10 Years Ago I Dropped Out of High School {a long walk down memory lane}

My husband graduated high school ten years ago--the same year I dropped out of high school. Well, dropping out wasn't my plan, but it's what eventually happened.

When I left GCA (boarding academy where my siblings and I went to high school) after my sophomore year in 2002, I intended to return. I was going away on the adventure of a lifetime, accompanying a friend to her family's home in Mongolia for my junior year of high school (briefly mentioned in The Prodigal's Brother as a snippet of "my story"). I suppose I technically completed my 11th grade coursework through home study there. But the classes I actually spent time on and learned from most would more accurately be called Culture Adjustment 101, Family Adaptability, Home Cooking for Beginners, Faith 102, and Mongolian Language: Enough to Shop and Use a Taxi.

I did what I could to keep in touch with friends back home. E-mailing constantly, stalking the school's Web site to see updates and even getting published in the school's paper while away (something I didn't even accomplish while actually a student). I loved my experience in Mongolia, but what made it so special was knowing that I would soon be returning to my classmates, to my school, and to my "home."

That is, until January of '03 when my parents moved from our home of 5 years in Tennessee back to Kansas. At first, I wasn't phased. I knew GCA was where I belonged and their move wouldn't change that. They used to make the commute from Kansas to Tennessee when my brothers first started going to GCA so of course we could make it work for my last year of high school. But I soon realized that wasn't the case after returning home to Kansas. I saw how tight finances were and I volunteered to call it quits on high school. My parents didn't object and I didn't think anymore on what that really meant. At 16-years-old I got a full-time job at a local real estate office to save up for college, got my Good Enough Diploma (GED) in 2003 and completed online college courses before heading off to college in Nebraska in 2005.

Of course, there are brief moments that I regret that decision, but most of all, I am so grateful for the way God has led in my life.

Top 3 Reasons I Wish I Completed High School
(and would encourage others to do so)...

{1} Events from senior year of high school are an American rite of passage and skipping out on that forever excludes me from graduation, class trip and other important memories.

{2} While my friends were attending classes, hanging with friends, and attending school events, I was working full-time and hanging with my family--a little too grown up and mundane for the too short teen years.

{3} All 3 of my siblings graduated from GCA and therefore each have their senior picture hanging in the halls there; my picture isn't there. Or anywhere for that matter.

Top 2 Reasons I'm Glad I Dropped Out of High School
(even though I wouldn't encourage others to do so)...

{1} If I graduated from high school in Georgia, I most likely would have followed my friends to college in Tennessee and not been where I am today. Frankly, I like where I am today.

{2} I like living life off the beaten path, and dropping out of high school (but going on to graduate college) has definitely gotten a few eyebrow raises over the years. It's been a fun way to be "different."

Top 7 Memories of High School

{1} Hanging out with my besties. My roommate Heather ("Punk") that is practically polar opposite of me, but we always had deep metaphorical conversations and lots of laughs. And Eyren ("Peruvian"), my Peruvian twin who went out of her way to say "hi" and befriend me when I was sitting alone on a couch in the dorm about to cry out of homesickness (I was 13 at boarding school--give me a break). She inspires me to wear heels and curl my hair and {try} to be the hot, young twenty-something that I should be. Thanks for EVERYTHING Punk and Peruvian! I am so blessed to still have you two in my life.

{2} Rooming with Jessica. We roomed together my freshman year and her sophomore year. Because we were in different classes, we probably wouldn't have become friends if we weren't roommates. She always let me cry without needing an explanation, didn't get noticeably upset when I ate her swiss cake rolls, and let me dream about running away to Mongolia with her when life got tough (which, of course, eventually became reality). Thanks for being an awesome second sister, Jess!

{3} Swimming across a lake. And getting picked up by a state patrol for it. Then getting hall-bound back at the dorm and "expelled" for the remainder of the summer. It's the most trouble I've ever been in. Plus, the process of getting picked up in the state patrol's boat was hilarious. That is one of my favorite specific memories of high school. Thanks for the adventure, Kristin, Leah, Eyren, and Tim!

{4} Working in a cloffice. Okay, so I probably shouldn't consider grading algebra papers in a closet-office a great memory, but I spent so much time working in that cloffice that it's hard not to remember. Plus, I had the best coworkers {and boss} ever that always provided lots of laughs and entertainment.--thanks, Ashleigh, Elizabeth and Mrs. Staats!

{5} Living in the dorm. Unsuccessfully playing pranks on Freshman hall. Attempting a slumber party in the hall and hiding from the assistant dean when she demanded someone put the mattresses away. Sneaking out to go swimming. Pony Express letters to/from the guys' dorm. Hanging out with my sister and her friends freshman year, and borrowing her clothes. Thanks for the fun memories freshman/sophomore hall residents, and Trista and her friends :) And Nate and Ricky for writing my favorite Pony Express letters.

{6} My high school boyfriend and his family. My entire time at GCA was spent avoiding him, hanging out with him, dating him, and then getting over him. Of course he's part of my high school memories, good and bad. His sister was my RA and next door neighbor. His family is the coolest--very welcoming and friendly and grounded. He passed away this last year, and my heart goes out to his wife and family. Thank you for opening your home to me, Harpers! I feel so blessed to have known you.

{7} Hanging with my classmates. Goofing off in the hall in between classes. Jon and his "pot ministry." Sophomore "class" party. Good class vs. bad class. Disney trip.

Thank you for two awesome years of memories class of 2004!