Thursday, March 14, 2013

Regrets

As a fifteen-year-old high school student, I pretty much learned to embrace being uncool.  My best friends were equally uncool.  It was all fine, though.  One of the funniest lines ever spoken was in the movie Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, and it pretty much sums up my high school experience:

"You know, even though I had to wear that stupid back brace and you were kind of fat, we were still totally cutting edge."

I don't have many regrets in life.  I've made mistakes, sure, but I feel they all helped shape me into a relatively decent, if not slightly off-kilter, person.  Yet I do regret something I never did.

Her name was Cheryl and she transferred to my high school as a sophomore. On the very first day of school that year, Cheryl and I were assigned to work as biology lab partners. The girl was ridiculously funny, bubbly, and warm.  She was also terrified at the prospect of not knowing a single person in our school of over 2,000 students. Cheryl was kind and accommodated my pathological aversion to dissection. She handled most of the slicing and dicing while I took care of the paperwork.

In many ways, Cheryl should have been placed on a higher rung of the high school social ladder than myself. I immediately recognized this. So when she kept asking me to hang out or do things, I put her off. I figured she would eventually transition into a cooler circle and leave me in the dust.

Sadly, Cheryl never got the chance. She was killed in a car accident as she and a friend from her last school were pulled over on the side of the road.  The truck did not see them and hit the car. Cheryl hung on for a few days in the hospital, but eventually died from her injuries.

I have felt guilty about this for almost 25 years. I have thought about Cheryl many times throughout my life, including the day I got married and the first time I held Daniel. These were things she never got a chance to do. What if I had only brought her into our circle of nerds? Offered her a place where she was welcomed and accepted? Maybe she wouldn't have been in that car that day, reaching out to old friends for a little support.

As time went on, I often tried to bring the newbie into my circle. Whether it was the college transfer student, the latest hire at the big insurance company, or the new mom to the block, I tried to make sure nobody went it alone. Even when I didn't "click" with a person, I hooked them up with people who shared their interests or backgrounds.  It was the least I could do.

Yet recently, I have gotten complacent. Lazy. It was easier to hang out with my close group of friends who understood each other without explanation. We always know where the punchline is going. We accept each other's baggage.  We even started joking around about getting shirts that read "No New People."  But that's when Miniature Friend made an important observation:

"You have GOT to get out and hang with people outside your comfort zone and do things you're scared of.  You can't spend your entire life walking only into rooms where you know everyone there.  If you don't, you are going to miss out on a lot of great people and never even know it."

Oh crap. 

So last Sunday, I walked into a room where I didn't really know a single person.  It was the first rehearsal for the May 5th Listen to Your Mother Show:

Photo credit: Sabrina Persico

Photo credit: Sabrina Persico

We all got up and took turns reading our pieces.  Some of the people I pegged as "serious" were rip-roaringly hilarious.  And some of the people I thought for sure were going to be funny tore my heart into a thousand little pieces with their moving readings. 

Afterwards?  I needed a drink.  It was like going on the most thrilling, scary, and unpredictable roller coaster EVER.

As luck would have it, we DID all go for drinks.  I was hanging out with people who didn't know me for the first time in forever.  Who would I offend with the absence of my verbal filter?  These gals would also not understand that I'm slightly deaf, a little blind, and can't remember anyone's names or faces until I have met them exactly 425 times.

It didn't matter.  The energy of the group and the different path each woman had taken to arrive at that moment converged to create something special.  Something magical.  I was welcomed into the circle without question or thought. 

So I won't be wearing that "No New People" shirt after all.  When I get on stage May 5th, I will again think of Cheryl, Miniature Friend, and this entire experience to help remind me to live a life without regrets. 

And I'm confident that nobody will regret buying tickets to attend this amazing show, so think about getting some today! TICKETS HERE

40 comments:

  1. So glad we all stepped outside our comfort zone. I am soooo grateful for the chance to get to know you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa & I feel the same way! Who knew I actually had any social skills left?? Can't wait to see everyone again at the next rehearsal!

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  2. I am so happy to be a "new friend" of yours. I think all of us felt that feeling of stepping out of our circle, of our comfort zones, and into something warm and wonderful.
    This is a beautiful post.

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    1. Thank you, Shannon - it's really taught me that sometimes the bigger the risk, the bigger the payout! So great to meet you!

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  3. Wish I could come. I could totally hang.

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    1. Oh, Kirby - I KNOW YOU COULD!!! (:

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  4. Yay!!!
    I love this so much.
    And we would have TOTALLY been friends in high school.

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    1. Did you wear Granny underwear in high school too? I was awesomely dorky. I can't believe you would have wanted to stand anywhere near me back then!

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  5. Great post, Marianne! I'm so glad we met. I feel as if we are south side kindred spirits :)

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    1. Southsiders are my peeps, I can't deny it. But look at me all fancy & branching out! Who would've thunk?

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  6. Don't you wish you could send a note to Cheryl's parents and let them know that their daughter isn't forgotten and has made a lasting impact on someone's life? I have stories like that one of a young person (several, actually) gone too soon. They left an impact; all of them, and are not forgotten.

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    1. I am always a little scared to reach out, not sure how it will be rec'd. I sent letters to family members of people I knew who were lost on 9/11 and I still wonder if that was the right thing to do. Does it open a wound or help bring peace? I don't know. Thank you for reading, Tracey.

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  7. Love reading your posts. Thank you.

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  8. I saw this in my area, and decided I didn't want to do it for exactly the same reasons. i seriously teared up reading this post, because I feel like fear (of failure, I guess?) holds me back from some amazing experiences. Thank you for the inspiration, and good luck with the show, I know you'll be fantastic!

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    1. Oh, Kelly - I do hope you give it whirl one of these years! I think you would be so appreciative of the experience and how much you actually get out of it. Promise me! Next year! And thank you for your kind words. xoxo Mar

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  9. OK, my first instinct is to cry, but a close second is to just tell you ...that I meant every word I said, when I said that I loved you I meant that I'd love you forevvvvvvvver....sing it lady! You are awesome!

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    1. Where were you when I was in high school, Andrea?? And sorry. I will totally love you forevvvvvvver. Can we move on to Sting? Every breathe you take, I'll be watching youuuu.

      sorry...that one's kinda creepy. Aren't you glad you live in another state? One with MARTINI WALKS??

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    2. As long as I don't have to put on the red light!

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    3. HAHAHA. You are the BEST at this game. I bow before you.

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  10. Great reminder for us to get out of our comfort zones; I know I'm really bad about sitting at the same place at church weekly, thus only socializing with those close by during fellowship time; good reminder for this week (if I remember it by Sunday) to sit on the other side....(heart palpitations, I just don't think I can.....)

    seriously, great reminder and it looks like the rehearsal and afterwards was a great success!

    betty

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    1. Thanks, Betty! You can do it! Let me know how it goes.

      So do you think it would be "inappropriate" to drink wine at Rehearsal #2? Now that my "rep" is out there? No, right. You're going to say no.

      Ah well - there's always coffee....with Bailey's.

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  11. That is such a sad story. I try to live life without regrets too, but that would definitely be a hard thing to just shake off. I will admit that since Miss K was born I have become complacent and comfy in my little life with my tiny group of friends, the thought of shaking things up now scares me, plus I'm lazy as all hell. But I'm very happy to hear that you have stepped out and tried something, and if I lived anywhere near you I'd be buying tickets to that show, because from the website, it sounds awesome.

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    1. Being comfy and safe is sometimes just what we need, too! I think I just hit a point where I really needed to branch out a bit & I'm totally loving it! Thanks for the kinds words & reading!!

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  12. I was sad and then happy. Great post, girl.

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  13. A very touching and inspiring post Marianne. Thank you for sharing.

    MAM

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  14. Great post! It definitely is so easy to get comfortable in your zone and not open yourself up to new people/challenges. One of the reasons I enjoy blogging is because it often gives me the opportunities to meet new people and do things I wouldn't normally do.

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    1. Thanks, Diane! I can't believe all the amazing people I've met through blogging - it has really opened my world! Now tell me you're going to BlogHer so we can hang!

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  15. The timing on this post couldn't be better for me as I have been wavering on whether or not to sign up for a writing conference/retreat thingamabobber, something significantly outside of my comfort zone.

    I grew up an Army brat and was the new kid many, many times--I never really got good at it and for the past two decades, I've lived in the same town and I've basically been hiding out due to pathological shyness with a dash of poverty-induced inferiority complex. I've only recently started to see how badly I've been ripping myself off by not reaching out more, etc. This post is one more nudge in the right direction. So thanks. :)

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    1. Consider yourself nudged, and PLEASE write all about the writing thingamabobber! The idea of a writing conference has always terrified me - I'm convinced that I will be told to cease and desist. You, my friend, have NOTHING to feel inferior over. I love you more than bacon, and that pretty much bumps you up to Princess Kate status. Love, The Godblogger

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  16. holy moly you floored me with this post Marianne. I was NOT expecting this story. I cried for Cheryl, and I cried for you... no regrets, it is not the way for sane people. Seriously, you know that you couldn't have done anything and if anything, she has made you who you are today, strong, confident, and funny. It's wonderful that you have never forgotten that young girl and that you use her tragic story for greatness in your own life! You go girl... I am excited to see how the show goes. Well done! Big love Elle xo p.s. great use of a Romy and Michelle quote there... LOVE that film! xx

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    1. Oh gosh, Elle, thank you. You are so wonderfully kind. And I love that you love Romy & Michelle. I could watch it 100 times and still not get sick of it. Come to think of it, I may already have....

      xoxo Marianne

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  17. We all were so unwise in high school. We have to forgive ourselves for being young then. Why do we have such a hard time forgiving children how! They reflect our parenting perhaps, so we expect them to turn our like Princess Kate or some other ideal.

    This is an excellent, heart warming post. Glad you will be speaking in May.

    Hugs,

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    1. Thank you so much, Carol. I was kinda hoping for a Prince William type kid....but maybe I ought to reconsider?

      Seriously, your support means a lot. I'll be channeling you this May!

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  18. The one good thing about regrets is if we learn from them. Which you clearly have. I'm glad you had such a good time meeting new people.

    When I was waiting for my audition on Saturday, this woman walked up and said hello. I did the obligatory 'hi' and she said,'You don't remember me.' Then I looked harder and said, "Laurie!" I haven't seen her in ten years, one of those people I loved, yet completely lost touch with. This LTYM experience has already been beneficial, and if it goes nowhere else, I'm ok with that.
    (BUT, I did make my interviewer laugh out loud, so I'm hoping that's a good sign.)

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    1. I'm POSITIVE it's a great sign! Please keep me posted, Jewels, I am so over-the-moon excited that you decided to auditon! xoxo Mar

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  19. Unpredictable roller coaster of a post, lady! Here I am, on the verge of tears with Cheryl and then you mention the absence of a verbal filter - atta girl! I am so bummed that you're Chicago and not KC so there better be videos from 5/5!

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    1. Your wish is my command, Jennifer! Videos it is! Thank you for the kind words & understanding towards all those absent a verbal filter. (: Mar

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