OK, I just did the scariest thing recently—and no, I didn’t try sky diving, audition for “The Bachelorette” or find my first signs of crow’s feet.
Instead, I endured what felt like an equally fear-inducing endeavor: I filled out the paperwork for my 10-year high school reunion. And to be honest, I just didn’t feel quite old enough or as accomplished as I should be—to have to attend.
But despite my reservations, I will return to the beloved hole-in-the-wall locale of Ladysmith, Wis., this summer. It’s the largest city (even though its population is less than 4,000) in a 65-mile radius of Northwest Wisconsin that’s still stoplight-less and without a Starbucks, a movie theater with more than two options or a proper shopping mall (or any mall for that matter).
Like “Cheers” (remember that show?), it’s the kind of place where everybody knows each other’s name, not to mention his/her personal business, and the place to be seen is the local County Market
where everyone catches up on the local dish. And with few ties outside of my family and the house on 11th Street that I grew up in, it’s a place I’ve only returned to a handful of times since my college days in Minneapolis and move to Nashville thereafter. But I know one person who still lives in a yellow house on 11th who’ll be happy to see me—yes, Mom, I’m really coming to visit soon!
And when I sat down at my desk one evening attempting to communicate what I’d accomplished in the 10 years since I walked the long halls of Ladysmith High, I found myself in denial about being out of high school for this long. I’m not even married yet. I’ve yet to finish my novel. And I’m already 28…where had all the time gone?
As I tapped my pencil, I thought “Or perhaps like a good block of Wisconsin cheddar (like I'd know a good one from a bad one, but it's the imagery I'm after here, so work with me), maybe I'm actually getting better with age and experience.” At least I hoped so as my high school years were nothing short of awkward. Being one of very few Christians in school didn’t exactly make me popular, so I found my solace in writing for the school newspaper—something that fueled my passion for what I do for a living today.
It's funny, too, because at first, I began to feel a little pathetic when I wrote "ditto" and drew an arrow to my name when they requested my maiden name. Then I felt a little more sad and like a loser when I drew a line through the blank for a spouse/partner name, the names and ages of your children and wrote "1" next to "# attending reunion." But then when I came to the part about "describing the last 10 years of your life," I felt a whole lot better. I realized that I have, indeed, accomplished a lot in a decade—maybe not facilitating world peace but actually living out many of the dreams I've had since I was a teenager. Even if I was single.
I realized again how good God was in giving me the desires of my heart, despite taking the road last traveled with all the twists and turns, delights and disappointments. Unlike many of my classmates who did the family thing early (not that there’s anything wrong with that) with many of them having multiple marriages and divorces, I realize I still have falling in love with the right man to look forward to and not settling for the wrong ones along the way has paid off.
I guess if I hadn't walked down this unconventional road, I'd probably still be slugging it in the frozen tundra of my college city of Minneapolis. Now don't get me wrong, I loooove Minneapolis, (despite the weather, it's a fabulous city) but it was a safe haven for me. Packing up my car and a few belongings to move to Nashville was more difficult than you could ever believe. In fact, I still have some difficult days where I can't seem to reconcile some key things. But I digress...When it’s all said and done, I’m living in the place I’ve dreamt about for years and writing for the magazine and interviewing people who’ve inspired me tremendously.
And by the end of the whole daunting experience, I actually found myself smiling as I answered the final question: "How has your time at Ladysmith High School made a difference in your life?" That was easy.
"I'll always be grateful for my teachers, Mr. Baye and Ms. Mickelson who encouraged me in my love of writing and taught me a few tricks of the trade. Mr. Pederson always taught me to go after my dreams not matter how outlandish they seemed. And living in Ladysmith taught me to not be content. It made me want to explore this big, wide world we live in and see what it has to offer."
And believe me, I still have many more places to check out (Italy is on the top of the list right now) and a potential bestseller to finish. That's not so pathetic I guess...even if I am 28 and still have my maiden name.
Christa Farris currently lives in Nashville, Tenn. where she serves as the Editor for CCMmagazine.com, the Books and Music Editor for CCM Magazine and the Managing Editor of Special Projects for Salem Publishing.