It was not a welcoming environment. I still laugh when I think of the day that my mom drove me to the school and she thought that just because we pulled up to the drop off that I was actually going to get out of the car. She literally had to pry my fingers off the door handle. I was laughing and crying at the same time...I think we both were. She gave up and drove home with promises that we would try again the next day.
When I finally started school, I was dying inside. I HATED IT! There was one class however, where a nice, somewhat quiet guy went out of his way to make me feel welcome. His name was Ryan Palmer and he ended up being one of my closest friends in high school. We had a few classes together and one of those classes was debate. Our time in that class and traveling to debate tournaments sealed our friendship. Ryan was a great guy and was always looking out for me.
|Skyline High School's Debate Team 1991|
During our senior year, Ryan found out a few days before the senior prom that I had not been asked. He said that was never going to happen. He came up to me after class and said that although he did not have a lot of money, he wanted to take me to the senior prom. What a guy! We ate sandwiches from Subway with cans of Hawaiian Punch on the hood of his car and laughed as we listened to NPR. We joined up with a large group at the dance for pictures and games afterward. We had a great time and it was by far my favorite high school dance.
|Senior Prom 1991|
For years, I felt like Ryan was sort of like my guardian angel. He would show up every now and then in my dreams, but he was always trying to hide and stay out of sight. There was one particularly challenging time for me in college when I was feeling a little lost and confused about my future. It was at this time that Ryan came to me again in a dream. He was following me in a crowd and again trying to stay out of sight. This time I approached him and asked him if he was Ryan. His response was, "Of course." He then asked me why I was making the decisions I was and he reminded me that I was better than that. I woke up feeling like he was once again really looking out for me and helping to make sure that I was staying on the right path. It was a very powerful experience and one that I will never forget.
I bring this up only because I have always regretted that I lost contact with Ryan's family. They asked me to speak at his funeral. It was such an honor to pay tribute to such a great person and friend. As the years have passed, I have always wondered if his family really knew the influence for good that Ryan had on my life...even years after his death.
Well, today I was on facebook and noticed a suggestion on the friend suggestion tab. I clicked on it and there was Ryan's brother's name. I contacted him and we have exchanged emails back and forth today. I mentioned to him this guardian angel experience and it felt nice to let him know the influence that Ryan had on my life.