The most defining group of friends I have ever found came about in a sixth grade math class. I know, so Breakfast Club-esque right? It was there that I met the core group of kids that most greatly effected my youth…. A spunky short little squirt named Marisa. My serious, sometimes almost clinically insane new best friend, Beth. The free spirited, happy go lucky girl next door, and my other “bff for life” Ally. A curly haired, emotionally driven singer, Marcus. A hyperactive sporty goofball, Ray. The sweet and innocent pretty girl daydreaming about being promiscuous, Ashley. The bad-boy ladies man, Nick. And of course, a cute skater boy with the best smile and the shiniest black hair always hidden underneath his red hat, Mark. Little did I know back then but, the relationships that I formed with these kids at eleven years old would literally shape the rest of my life.
The teacher’s name was Mr. Hayward and his class was full of all the most popular kids that I remember from middle school. I just happened to be one of the “lucky” ones getting to sit in on all the action. There was always chaos ensuing in his class, people throwing spit balls behind his back, everyone passing notes. As fate would have it, I sat surrounded by eight individuals who would soon become my closest friends. It started off innocent, talking behind the teachers back and making jokes. Then we started meeting in the halls, walking to classes. We exchanged phone numbers and started sneaking calls at all hours of the night. We were all so different yet we felt this force drawing us in by something that felt more important than the type of clothes we wore or the hobbies we were into. Drama. Each one of us had a home life full of it and that was infinitely more important than anything else going on at school.
We spent a ton of time talking, whining and even crying to each other about our problems. No stone was ever left unturned. It was like we were in competition to determine whose parents were the most fucked up. There were catastrophic events happening to at least one of us almost every day and we truly believed the therapy we received by talking to one another was much more effective than any educated adult could possible give us. We even marched into the guidance counselors office one day and literally commandeered a room. I remember having this checklist that we were going over, it had all our problems listed in bullet form. Not even kidding, you can’t make this shit up. I know it really does sound insane but it’s the truth, we were gosh, its like we were the original Emo kids before that even was a thing. And these kids, they really got me. They were all so raw and real about everything they were going through. They felt things the same way that I felt them. They got it, the pain, the real gut wrenching turmoil, things that other kids our age just didn’t understand. And our parents? They were all seemingly out of the picture.
And then there was money, or the lack there of. In a town budding with Mc.Mansions, it was easy to feel like our families didn’t quite cut it. A lot of the other kids exuded this sense of self entitlement with their brand new clothes, fresh haircuts and shiny uncreased sneakers… it was exhausting. So even though my family was actually pretty financially stable, they had grown to that point right before my eyes which made me accustom to hand-me-downs and tag sales, heck I even liked them. But, at the time it became just another way to relate. Basically, If my people were poor then, so was I and that was cool. It was way more interesting to be the kid panhandling for cash or stealing than it was to actually have money, and that is who I surrounded myself with. Those were my friends, my best friends, the closest group I would ever have to date. They helped me through the next two years of angst and tears without basically without any adult influence or real qualifications. It was like Lord of the Flies, we were all just trying to survive.