What high school didn’t teach me:

 

TAXES

Mostly taxes.

 

See also: rent, bills, budgeting, basic vehicle maintenance, basic relationship maintenance, compassion, forgiveness…

 

But mostly taxes.

Because what is a deduction? And what’s a dependent?

And who can I depend on?

And what if I can’t depend on them like they depend on me? And what do I do when they leave… And I depend on them still?

And I can’t help it?

 

High school didn’t teach me how to be human.

 

It didn’t teach me happiness and contentment

Didn’t teach me how high and low life really is– didn’t teach me the mountains and the valleys

Didn’t teach me identity outside of a paragraph

Didn’t teach me how to define myself outside of sentences and similes and predicates or that the value of my life would be predicated on the fragments of my family

 

High school didn’t teach me family

Didn’t teach me how to plan a decent funeral

Or how to say goodbye to a mother or father or friend before you’re ready

Or how to “still be friends” afterwards

 

They don’t teach you how to let go of what ruins you

And how to let certain things undo you

And how to unlearn what rules you

And to strengthen that thing that pulls you out of bed in the morning or how to pool together your several selves and become whoever it is you’ll be, after sifting through what you did learn in high school

 

They don’t teach you how to be lightning trapped in a cloud

Or how to change the world every day that you wake up

Or how not to leave scars when we touch each other

And how to touch each other often as friends do, and not always only lovers and not always only acquaintances

 

They don’t teach you that you can do everything right and still lose

 

You can go to school all these years and still not find a job doing something you love, or a family you love, or a reason to live

 

They don’t tell you that you won’t know the kid next to you forever

That boo thang probably won’t be your sweetheart decades down the line,

That you and your best friends ain’t goin’ to the WNBA or the next Olympics.

That your soul mate will find himself in the arms of another and your best friend will find herself in being a mother, just like we all find out who we really are in the things we aren’t ready for or maybe shouldn’t be doing in the first place.

 

High school taught me safety.

Taught me a worker’s mentality and cookie cutter dreams and the nightmare that comes from being different and daring.

 

I learned how to be grounded. How to be sensible. How to be firmly planted and comfortable and crushed and comfortable.

 

High school taught me that mistakes become less acceptable as you get older.

And showing signs of getting older is not acceptable as you get older.

And that while we’re all busy trying to look the same, we might as well act the same too.

Because who learns from doing everything right anyway?

And who really gets good enough sleep at night anyway?

And who can really balance getting harder, better, and stronger the more they have to fight anyway?

In the end, I’m a number. I’m a statistic. I’m a body and brain

 

I’m Batman or the Joker, I’m Spider-Man or Electro, I’m X or Magneto, I’m Martin or Malcolm.

I’m the special of the day.

I’m a nice girl without options, I’m good kid stuck in Compton

or Detroit

or Chicago

I’m the bully, the dealer, the thief, the killer

That never got caught.

I’m marijuana before big business or the Nicki that Wayne met back when I was in high school

And we’re all just waiting to see how long it takes homie next to us to become a villain.

And we’re all just waiting to see how long it takes you to become a villain.

We’re all just sitting, watching, waiting to see how long we have til we all become villains.