In the beginning of August, I return to the Great White North to partake in my 20th high school reunion.  For the naysayers out there, Yes, I graduated high school and, Yes, I am that old.  It’s true.  In preparation, I crawled into the dark storage area of my house and pulled out yearbooks, a cheap photo album and stack of newspapers.  I didn’t realize it, but I was trying to rediscover who that person was 20 years ago.

So, here are the facts (I’ll post next on my reactions):

  • moved to West Fargo late summer of 1986.  I was 16.
  • registered for school with my Mother at the old high school (they were building a new one for the following year)
  • chose Journalism I & II for electives (vaguely, probably incorrectly, recall my mother suggesting it as possibly something she took)
  • local restaurant (Valentino’s Ristaurante) within riding distance on my ten-speed was looking for dishwashers, I applied (mother, step-father wanted me out of the house)… during interview, the manager, Rich, called me Andy.  It was my first interview and I was nervous.  Never corrected him.  Got the job.
  • School started and some kids from work brought the name Andy with them and I’ve been him ever since.
  • English and Journalism proved to be my favorite classes… I don’t really remember any others.
  • I made my first friends in English.  Carrie, Bryan, Jeff, Tony, Eric… those are who I remember.
  • Journalism forced me out of the box and my comfort zone.
    • I had to write some creative literature paper and read it.  I told the instructor I’d rather not read it in front of the class.  He pushed me until I explained I’d be embarrassed.  I did it, I was embarrassed (turned hot red) and I got an A.  The instructor asked me if I was interested in Speech.  Not me, no thanks.
    • as far as articles, the only one I recall writing was a movie review for Platoon; I focused on the two Sgt’s (Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe) serving as father figures to the young private Charlie Sheen.
    • I asked the paper photographer, Gregg Brekke, to teach me how to take pictures.  He told me the type of camera to buy (Pentax K1000, the work horse of cameras) and spent a few days showing me how to use it.
    • mostly, I talked with Mark, Kurt, Jay (was Jay in Journalism?… I think he was…) and others about how cool it would be just to write for a job while crushing on the editor of the paper… she was cute and talked to me.  She was nice.  A few years later, she invited me to her wedding.
  • the rest of my was subsumed by Val’s and my other friends… Craig, Dean, Carrie (same from English… she wanted a job and I told her to go apply there).  It wasn’t until the next summer that I “partied” with anyone, but I lived there as much as they’d have me.  People were nice, they talked to me and I was good at my job.  More often then not, I rode my bike to work that winter along the cleared city streets while Craig, Dean or one of the busboys/delivery guys would give me a ride home after work.
  • at the end of the year, the Journalism instructor recommended me for editor of the paper for the following year.  This was his last year, so I was never sure if he thought I was a good choice or just didn’t care… an English teacher who also instructed the Yearbook staff was taking over
  • Mark thought it would be good for us (and probably score some browny points) to go to a Yearbook/Journalism few day “camp” that summer she was taking students to.  I don’t know what I learned about journalism, but I did find out you could sniff rubber cement and that the other kids and our instructor were ok.
  • That summer at Val’s, I moved up to line cook/pizza guy and started hanging out with the older guys (Jeff, Todd, Tom, Steve, Rich).  After a long night, Craig, Dean and I would end up at one of their places mooching beers with Carrie joining every now and then.  She was cool, however, and actually had friends and a boyfriend.
  • In an attempt to get me out… away… whatever, my folks sent me to spend a week with an old friend from a city we had lived in a couple years ago.
  • Shortly after returning, Carrie threw a party at her house.  It was an odd mix (for me) of work and school friends.  Bryan, Craig, Dean, Carrie and others… later we would dub it Puke Fest due to the gross amount of beer and wine coolers that were consumed and subsequently vomited up around Carrie’s parents finished basement…
  • A week or so after the party, Carrie and Dean began dating.  That was the end of our trio, though I spent time with each separately.
  • When school started, I was hanging out more with Mark and Jay.  Mark really thought I needed a girlfriend.
  • My main course was Journalism.  I was friends with most everyone.
    • Carrie started as my assistant editor and we wrote a film review column together until she dropped the class.
    • Mark and I, then Bryan and I wrote a column called “With Pen in Hand…”.  For Mark and I, it was more of a satirical look at school, organizations, the like.  When Bryan and I did it, it was just weird ramblings of things we both found funny.
    • I added in editorials and bad, somber poetry to every issue.
    • The rest of the time I helped the other student contributors on coming up with article ideas, building lists of questions and editing.
  • Overall, I had decent grades, pulling in A’s or B’s without really applying myself other than last minute cramming
  • At Val’s, the assistant mgr responsible for the busboys/delivery staff and hostesses hired a new group of girls (I liked Curtis) and we started into an era of Hostesses and Bus Girls.  It was my constant mission to get any and all of them to come party with us.  Nothing ever came of that for me personally (in a 17 yr old male way), but I made some casual friends and one good friend.  Kathy was a hostess and became my movie buddy.  Of all the people I knew at Val’s or felt close to, Kate (as she now is called by everyone but me) is the one person I’ve stayed in contact with.
  • the basketball team made it to state that year and since my parents were out of town, I volunteered to drive a few of my friends from school across the state to attend.  I don’t think any of us told any of our parents we were going and it’s one of the most spontaneous things I have ever done.
  • halfway through the year, my mother said they’d help me with college if I went for “computers”.  I knew I wanted to write and told her so.  If they didn’t want to help me with that, that was ok.  I joined the Army Reserve as soon as I turned 18 and planned on going to basic training late that next summer after my senior year.  In all fairness to me, I did pursue a dual major in English Lit and Film and came somewhat close to completing it before life reset that dream and I found new ones.
  • After I turned 18, I could sign myself out of school.  My  buddy Bryan and I would go have beers.  He lived across the street from school and we’d wave at the marching band as they practiced.  I enjoyed it probably as much because he was president of the band at the time.
  • Graduation went off just fine.
    • There was no party at our apartment.  My grandparents came up.  It was the first time I had seen them and my brother in a couple of years.
    • Someone had a great idea to get the class to rent out as much of a camp ground near Devils Lake as we could (ended up getting around half of it, I think), so that’s where most of us went.  There were tents and people sleeping in cars or not sleeping at all.  It was a good time.  I actually talked to a girl.
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