In high school, there was an abandoned school bus in the woods where kids would go to party.
I tell my friends in England about it because they can’t believe how American it is. A school bus! In the woods! Did people drink from red plastic cups? Did the cheerleaders wear their uniforms and make out with the football players like in the movies?
This is the part where I’m forced to admit that I don’t know.
My Monday mornings in high school looked a lot like this: I sat down at my desk in Mrs. Cannady’s homeroom, pulled out the homework I was supposed to have done over the weekend, and scribbled down answers as I eavesdropped on the kids behind me talking about The Bus.
I was never invited. Is it the kind of thing you get a formal invitation to? Either way, I never knew about it until Monday morning. And even though I wouldn’t have gone (probably), I would’ve liked to feel like I could have if I wanted to. I didn’t even know where The Bus was.
When I tell the story now, I mention that the fact that my dad was the preacher at the biggest church in town might have had something to do with it. That the reason my invitation got lost in the mail was that if the preacher’s daughter showed up, then the likelihood of everyone’s parents finding out what was going on in the woods increased by about 1000%. And maybe that was it.
But for 16-year-old me, sitting in that desk in Mrs. Cannady’s room, those overheard conversations might as well have been, “We didn’t tell Faith about it because she’s weird and fat and ugly, and we hate her.”
Fast-forward 16 years, and although nearly everything has changed, when I scroll through Instagram and land on a picture of girls I know at a party that I didn’t get invited to? I can hear those Bus stories all over again. Except now The Bus is The Pub or The Cinema or My 30th Birthday Party.
I think we think we should be invincible. We think that when we’re grown up and know who we are, it shouldn’t hurt anymore when we’re forgotten and uninvited. But it does. It still does.
It always does.
The difference is not that we suddenly don’t care whether we’re invited or not. It’s just that when the initial sting wears off, we know that our absence from The Bus says nothing about who we are. And that when we’re uninvited, we can throw our own freaking party.