I graduated from River Oaks High School in 1988. I began my time at River Oaks in fifth grade. Moving from Swartz public school to River Oaks private school, I was immediately behind my fellow students on several points, most notably multiplication tables. I still don’t care for math, and as I type these posts, I am realizing why I avoid and embrace certain things today. I have an aversion to crowds, perhaps related to my playground experiences, a strong reluctance toward attending parties, perhaps based on forced birthday spins, and an affinity for the quiet, withdrawn people in the corner, because I was one, am one, married one, fathered one or two (jury is still out on one) and have always related to them. On the other hand I was so envious of those who seemed to be enjoying themselves in the crowd. I just could not get there.
But I’ve skipped ahead and don’t want to. If the reader wants to skip ahead, no one is saying not to…
River Oaks – Fifth Grade. Another social start over. This time I am neither the athletic nor the smart kid. Just the new kid. If in fifth grade I was the new kid, in sixth grade I was mostly invisible. For what its worth, many “invisible” people quickly adapt to this quality, thereafter choosing invisibility over being a spectacle and therefore the brunt of jokes.
So there I was – a Baptist boy in a private school with people who had other religions and value sets. This was certainly not new – I was just becoming aware of it. These kids represented the wealthier of Monroe, and there were no “races” present in this school other than Caucasian, Jewish, and the one representative (family) of the ancient Egyptians. That was obviously cool. Our janitorial staff and some of the food workers were black. We had to be careful not use certain words around them, so that we would appear respectful.
I had been taught the stories of the Bible, had been “saved” and baptized, and knew that I should not curse, drink alcohol, dance, or look at girls the wrong way. I had caught up to my fellow students academically, and felt like I was developing some friendships. In seventh grade we moved to a new building and I was discovering that I had some talent as a drummer. This was therapeutic and I gained some trusted friends here. I am happy to say I am still in contact with many of these today. One that I’m no longer in contact with was Tamara Williams. She was a couple of grades older than me, but she counseled me through what would be some of the darkest times of what I grew to recognize as depression. Little did I know of the rough seas that lay ahead.