10 days until I’m 18.
This picture is from when I turned 14. A group of my friends threw me a surprise party at a local pizza shop. The “leader” of the group’s sister worked at that shop, and they organized a whole table, pizzas, and even a cake. 8th grade… those were the days. I had two different groups of friends. The girl who was holding my eyes shut in this picture- we’ll call her Brooke for the purpose of privacy. Brooke and I had been friends from the day I moved to America in 2nd grade. We were friends until the end of junior year. We shared so many memories. Brooke is now a Soldier in the US Army. We don’t talk anymore, at all, but I really do wish the best for her.
Anyway, Brooke wasn’t really a part of the friend group that threw me the party, but they included her because they knew she was my best friend. I always appreciated that. That friend group has gone many different ways now. Many of them don’t talk to one another anymore. When High School hit, some people ended up “popular”. Some people went full “nerd”. Others were punks or jocks, and honestly I’m surprised one or two didn’t drop out of school.
Who was I in 8th grade? Time to look back to an awkward time of teenagerness. I wore not two, but one glove. I also wore a fedora more often than not, and people recognized me because of it. I was ridiculously punk because of it, or so I thought. Looking back, I understand why some of my friends called my Michael Jackson. The summer between 8th grade and freshman year, I “dyed” my hair purple with a Sharpie at band camp. Given, it was only a streak, but it probably looked so dumb. I’m still surprised seniors actually wanted to associate with me. I ran the mile in track, and I played soccer at the local Youth Soccer League. I got made fun of for that often, because most others in my grade were too old to play and found it childish that I played. It was actually downright bullying looking back, and as a result gym class (and the people in it) made me want to murder someone. I was an awkward trumpet player, not really good but also not really bad. I was third chair- back in the days our school administration allowed seating. They “outlawed” it sophomore year because it made other people feel bad about their seat (well no crap, that’s kind of the point). Other than that, I was your stereotypical young teenager. Worried about my weight (even though at the time I probably weighed around 115 pounds and I was 5′ 4″… I’d love to go back to that), worried about one pimple here and there, and I wore way too much makeup; dark eyeliner and sparkle eyeshadow from Claire’s. This was absolutely my “scene phase”. I’m not sure what stopped me, but I always wanted to cut my hair to have really thick bangs that mysteriously hung in front of my face. I drew on myself in Sharpie.
There was also the day my friend in science found the pyromaniac in me. He had a lighter with him, and I found this the coolest thing. He was a bit of a popular “badass” with a reputation for doing what he wanted. If you were his girl, you could be anything. I never wanted to be with him- I wanted to be him. Anyway, he had this lighter and it was shaped like a hot dog. It was actually incredibly dumb. We were sitting in science class, and the teacher was talking. I was always the “teacher’s pet”, especially in this class. She was the Student Council adviser, and an amazing teacher. She never really paid much attention to me, she trusted me. I never really messed around, but that day was different. My desk was next to his, and we were by the window. He takes out his lighter and shows it off. He lights it inside his desk. He hands it to me. I light it. I hand it back. He lights it, and he thinks it would be a smart idea to light a piece of paper on fire. To this day, I have no idea how the teacher never noticed, but this kid caught his desk on fire and successfully put it out in the middle of talking about microorganisms. The teacher retired two years later.
Sometimes I think about the days where walking to Taco Bell after school defined your popularity and the amount of glitter you wore decided who talked to you and wish life was that simple. Although… I never really was a fan of Taco Bell. I’m kinda glad we all grew up.
These days I wear less makeup, and thankfully I ditched the gloves and fedora somewhere along the timeline. I also lost most of that friend group (thanks high school), but I’m glad I know who my true friends are.
Life is weird, growing up is weird. But, there’s ten days until I’m legally responsible to adult. Let’s embrace that. I’ll be here all week with your nightly reminiscing of my youth.
Here’s to growing up.