P.D.F.O.s 

Occasionally, I have dreams that have unknown origins. Many times, I think I understand where my unusual sleepy time picture shows have come from, but last night’s had me perplexed. I woke up rattled and immediately thought “that’s not what happened.” I call those: perplexing dreams of freakish origins (PDFO). Sometimes they are actual, but the greater and more important, are metaphoric. 

I rubbed my eyes for a second, pushed my hair off my face, and reached for the hair tie that slipped off in my confused sleep. 

“What was I doing that day?”

My dream had me six different kinds of confused. 

I had a dream last night about my last day of high school. And I have no idea why. 

I may have had the dream because I was thinking about my oldest nephew’s high school graduation. He graduated this past weekend (Go Bulldogs Class of ’16!). Or, maybe it was because I was thinking about The Breakfast Club because it was on tv. Either way, it was strange.

I dreamt that I was cleaning out my band locker. Yeah, I had one. And I was with three people. One of the people I was with was a girl I didn’t particularly like or dislike, and I was with another girl that I was actually friends with at the time but we weren’t close friends. They were accompanied by a boy that graduated either a year, maybe two, ahead of me. I do not remember him very well, save to say  I didn’t like him. Ever. Not even a little. 

I don’t remember the entire dream, but I remember the final scene if you will.

{at band locker–front hallway– end of school day}

{enter friend “S”–not particularly close friend–followed by “A” and male “J”}

“Did you get everything?” Friend “S” asked.

“I think so.”

“Good because once we leave, we are never coming back.” Said “J” in a snarky tone that he very well might have taken in real life. Like I said, we weren’t pals. 

“A” looked into my locker and noted that I had everything. 

And we left. “J” leading. “S” in the middle. “A” and I functioning as the caboose of an unlikely  train of people. 

I remember a tiny bit of the dream, but it did get me wondering, what did I do that day?

I can remember much of my senior year: getting my cap and gown, band practice, prom, college tours, and a host of other things, but my last day? I have no idea. I even remember fabulously not going to the all night party that my school hosted. I wanted to go home and be with the family that came to see me. So I did. I never spoke to 90 percent of my classmates again after commencement. 

I suppose this would be a bad time to say that my thought process at the time was bye Felicia

I was ready to move on and I knew that my actual friends would know why I wasn’t there. 

I’m not complicated. It’s not rocket science. I didn’t show because I felt like it was a slap to those that travelled to see me. “Thanks for coming, bye now?” 

This may be why, when I ran into a former classmate several years later, he asked how school in California was. California? How would I know?  The point was, once I was out of high school, I was gone. But I had become a bit of a mystery. Those 90 percent had no idea where I went

I graduated, and I became me

After graduation, I went back to my high school one time and it was to conduct an interview for a college writing class. 

In the past, I have made snarky remarks (sometimes quietly and to myself, sometimes out loud, sometimes even to family members…) about  high school graduations. “Congrats, you passed the easiest part of life” was a favorite. And I was thinking about bills, jobs that actually have to be kept, commitments, and all of the boring, mundane things called “adulting”. And, for many kids, that’s the case. 

But if that was actually true, if those years really  were the “easiest” why are people so often twisty about them? 

So while on some level, they are the “easiest” parts of life, they aren’t the “easiest” either. 

I am not entirely sure any part can be labeled “easy” with any sort of confidence. Only bravado. 

I have no idea what I did on my last day of my high school career. None. And I really don’t care to know with any accuracy.

I think I likely went home, threw my school bag on the bench in my family’s kitchen, grabbed my book, and went outside.

I started college in the fall and I lost contact with many of my former classmates. It’s not their fault and it’s not mine either. We had to grow up and become people beyond our childhood reflections and opinions of and about one another.

So, after I had the bizarre dream, I thought of its purpose.

I’m not one to say that every dream has meaning, because the one I had about the store that only sold left shoes, is just weird

But I think I know this one.

And it comes in the shape of advice:

Dear Graduate:

Congrats! You’ve passed through what many, and maybe myself included, will call “the easiest parts of life.” They aren’t, and I know the experience is different for everyone, but if I don’t razz you, who will? 

At first, being an adult sucks. It does. Bills suck. Jobs can suck. College? Yeah. That can suck too. Being broke sucks. And I know that sounds cherry and rosy, but you know what? It’s supposed to suck. Because epic stories will come out of it. And while “adulting” is never easy, it doesn’t suck forever.

Lots of people are going to try to live your life for you. They’ll tell you where to go to school, what your major should be,  what it shouldn’t be, and what you ought to do as a future occupation. Tell them (nicely, or whatever your degree of nice is) to step off. 

You’re going to have P. D. F. O.s that you need to follow. Do not strike down your dreams for  satisfaction of, or validation from, anyone. 

Lastly, no one cares what you were in high school. No one. Prom queen? So what? Star athlete? No one cares. Geek? Good for you. Still no one cares. Life levels out and becomes much more cruel, yet one thousand times more  forgiving,  once you’re no longer surrounded by people that know the you that you didn’t yet know. 

Start again. Do not let high school become your glory years. 

Make memories. Become a person that thinks beyond twelfth grade. Amaze yourself. Challenge yourself. Be open and accepting. Care about something bigger than yourself. These things will only do you good. They will not hurt you. Ever. 

 Become a person that can’t remember the last day of high school. 

Those four years shape much of who we become. But they aren’t the end all, be all. Thank goodness. 

Be more. 

You can.

And if you do one thing, don’t become an engineer if you’re really a poet. Don’t become a doctor just to make money. Law should be practiced only by the truly passionate. And don’t teach to “get the summers off”. 

Your perplexing dreams of freakish origins know what they’re doing. Those are the metaphoric. And metaphors deserve voice and attention. 

Turn your tassel.

And listen. 

Listen to your P. D. F. O.s. They are the greatest truths you have.

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