When I started Junior High, I didn’t know anyone. I had gone to a French Immersion school that wasn’t in my district, and I decided that I didn’t want to continue with the French Immersion stream, so I went to the junior high in our area. I remember sitting in the gym on the first day of school during our orientation, or whatever it was, and feeling pretty out-of-place. Most people there were with their friends from Elementary, and I wasn’t sure how I would ever fit in with that. I hadn’t had a great experience in elementary though, so faces I didn’t recognize wasn’t such a bad thing. I just wanted somewhere to belong.
On the first day, I made a friend. And then by the end of the week I made more. I honestly can’t remember how I became friends with others, it just sort of happened. I was close with one girl in my home room, and she was friends with someone else, so they became my friend too, and it just grew from there. By the end of grade nine, I had my core group of friends that saw me through those awkward teenage years. Being teenaged girls, we had a few dramatic moments, but for the most part, those issues were caused by those outside that core group. By the time we started high school, we were all closer than ever. A few went to a different school, but the ones that I went to high school with were the best friends I could have asked for. We weren’t popular, but that didn’t matter. We did our own thing, and kind of flew under the radar, I guess.
Looking back on my high school days, there are far more good memories than bad. They certainly weren’t the best days of my life, but they were good. I know that the only reason that I had a good high school experience was because of the friends that I had. I was kind of dorky and actually liked school, but when I think about those formative years, I don’t think about the essays and the tests (besides my grade ten English class, because that’s when I decided to become a writer), I think about moments spent in the hallway by our lockers, mornings and afternoons spent singing in Concert Choir, looking for our crushes and gushing about that one time they talked to us in class.
After high school, most of us went our separate ways. Some moved to different cities, some went to university, some to jobs. That first year after high school ended, we made a solid effort to keep in touch. And then life happened, and we didn’t keep in touch so much any more. Fast forward to a week and a half ago, when we got together for dinner one night. I was nervous about it at first, because it’s been at least eight years since I’d seen some, and I never know how those reunions will go. I’m a classic over-thinker (as my husband can attest to), and I was scared that our time apart would have dulled our friendships, and make for an awkward evening.
I am so glad to say that my over thinking and worrying was needless. It was so nice to see everyone again, and be reminded of so many fun times, and other people who had been long forgotten. It was as if no time had passed. I’m sure that we annoyed many around us with our fits of laughter, but there’s no way I’ll apologize for that. It did my heart and soul good to be around the girls who were there for me in my formative years, and helped to make me the woman I am today. Afterwards, I kept thinking about a song from Wicked that described exactly how I felt about these six girls — “people come into our lives for a reason bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow”. I feel so blessed to have had such a great squad through difficult teenage years, and that even after all this time, we’re still friends. Thanks for all the great times and laughs over the last 15 years, girls! Let’s not wait another 9 years to get together again! “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”