been to 2 high school reunions and have had so much fun at both. It is AMAZING what others remember that you forgot. Regale them with what you remember about them (one girl, who I only knew from once a week Latin Class remembered my nail polish color name – just one of many factoids I re-remembered). One guy (promising in HS) I asked “so what are you doing now?” replied “I’m a bouncer at Cheetah’s strip club”. I went blank for a moment, continued my smile, and all I could think to say was “well that is great – it is the nicest strip club in town!” Be prepared for moments like that and lots of fun memories with your HS pals. I look forward to you blog. xo

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