I went to my last ever Back to High School Night earlier this month. It was a rush, reenacting scenes three decades past: the jarring bell signaling the end of homeroom and beginning of first period, the intercom droning on in the background with nobody paying attention, the classroom doors flung open simultaneously along the long hallway, the swimming upstream to your next class.
I could tell who the popular girls were in school in their time; they're still the popular ones now. I wasn't one of those. Nor was I one of the kids who stood alone in the weeds against the fence at recess. My niche was somewhere in between, and I had commerce with both groups and intimacy with neither. The clique that embraced me was a smallish one, which I landed in by default when the English teacher said they were short a person for debate club.
On the sophomore field trip there was one bus going to Rocky Point Amusement Park and the other to the beach, and I went with Rachel on the Rocky Point trip rather than with my group because Rachel had no friends. Don't think too highly of me for that; in some twisted way I did it more for myself than for Rachel-it's complicated.
I noticed things are still complicated 30 years later. We had 10-minute samplers of each of our kids' classes, and in my daughter's creative writing class I saw a couple I knew, and they came over to greet me and started to sit next to me. Then they spotted someone they liked better, and excused themselves and moved away. Back to School Night brought back that old feeling too.
When we got to AP art, I saw a woman whose daughter my daughter used to play with in elementary school. I sat down next to her and mumbled a few banalities before the teacher started her speech. A few days later my daughter told me she had run into the woman's daughter who mentioned how happy her mom was that I had talked to her.
All of which is to say that I will be glad when that particular drama is over with in heaven. And Jesus won't be looking over our shoulders at someone else when we're talking to Him, and our identities won't be so shaky that we will need to sit with the cool kids in order to feel OK about ourselves.