It’s kind of impossible to find the perfect beginning to a post that is supposed to capture so much in so little words, so I’ll do my best by saying that, in high school, if there’s one thing to take advantage of and one thing that’ll be hard to let go of, it’s homecoming.
Homecoming isn’t just a week with stupid dress-up days, girls hitting each other on a football field, and a semi-formal dance.
Homecoming is a feeling.
It’s planning your outfits, Powderpuff practice, posters on your locker, standing in the Student Section on Friday night, curling your hair before the dance on Saturday.
And then it’s over.
And you wonder, how could something so good slip away so fast?
Getting to play, and win (!!!), Powderpuff this year was by far one of the most fun moments I’ve ever had in my time as a Hi-Liner. Our senior class coming together to celebrate a 1-1 Powderpuff record, storming the field, and gathering together for a picture post-W was the most incredible way to start off Homecoming week, and my dad showed up to surprise me on the sidelines for the second year in a row.
I’m a lucky girl. 😊
In all honesty, the dress-up days this year were not quite my favorite, but it was fun to see things from a senior’s perspective: how the underclassmen get excited, match outfits with their friends, the junior high kids running around clueless, their first homecoming underway.
The Tuesday of homecoming week, I went to watch the volleyball team in Fargo, during which a boy I recognized from DECA and who clearly recognized me as a State Officer shouted “DECA!!!!” at me as a replacement for my name. Even though the team lost, I realized that doing this, traveling to away games, cheering on class mates, picking the highlights from matches won and lost, was part of what it means to be a Hi-Liner.
Friday, Blue & White day, was filled with activities – a regular school day, pep rally, parade, working in the DECA store, and the homecoming football game. The pep rally was fun and I got to spend it surrounded by my friends and my class. Walking for DECA in the parade was different, but it was really cool to be a part of something that hadn’t been in the parade for a couple years, and to represent an organization that took over such a big part of my life.
Though I wasn’t really looking forward to it, working in the DECA store before the football game was actually fun – I got to talk to parents, grandparents, friends, and relatives of the players and of students who were so excited to watch our boys play football. The way the community rallies behind a team, even in the midst of a rough season, is truly remarkable and fills you with a sense of pride in the people who represent your school and town on the football field.
The football game is one of the big lasts.
Watching the last Hi-Liner Homecoming football game as a student didn’t really hit me until the fourth quarter ran out, the cheerleaders put down their pompoms, and the team went to the end zone to take a knee.
No matter how hard Friday night hit, Saturday was by far the most fun and most difficult part of homecoming week. Throughout all four years, I’ve never once missed a school dance – homecoming, snowball, and prom. This year, I got to get ready and hang out with all of my best friends before the dance. Surrounded by all of these people, I sat and felt so lucky that these people are by my side and in my life. The dance itself was a lot of fun, despite the fact that the music was terrible. You get what you give (and I happen to give great dance moves and lyrics shouted at the top of lungs). After the dance, I was again surrounded by people who made me laugh and stay up way past my bedtime and who make me feel like a very grateful girl.
Despite a busy, rollercoaster of a week, homecoming was great. The only thing I would have changed was getting to have my mom by my side during the week. Oh, and that part where my boyfriend broke up with me. 😉 In terms of lasts, this one is a hard-hitter. But I spent it well.
I spent it loved and loving. I spent it laughing.
Homecoming. Coming home. The content of this post has appeared and reappeared several times for me over the past two weeks, like the colored fragments in a kaleidoscope changing form as it is turned.
There are so many types of homecoming. So many ways to come home. This post is meant to be about Abby’s last high school homecoming. But then life had to insert her nosy little fingers, and keep turning the kaleidoscope.
Homecoming can be high school homecoming: dress up days, football games, dances. It can be coming home from vacation. Coming home from work. Coming back to your hometown for homecoming. Back to the actual home you grew up in. Eating pancakes the way Uncle Marty made them. Crunching fall leaves.
Coming home can be dying.
As Abby referred to in her post, I was not in town the week of homecoming. She was kind of upset with me for this. I was missing her last homecoming. I wasn’t sure what the big deal was. I was back for the dance, so would see her dressed up and take pictures. VCHS Homecoming was not about me, the mother. I assumed everything she experienced would not be different if I wasn’t here. Maybe I should know by now not to assume things.
About a month before homecoming, I booked a trip to San Francisco for a conference. This was a no-brainer to me. San Francisco. Anne Lamott is FROM there, you guys! I had never been there, and was incredibly excited to see the sites I’ve seen in movies, and read about in Anne’s books. The picture is the view from my hotel room of the city waking up. Like I was going to give this up for homecoming.
The conference I attended was on health and violence—specifically the impact of any and every kind of violence on the health of individuals and the health care industry. It was incredible to think of what “coming home” feels like for people who go home to violence daily.
Everywhere we walked we saw homeless people. Another shocking reality. What is coming home for these people? Coming back to the sidewalk in front of a store front after a day of looking for food? Coming back to a box that all the tourists and locals pretend not to see? I can’t even speculate.
Abby texted me during school on Tuesday of Homecoming week and said, “I want to go home.” She was expecting bad news. It was the worst kind of anticipation. She wanted to go where she felt the safest.
Later in the week, the bad news came in. Her boyfriend broke up with her. God dammit.
At the very moment he was doing this, I was in a workshop about adolescent relationships.
I shit you not.
This isn’t just a coincidence, or ironic. It’s the kind of wtf weirdness that causes a buzzing in my ears. I don’t want to say too much about this, because our next post is about the breakup.
On Friday, I arrived back in Valley City with enough time to chug down some pizza, and change for the Homecoming football game. Abby was already at the game, working at the DECA store selling VCHS apparel. I’m a lucky mom, because coming home for me meant that even though the first time I saw the girls they were at the football game—where, you know, people could see—they still hugged me. They were happy to see me. Even hung out with me at the game for a while.
Beyond football games and dances, I have thought more in the last few weeks about the meaning of the words home and coming home than ever in my life. I wonder what my house is like to come home to for my family. Does the chaos and mess feel overwhelming? Or does that just make it feel like home? It's certainly not comforting to me to be met with chaos when I walk in the door.
How do I receive my kids and my husband? Do I immediately bark orders as they walk in the door, or do I welcome them home and help them decompress? I’m not sure I’ll like the answer. But I'm going to keep thinking about it, and see what I can do to make coming home a place where they feel safer, loved, accepted, and...well...home.
If you have things you do to make coming home your family’s safe place to fall, please share in the comments!