Freaks and Geeks Revisited

Like many of the things I do, re-watching Freaks and Geeks doesn’t really make a lot of sense. It’s only one season long, and there’s lots of other things I’ve never even seen. Parenthood. House of Cards. The West Wing. Stranger Things. The OA. But, I found myself firing it up in spite of all of those things, and bingeing anyway. Putting myself back into a weird world of nostalgia and melancholy and memory and pain and fantasy, since Lindsey really is some weird amalgam of who I would have wanted to be in high school if I had made slightly different choices.

Instead, she is me my first two years of college, after I had the opportunity to break free of the two spheres of influence that constrained the contrarian in me. One was the completely regimented world of my parents’ proscribed rules for coming and going and my internalized view of who I was in relation to that — getting nearly perfect grades, never getting in trouble, being a really fucking good kid, who never would have dreamed of even writing the word “fuck.” And the other was the secondary set of rules and regulations put upon me by a fundamentalist Christian best friend who didn’t believe in dancing to “secular music” (even though I never went to a high school formal and she went to every one with a date), wanted me to get baptized in her church (which freaked my mom the FUCK OUT), and had me get “saved” by committing to the fact that Jesus was my “Lord and Savior” (even though, I was raised Lutheran and went to Sunday School every. fucking. week).

It wasn’t until I got down to the rip-roaring sin fest of Naperville, IL, to go to North Central College (not to be confused with North Central *University,* an actual Assemblies of God college in Minnesota) that I was able to fuck up my life on my own, realizing I could stay up as long as I wanted, there was no one there to make me go to class, and my procrastination was only going to be managed by me. Unbeknownst to me, my first major depression was looming on the horizon as well, but that was all going to be revealed in the 20/20 vision one receives in the hindsight of getting diagnosed with manic-depression at the ripe old age of 27.

But even with those small rebellions and the beginnings of a serious mental illness lurking on the edges, I still hold hands with two worlds at that point in my life. I have my straight-edge BFF RA friend, Shawn, and the myriad of girlfriends who also grew up really smart in small towns, who are really into the guys who are in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (the Dwyer twins spring to mind), and much like when Lindsey is shocked to find her super Christian friend, Millie, kissing a boy she says is her boyfriend (!!), I was floored to find out that my mega Catholic roommate, Kathy, had a super steady back home in Joliet that she was getting down and dirty with on the reg. (This would later be a boon to me when I decided to make the move in getting rid of my own virginity in our very own dorm room with my first love, Kirk.)

But I didn’t drink and I didn’t smoke and I didn’t really even have much of an urge to, even though I was starting to hang around with and idolize a group of older people at the radio station who definitely were into drug culture — at least Jen and Jack were, who were part of the “clique” that I was rapidly melding into and finding an identity with. Learning about all sorts of music (new and old) that I had never heard of before and having my naïvete peeled away like layers of a onion, an experience I was enjoying. No one ever pressured me to do anything, and I was able to observe and absorb things at my own pace, much like Lindsey does on the show.

I’m bummed that Freaks and Geeks only lasted one season. I’m so curious what happens to Lindsey after — Me? I ended up failing out of college after I went through a major depression. I didn’t drink my way out of college or anything. That didn’t start until I had already blew my college career, and I ended up hanging out with the people who were still going to NCC the year after me. It started out with me supporting a friend as a non-drinker, but you know what they say — you  hang around a barbershop long enough, you’re eventually gonna get your haircut. And get my hair cut, I did.

Because I wasn’t in school, and was working a full-time job, learning how to drink and smoke became my extracurricular activity. There was no more homework, no more papers to write. I had no more stress about things that had to be turned in on time. Now, there was the matter of having to show up for work, but back in that day, hangovers weren’t really a thing for this burgeoning young alcoholic.

There’s no way to know what becomes of Lindsey. I’ve never stopped being a Geek, and I’ve never stopped being a Freak. I was going to try and arrange my 25th year high school class reunion this year. I’m sort of glad that it didn’t happen, given the election results and everything. I honestly don’t know what that would have looked like — I don’t know if I could have handled some of the people or what they might have said. I couldn’t have been very nice about it, you know? Like, I might have kept my voice at a decent volume, but I wouldn’t have minced words.

Then again, I might have lost my shit. Hard to say.

The point is, I really just want everyone to like me. It’s actually a problem. A “character defect,” if you will. But at the core of it, the flip side, is a genuine desire to see everyone for who they are. To see the good in people. To see a little of myself in everyone. I struggle with that — I fail a lot. But I want to believe that everyone is good. I want to believe that that spark, that energy, that makes up our souls/our spirits, connects us all somehow. And that there’s gotta be a way to get to that.

I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it all out.

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