Middle school was a life changing time for me; those two years were the beginning of outside influences on my personality. Before middle school I was a quiet but confident child that said whatever whenever which was never a terrible thing- my words harmed nobody and empowered all. I didn’t go out much preferring to sit in my room reading a book or playing with various pets, and yes- spending time with my family. I had lost interest in involving myself with the neighborhood kids and lacked friends otherwise. In school I concentrated on my studies or expressions of creativity opposed to making a ruckus and passing notes with other girls. Seventh grade science class changed that.
I met my friend, we’ll name her D, one day early on in the year. We had basic science together and we were just assigned one of those blasted activities that forced me to interact with the other students. Although I never fussed about these activities I would have much rather done the project on my own. Across the room sat a girl dressed rather collectively in long black shawl brown- what appeared to be hand sewn skirt, and black cut off faux leather boots. Her arms were laden with bracelets both bought and made and her hair had randomly strewn braids in it. I bee-lined it for this odd individual figuring if ever there was an opportunity to make a friend and be un-awkwardly paired for the next week- it was now.
When I arrived at her side there was no way to smoothly introduce myself. I lingered there for a moment, unnoticed by the girl, and watched what she was doing. She was drawing on a piece of already crammed paper with sketches of various dark paraphernalia completely oblivious to the students bustling around her seeking out lab partners- here was my introduction.
“I like your drawings.” I said tentatively. She didn’t respond. I placed my hand on her desk above the paper leaning in and restated “I like your drawings.” Apparently startled the girl jumps in her seat looks up and laughs- she laughs!
“Thank you!” She exclaimed after she was done laughing.
A little embarrassed and perplexed I asked if she would like to be my lab partner.
“Sure.” She simply said.
“Cool.” An awkward pause. “I’m Jade.”
“Nice to meet you.” I smile and hold out my hand for a shake. She starts to laugh again and takes my hand giving it two hard pumps. Just then another girl comes up to D- obviously they had already met- and asked to be her lab partner.
“We’re already lab partners, sorry.” D tells the other girl sincerely apologizing. She walks away and I’m relieved that I wasn’t dismissed- the usual in these scenarios- as her lab partner. This was the beginning to a long lasting friendship.
Over science class the ever boisterous D and I became quick mates. Her attitude complimented mine and I reveled in her spontaneity. Together we often caused an uproar and got reprimanded but she taught me that it wasn’t ever really that bad and it shouldn’t hurt my feelings like it had in the past. We began to rebel- the two of us against the world- in small middle-school-esk ways.
One day dismissed from class and sent to our lunch period we stood outside the lunch room and decided we had other more important plans- promptly. Quickly retreating before attendants noticed our departure we began to simply wander the halls with no purpose or direction. After a few laps around our dully shaped square school we became bored of talking studies people we didn’t know and the weather and began to run. Both of us wearing heavy leather boots with random bits of chain and cloth wrapped around them we were quite loud. To add to the noise our jackets had pins and arms many bracelets which we banged on lockers as we passed. Inspired after a momentary discussion of “The Breakfast Club” we began to yell at the top of our lungs.
“I want to be an air force ranger!” We bellowed together laughing hysterically and slapping our rings down on locker doors- having no care about our absence from lunch our reckless hollering or school property. D and I carried on this way for quite a while until one of her rings eventually became caught in a lockers latch almost breaking her finger; even then we found the entire event hilarious and doubled over onto the floors snickering about the whole thing until the bell chimed and students began filing into the halls.
I considered staying where I was- sprawled out on the floor- and wondered who would stand and stare, who would become annoyed at my placement and the inconvenience it was to them in the five minutes they had to reach their next class before becoming tardy, and who would laugh with me. D pulled me up off the floor though and we parted ways to our classes until the next day, unknowing of what commotion we would start to annoy our science teacher until then.
There is a wonderful freedom that youth presents kids on a golden platter. More often than not the kid in question will want more and turn it back to the kitchen repulsed at the offer. What youth don’t realize is that they are granted time when there are no consequences for running around the halls with your best friend and there’s a free ride home, dinner waiting on the table, and a free shower to wash the grime off in. Those are the least stressful times there will ever be again- and that they should cherish it. There are miraculous and astounding things in life- but youth is a premature reward to the hardships coming with adolescence and adulthood.
If D and I had understood what being an air force ranger was we probably wouldn’t have wanted to be one- or said we wanted to be one anyway; instead we would have laid in the grass and talked about the trees the sky and grasshoppers nearby with only one leg.