Earlier this week I revisited my high school to see my brother’s choir concert. It opened up some mixed feelings. Truth to tell, I’m not as far out of high school as I’d like to pretend, and some of the experiences of high school are still raw for me. I’m assuming you all have your own painful and wonderful experiences of high school, though, so for today I’m just going to talk about field trips.
I’ll define “field trips” loosely as “any trip, related to a class, club, or team,which took the students away from school for an hour or more, not excluding those trips which occurred after the end of the school day.” Okay, so that isn’t a very loose definition. It excludes my awesome science classes and teachers, and the practical joke my Trig teacher played on us once, but I can talk about them later. Anyways.
I took trips with a variety of groups–the cross country team, until my asthma made me quit, the school choirs, and the art clubs/classes. They were simultaneously different and the same.
Trips with the cross country team were LOUD. We took the regular school buses, with their noisy engines that rattled the whole vehicle and windows that sometimes stuck open to let the wind barge through, and the team would talk or argue or sing campfire songs as off-key as possible. There was also a deep bond through the team. If you didn’t have money for food, the coach or your teammates would pay. Even the worst runners in a race got cheered as they crossed the finish line.
Trips with the choir were also loud, but in a different way. We had fundraisers–many, many fundraisers–and normally they were enough to not only pay for the trip but pay for us to get nice buses with comfortable seating. Sometimes they even had those DVD player things so the whole bus could watch Hercules or whatever other film we’d brought. We’d sing songs, of course, but usually they were from the radio or popular musicals, and unless someone was having a joke, they were always on key. There were lots of games, and jokes, and talking. I always heard people talk about the choir like it was a second family.
Art trips, which I took the most of, were different from either of those. One time we had a trip to an event at the nearby college, and instead of taking the bus we just walked. Normally, though, we took the traditional noisy yellow school bus. Aside from the sounds of the bus and the radio, those trips were kind of quiet. Whether it was because so many of us from different classes or because we were all introverted, there wasn’t as much talking on these trips. Not that there wasn’t social bonding and joking and telling stories and playing games, there was lots of those, but it wasn’t as pronounced as the others. I didn’t talk much. If my best friend came on the trip, I’d talk to her, but even then I didn’t talk through the whole drive. Many of us drew or slept or listened to our iPods. There was a lot of drawing, naturally. The bond between student and teacher was normally stronger than that between student and student, but there was still something extraordinary about art field trips and the interactions with other art students.
I may be biased, but I’m pretty sure artists are special people. The art trips were never as loud as the others, but there was something to them that I loved. Maybe it’s just the fact that while running and singing were wonderful to me, making art was always a major part of my life that I couldn’t think of surrendering. Taking trips to art museums and shows and all the other places we went with people who loved art as much as I do, people who weren’t the loudest or most popular, who screamed whatever sadnesses were happening in their lives on the pages of their sketchbooks, the weirdos with paint on their clothes and unnaturally dyed hair, and who were the best listeners on the planet and tried to make the world they saw into some sort of sense, who got as excited about the museums as I did, those trips were the best for me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because, while I loved the runners and the singers, I understood the artists. They were my people.
In high school, I tried to be a part of a variety of groups–drama, choir, sports, art. I resisted being told I was part of the art “clique” because I didn’t want to be part of just one awesome thing. Diversity is good. Spending the years in high school figuring yourself out is also good. I loved my times in choir and cross country, and wouldn’t trade them for anything. But when I finally started to realize who I wanted to be towards the end of high school, it was the the art clubs and classes, my experiences and friendships there, that made the most influence.
It took me a long time to figure that out, though it should have been obvious.