Monday, January 29, 2007

Friends part 1 (birth to tenth grade)

This week I'm going to blog about my friends. I'm attempting to do this in chronological order, oldest friends to newest, which means there will be some posts that deal with more than one friend, and some posts will focus on specific, significant friends. I'm using initials instead of names because some of these people might not appreciate their business being all over the internet. You might see yourself if you're lucky.

I was born in the early 1970's, so I've got thirty-odd years of life behind me. Having moved, on average, every two years until age seventeen, I accumulated several short-term friendships that have all fizzled. This post will attempt to describe a few important kids I knew before I "grew up." With the exception of one, I've not had contact with these kids (now adults, I would assume) since high school or before.

Ages 0-4:
I really don't remember. I played with kids. They were cute and small and I hope they're all happy, healthy adults now.

Ages 5-9:
My best friend was C.S. She and I became friends in a pretty typical fashion: we began playing together on the playground at school in kindergarten. We had different teachers, so until we had a playdate (which was not a word back then) we were "recess" friends. The friendship stuck, and became firmly cemented by a few other factors: our brothers were the same ages and played well together, and, most importantly, our moms played well together. In fact, our moms are still friends, and I still hear news of C.S. today, although it's been fifteen years since we saw each other.

C.S. and I played "pretend" most of the time. Some of our pretend worlds were quite elaborate, filled with evil witches and fairies and princesses and all kinds of fanciful things. We also made up dances and played with her Barbies and were pretty typical little girls.

We attended different schools most of the time we knew each other, and I had a lot of problems getting along with the other kids. C.S. would get very upset when I described what was happening at school and sometimes expressed her dismay: "I wish I could go there - I'd give those mean girls an Indian burn!" Any friend who's offering a beat-down (even a minimal one) to your nemesis is a great friend.

My family moved twice in less than a year, with no significant friends left behind, so let's fast forward to junior high, the seat of the significant friendship.

Ages 11-13:
M.M. came from a "troubled" home. Her mom was hot in that way that really you don't want your mom to be, especially when you're an adolescent. We lived in a small town, and small town people talk. I have a feeling that M.M.'s mother was not nearly the harlot she was made out to be, as the rumor mill was quite amazing, but she had a bad reputation and that was what mattered in communities like that. I look back and think that if they'd lived somewhere else, like in a big city, that her family may have been much more socially-acceptable. But they didn't, and they weren't.

M.M. and I loved to sing, and we spent a great deal of time at school (before school, after school, during school) involved in music. We became "BFFs" in seventh grade, and I supported her through her parents' divorce. The divorce was ugly and bitter, and it broke M.M.'s heart. It also left M.M.'s mother in financial ruin, losing her house, her telephone service, and sometimes it seemed, her mind. M.M. stayed positive in eighth grade, despite the challenges she faced at home, dreaming of a better life someday when she would be a famous singer.

Due to the custody arrangements, she went away the summer between eighth grade and ninth grade to live with her dad. I was busy that summer with lots of travel. I also experienced my first real kiss, and grew up a little, all without M.M.

Despite the fact that she and I had exchanged letters and even called each other a few times, things didn't just slip back into place when she returned. We tried, and maybe we tried a little too hard, sneaking out of my parents' house to bring a tape to the radio station's DJ of us singing (ugh, embarrassing, and, TOTALLY BUSTED - grounded for life, it seemed). The aftermath of that was hard. It was made clear to me at home that M.M. was a bad influence (I maintain that neither she nor I acted as the "leader" in that stunt - it just happened). It was made clear that my friendship with M.M. was not something my family supported or appreciated. And somehow I got the message, and things became strained. (I'm pretty sure that M.M.'s mother had a very similar conversation with her as well.)

M.M. and I had a huge argument a week or two later, and I said some really awful things. I also wrote a cruel note to her. Not my proudest moment, and the final nail in that friendship's coffin. I drifted through ninth grade without a best friend, and was quite relieved when my parents announced that we were moving out of state.

I stayed in touch with a few other girls from that town though high school, and I heard from them that M.M.'s family had moved to another town and that M.M. had really gone into a downward spiral of alcohol and sex. I hope those were just rumors, but I bet they weren't. I hope she's okay.

Age 14:
We arrived in the next place about a week before I started tenth grade. My dad was finishing his M.B.A., and we knew we would live in this town for exactly one year, maybe even a little less.

The great thing about moving as a teenager is that it gives you the opportunity to start over. It also gives you a chance to try on a different persona. That's what happened in my sophomore year of high school.

I tried on theater, and it was a great fit. Through the school's theater department, and the associated productions, I met a really great girl, K.S. K.S. was not pretty, but she was smart, funny, and interesting. We liked the same music and shared a similar sense of humor. She's the friend I miss the most of those "lost in the move" friends. The last I heard from her was in college. She had been studying in Central America and something really terrible happened to her, and her parents did the most horrible thing and said it was her fault. She was climbing back from the depths of depression, and we lost touch. I hope she's okay now.

We moved, as planned, that summer. My last two years of high school were in a new school in the suburbs where I was faced with new social challenges and the task of reinventing myself again.

To be continued.

1 comment:

ald said...

This brings back lots of memories, but sadly, I can only remember a couple of the names. I guess that means we're getting old :^/