Derek Johnson Muses

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Without a Prom-ise

I never had a high school prom. As part of that homeschooling charm,  I didn’t have a centralized prom to go to. A couple of my homeschool friends were invited by others to our local high school’s prom, but I was not. It didn’t really bother me at the time: my boss in high school scornfully told me to skip it and a friend once told me I should consider myself blessed not to have a prom. But when I was staying in Dubuque, I saw a bunch of kids show up at the river wearing tuxes and riding in a limo, and my mind turned again to that ambiguous hole around age eighteen.

Of course, the person I was then was a shelter outsider who didn’t fit in (probably why I became an artist). That kid was living for the day he could move away from his parents, become a pastor, and prove he was better than everyone else. I always figured that it won’t make difference; even now, I rarely think back on who I was in high school.

High school itself is a mystery to me. I don’t get movies or TV shows about high school, even great ones. I just don’t relate to that kind of experience because I never had it. In many ways, I felt like I woke up knowing everything I needed to know already.

What was is prom, really? A fancy, formal dance to celebrate the end of a year at school. Would it matter to me that much if I were dating a teacher and she took me to prom? Probably not, although I would be nice to see what it’s like. But would it top my trip to San Diego to the 2009 Holiday Bowl? Not really.

Ultimately, I fixate on my prom because I wish I could have those years back and build something with people who were there. If it could only be.


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