“My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone” #TheOnlyProblemWasWithYou

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For all the times that you rain on my parade
And all the clubs you get in using my name
You think you broke my heart, oh girl for goodness sake
You think I’m crying on my own, well I ain’t

And I didn’t wanna write a song
Cause I didn’t want anyone thinking I still care
I don’t but, you still hit my phone up
And baby I be movin’ on
And I think you should be somethin’
I don’t wanna hold back, maybe you should know that

My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone
And I never like to admit that I was wrong
And I’ve been so caught up in my job, didn’t see what’s going on
But now I know, I’m better sleeping on my own

Cause if you like the way you look that much
Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself
And if you think that I’m still holdin’ on to somethin’
You should go and love yourself

And when you told me that you hated my friends
The only problem was with you and not them
And every time you told me my opinion was wrong
And tried to make me forget where I came from

— Justin Bieber “Love Yourself”

“My Saving Grace” #OhButSheWasWrong

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Sunday morning, man
She woke up fightin’ mad
Bitchin’ and moanin’ on and on
‘Bout the time I had
And by Tuesday you could say
That girl was good as gone
Then when Thursday came around I was all alone
So I went for a drive to clear my mind
Ended up at a Shell on I-65

Then I won a hundred bucks on a scratch-off ticket
I bought two 12-packs and a tank of gas with it
She swore they were a waste of time
Oh, but she was wrong

I was caller number five on a radio station
Won a four day, three night beach vacation
Deep sea señorita fishin’ down in Panama
And I ain’t gotta see my
Ex-future-mother-in-law anymore
Oh Lord, when it rains it pours

Now she was sure real quick to up and apologize
When she heard about my newfound luck
On that FM dial
And it’s crazy how lately now
It just seems to come in waves
What I thought was gonna be the death of me
Was my saving grace
It’s got me thinkin’ that her leavin’
Is the only logical reason

That I got the last spot in the Hooters’ parking lot
And the waitress left her number on my check with a heart
She picked up on the first ring when I gave her a call
And I only spent five bucks at the Moose Club raffle
Won a used 4-wheeler and three free passes
For me and two of my buddies to play a round of golf
And I ain’t gotta see my
Ex-future-mother-in-law anymore
Oh Lord, when it rains it pours
When it rains it pours

— Luke Combs “When It Rains It Pours”

The American Family Has a New “Champion”??

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Excerpt: The American family has been under siege for decades—economically, legally, politically, and culturally. At this point, the threats to our families are not only myriad, but also existential.

Good jobs are vanishing and wages no longer stand a chance against inflation, preventing parents from being able to give their kids all they need to thrive…

American parents are upset and scared, and rightly so. Not unjustifiably, they also feel powerless. Our elected officials—who are supposed to be one of our leading lines of defense—have largely been missing in action for a long, long time…

Families need someone to keep our elected leaders honest and pressure them to protect what we cherish. Amereican Principles Project, already the country’s premier pro-family organization, will now take up that specific charge in a bold way.

To save the family and America, this Father’s Day, APP is launching the Big Family. It will:

  1. Organize: There are nearly 130 million families in America. We will organize them in politics. Families will be stronger when united with other families, especially those that share their values.
  2. Educate: Life is tough as it is. Most families don’t have time to keep up with the barrage of attacks against them. The Big Family will have you covered. We’ll keep you updated on all the major threats. We’ll also show you how to fight back.
  3. Engage: Slimy lobbyists have had way too much influence in this country. We’ll take them on by engaging our members in legislative battles to make sure your family is represented and safeguarded. The Big Family will combat bad legislation and strive to help pass good legislation.
  4. Vote: Politics isn’t “downstream from culture”—it’s the driving force of culture. Changes in the law lead to changes in culture. The left has understood this for years. The Big Family will keep track of the most important elections in the country and organize our members to turn out the vote in a way America has never seen before. And vitally, it will be relentlessly involved in politics, from the local level to the national stage, from school boards to the Oval Office.

APP has already identified the distinct threats that the left’s policies present to the American family. We have effectively invested in elections by targeting and engaging persuadable voters. We have successfully exploited the left’s extreme stances to deliver wins for pro-family candidates. Our track record speaks for itself.

And here’s a real surprise– most of the comments are skeptical.

McCormick: So you’re looking for donations?

Matthew: Thank God! A PAC/thinktank! That’s a way better idea than going to church, getting married and starting a family.

FJR: I’ve often wondered who is laying siege against American families. Are these people with no families of their own? With few exceptions, everyone I know is part of some family. Could it be the term family is being hijacked for political purposes?

Wydra: Summary: Give us your money so we can hire our own slimy lobbyists to counter their slimy lobbyists.
Oh and Family Values of course.

Durass: Their solution to slimy lobbyists is…. to lobby. I guess they’ll all promise to take showers first.

Bumbershoot: What “pro-family issues”? This article doesn’t even mention a single one!

Fromco: They mention wages and good jobs, but they’re right-wingers, so they won’t be doing anything about wages or good jobs unless they can think of a way to ensure the benefits only accrue to heterosexual Christian married families.

Tabledweller: My main pro family issue is the cost of healthcare. I don’t see it mentioned above.

Bkh: Nice, more politics. The left is not the only problem facing families. The right brings a nice set of hinderances and obstacles, too.

Dodo: Too many hypocrites use “pro family” to propagate their agenda.

JonF311: I recall Florence King (no liberal she!) saying that when demagogues start chanting “:the children! The children!” you’d better check your wallet and your liberties.

“Nobody Knows Like Me” #Oldies

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She ain’t got no money
Her clothes are kinda funny
Her hair is kinda wild and free
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

She talks kinda lazy
And people say she she’s crazy
And her life’s a mystery
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

There’s something about her hand holding mine
It’s a feeling that’s fine
And I just gotta say
She’s really got a magical spell
And it’s working so well
That I can’t get away

I’m a lucky fella
And I’ve just got to tell her
That I love her endlessly
Because Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me

“I’ve Got a Bite” LOL

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Well I love her
And I love to fish
I spend all day out on this lake
And hell is all I catch
Today she met me at the door
Said I would have to choose
If I hit that fishin’ hole today
She’d be packin’ all her things
And she’d be gone by noon

Well I’m gonna miss her
When I get home
But right now I’m on this lake shore
And I’m sittin’ in the sun
I’m sure it’ll hit me
When I walk through that door tonight
That I’m gonna miss her
Oh, lookie there, I’ve got a bite

Now there’s a chance that if I hurry
I could beg her to stay
But that water’s right
And the weather’s perfect
No tellin’ what I might catch today

So I’m gonna miss her
When I get home
But right now I’m on this lake shore
And I’m sittin’ in the sun
I’m sure it’ll hit me
When I walk through that door tonight
Yeah, I’m gonna miss her
Oh, lookie there, another bite

Government Failure on Immigration?

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Excerpt: This entirely predictable series of events has nevertheless given rise to another one of those bizarre cycles of sham indignation that have become the defining feature of American public life. Republicans who had defended the last administration now decry the chaos at our southern border, and, in response to Trump’s strong showing among Hispanics in last fall’s elections, some wags joke about the White House building a new wall to keep his supporters out. Meanwhile earnest progressives who had supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren during the primaries are feigning outrage that the candidate they once claimed to oppose for very clear reasons is exactly the sort of president they imagined he would be.

These facile recriminations distract us from the truth, which is that immigration remains an intractable problem. By this I mean that there is simply no feasible solution that is as humane as progressives and their scattered allies (among Catholics, for example) might desire, nor is there a competing hardline approach that would appease the business interests who remain ultimately responsible for the priorities of the conservative movement.

And a few of the comments on this debate–

Jtshaw: I favor generous immigration policies, but I want immigrants to be carefully vetted and admitted in a fully legal, orderly process.

The problems of recent years, especially the increases in unaccompanied minors, can largely be traced to: 1) two U.S. political parties using immigration as a cudgel to score political points, thus failing to address long-past-due reforms; and 2) conditions in Central and South America descending to such a hellscape that people feel they have no choice but to leave no matter the dangers of the travel and the uncertainties of the destination.

When local conditions are so awful that parents decide they have no choice but to send their children north, then no amount of wall-building or militarization of the border will stop the attempt. They are not stupid, they love their children, they know what the risks are, and still they think they have no better option. The United States bears some responsibility for this debacle given its long history of intervening in Latin America to prop up a legion of massively corrupt governments (hey! at least they aren’t communists!).

FND: There are plenty of people in this country that would do the work if paid a living wage. The problem with guest worker programs is that the guests never go home. We have lots of people who don’t work who would work if they could make a living wage. Eliminate guest workers and illegal workers and the corps will have to pay a living wage.

Harry: The column should turn into business bashing because the immigration issue is entirely the fault of mostly Republican medium and small business that hires the undocumented to bid down wages. If we had laws in force to seize and close any business that was found to employ even a single undocumented worker we would see radical changes. Such laws will never be passed or enforced. The 1% will continue to stomp the American middle class.

Kent: The business community needs low cost labor to maximize profits. And the business community channels those profits into campaign contributions. And the American people support its business community. The immigration issue is purely a reflection of our values. There is nothing to be done.

Undefended: Greedy rich people want to push down wages, they hate native born Americans and have no problem screwing us, and they own at least as many Democrats as Republicans. The only “fix” to immigration they can conceive of is one where the cheap labor keeps coming.

A Culture Tormented by Nihilism?

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Excerpt: Deconstruct every rule, tear down every road sign, and you will end up lost with nowhere to go. This was David Foster Wallace’s caution for a television-saturated world where postmodernism led us to laugh off the simple ideas that bring meaning. Years later, another man has updated the same caution for a digital age: Dr. Jordan Peterson, whose book Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life sets out to build a GPS for meaning in the modern world.

Peterson’s problem with ideologies is intriguing, arguing that they allow their adherents to skirt responsibility by giving them a system to scapegoat their failures onto. Connecting the political and the personal is a strong point for Peterson; it was what brought him to the public spotlight in the first place, with his stand against politically mandated speech, which demonstrated moral fortitude. But aside from a few glimmers, the first half of the book drowns in gloom…

The only stain on the second half is Rule 10, his bizarrely morbid chapter on marriage. It reads as a depressive outcry at the collapse of the institution, not a consideration about the individual benefits of marriage itself. He presents marriage as a necessary misery: you do it or fall into uncontrollable, endless, despair. His sneering take on unmarried life only makes this chapter easier to dismiss.

Here are a few of the comments:

Fromco: Peterson said chaos was feminine, and order masculine, and his work was previously pretty staunchly about seeking order and defending it. Even if we accept that formulation (I think it’s psychobabble), now he says chaos is to be embraced in balance with order, and we should go on adventures. Okay? Anything to explore there about how rigid dichotomies of male vs female, individualism vs responsibility, and so on are maybe not actually productive ways of viewing human life and experience? Is taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family really the first and only thing, or does the reality that the world and circumstances interfere, that society is real, that interdependence is real, need to be included in any realistic assessment of what it is to live a good life?

Mayfly: I can’t think of anything more nihilistic and depressing than the idea that nothing we do matters in the face of brute social structures. It may be whistling past the graveyard, but encouraging individuals to take personal actions to improve their situation gives at least the semblance of empowerment and control. That has to be much more sustaining and comforting than constant fighting against the machine. Though admittedly, I don’t think it sustains as much outside a faith framework.

Eusebius: What to do when you relies that you are only a man, only a woman, only a human? That coming of age when all your childish ambitions, naivety, idealism, euphoria, sparkle in your eye and bright shiny vision of the city on the hill is snuffed out. Turning to ash, the city on the hill is consumed by flame? That bright light, an all consuming fire that neither warms, nor brings comforts. Only burns you hopes and dreams. A lucky few never experience the destruction of age and live eternally naive. Child like. For most people, at some point in there life, they will come face to face with overwhelming. With not having the answer, with lacking the strength, with there insignificance.

Some negotiate, tell themselves pretty little lies or find placebos. Others refuse to look, turn away and lie to themselves that it’s a one off. Still a certain number wallow in depths of depression, become catatonic, unable to resolve dissonance or accept life as merely being human. Some rationalize or even become angry in there rationality. Many believe the sacrifices of the past to be in vain or more valuable or less. Very few truthfully look themselves in the mirror. Very few judge impartially themselves and the world.

East: Jordan P reminds me of Don Quixote.
Peterson clings to the values and truths of an era that has long passed.

Freespeak: I would say Cultural Marxism is more an umbrella term and slur to rally a certain power base. The conflict Is a more a classic elite conflict between rural power elites that is tied to argibusiness and resource extraction vs an urbanist elites that is based in digital and financial industries. The academics, celebrities, and religious leaders are just a cover for their actions, justification for attacks against each other’s supports and rallying points for their own…

This is by the way the conflict that has governed us since day one. Hamilton versus Jefferson etc etc. The phantom of Cultural Marxism is the rural elites best method of rally, while urban have the dominionist. Is either a real power no because that would break the game.

My Junior High Autobiographical Story– The Conclusion

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Kindred Spirits Chapter Twenty-Eight– “The Party”

“But really, Marilla, one can’t stay sad very long in such an interesting world, can one?”
― Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

My mom took me to the 8th Grade Graduation party on that Saturday evening. We brought several bags of chips as our contribution to the festivities. She dropped off me and the food and left.

The “Clubhouse” was a large (at least for the size of my hometown) meeting room. It had a kitchen in one corner and a small stage with a piano in the other. But, mainly it was just one big room with a wooden floor and panel walls.

I remember that Jenny’s mom was one of the parents coordinating the event. She was a nice woman.

My classmates are filtering in. Heather’s being super friendly to me. I wonder if she feels bad about the stunt she’d pulled a couple days ago. It is hard to tell.

The parents hosting the event have made up booklets for us. All I really remember about them was they had each of us “voted” as something… You know, “most likely to succeed” or “best dressed”… Stuff like that.

I was allegedly voted “Most Responsible.” LOL

I don’t remember any of the others… But what I do remember is thinking that their “predictions” weren’t all that accurate…

We played a few games together, which were kind of fun. It was strange being with my entire class, or nearly so, as there were a few kids who didn’t make the party. I had never thought about it before, but we had never really gathered as a group to do anything outside the school.

And then they fed us… Mostly junk food, as I recall. Heather sat next to me… Did I mention she was being “super friend” that evening?

Magon was talking about her freshman boyfriend from youth group at her church…

Amanda was quietly taking it all in… Back to her normal self after coming up big for me in Chicago…

Tyler and his group of boys– both Jasons, Bryan, Danny and others– were being… well, boys… They were having fun…

Billy with his constant companion Melanie, along with Jackson and Amber, was being a bigshot leader sort… I guess someone needed to be the leader… And Billy was as good as anyone…

I noticed Laura and Abby hanging out along the fringes of the Billy, Melanie, Amber, Jackson inner core.

Laura, you should have been my friend… Abby too…

And then it was time for the hayrack ride. Billy’s dad had hitched a wagon to his truck and put bales of hay both on the wagon and in the bed of the truck.

It was actually a really great idea– a hayrack ride around town!

We loaded on the hayrack and had to squeeze together. Some of the boys had to sit on the floor of the wagon. I managed to position myself so I was sitting between my friends, nearly back to back with Tyler.

Enjoy this evening with me, Tyler… It’s such a beautiful clear night… And we’re all friends right now in this moment…

I saw Jackson climb up in the bed of the truck and stretch his long arms and legs out over a couple of bales. He was all alone. And smiling.

That display made me chuckle inwardly.

We rode around town. The early June night air was still crisp and cool. But I felt an inner warmth, huddled at the back of the hayrack.

Billy started leading us in calling out every time we passed someone’s home.

My mom says she remembers hearing something outside that night and wondering what it was…

It was me, Mom… Spending what would be my last hours with my childhood classmates… Though I had no idea at the time…

It was a lovely hayrack ride. Everyone had fun.

But then we returned to the Clubhouse… The our host parents ruined everything…

It was announced that they were going to play music for us… And we were going to have a dance to top the night off…

Talk about draining the light-heartedness right out of the room.

Sensing that he was losing the crowd, Billy decides to give a speech. We should all just have fun and dance, knowing that none of it really meant anything… That we were all just classmates and friends… And, well, it all didn’t mean anything serious…

I hope you’re listening to what he’s saying, Melanie, I thought of Billy’s “girlfriend.”

But in Billy’s defense, what he was saying wasn’t all that wrong… The problem was, if it “all didn’t mean anything” then why put yourself through the awkwardness of it all?

And maybe there’s some of us who want it to mean something, I thought wearily to myself.

So, I joined Magon and Amanda and Jenny sitting on the edge of the stage. We watched on as those who were “brave” enough paired up to dance.

Heather and Brett.

Billy and Melanie.

A couple of other pairs.

And then… What? There’s Laura with Jackson… Oh, Laura, that boy will spiritually suck you dry… He’s a leech that will take everything you got right out of you, if you let him…

But never fear, Amber was waiting in the shadows, primping her hair, for the song to end.

And then it was Amber’s turn. And Laura joined we girls sitting on the edge of the stage.

Amber used Laura like Heather used me to hook her up to “go together” in the 6th grade…

It was a depressing thought, likening Heather to Amber in their motives and tactics… And feeling used.

Really depressing…

But speaking of “going together” I glanced back at Jason T. He was sitting behind us on the stage with Jason L. and Tyler and Bryan and a few other boys.

My first successful hook-up for Heather… He looks uncomfortable… Like myself, a little wistful as we watch the “brave” people awkwardly dance… But he seems to be kind of like me… Wondering if it is really worth the risk of trying it… And deciding it’s not…

I shift my gaze to Tyler. He’s harder to read than Jason T. But I notice he looks more serious than usual. And he’s leaning forward with his hands on his knees.

I look away. It’s kind of one of those moments like in 7th Grade Health Class… Where in the world to look?

I’m glad you came here, Tyler… To us… You’ve added something to this class… I remember the first time I saw you, playing baseball… “That’s the new kid,” Heather told me… Somehow the girl always seemed to be in the know.

You came at the same time that the cool, young new coach/teacher had arrived on the scene… But you weren’t forgotten… At least, not by me… I saw how excitable you were about baseball… There was an exuberance about you…

I heard– from Heather, it probably was– that you hadn’t yet even moved to town, but your grandparents, I think it was, were driving you to town for practices and to catch the bus to go to games… It meant so much for you to play baseball… To be part of the team...

And three girls in the stands at those games, from the very beginning, cheered you on like you were one of the other boys whom we had known forever…

I shoot another glance toward the boys in folding chairs behind us on the stage. The natives are growing restless. Jason L. is flanked on either side by Tyler and Jason T. He is smiling as they joke together.

I like to see you smile, Jason L. I like the way most of us in this class interact with you… Treat you like one of the gang… Not condescending… Just like a pal… You’re one of us… Don’t ever let anyone tell you any different…

The boys were starting to squirm around and make noise. One of them, I think it was Bryan or Danny, maybe both, had fallen out of his chair.

They’re not going to last much longer… Food’s gone… And it’s hard to sit still very long, especially if you don’t have to…

Jenny jumps down off the stage. She looks pretty upset. Then heads toward the entrance… Maybe the bathrooms? I didn’t know.

I had a moment of compassion for her… Maybe her mom would go talk to her…

Whatever the case, I was growing restless, too. So were the dancers, apparently. I think they lasted maybe three songs.

I think it’s time for me to slip on out…

I was walking home.

Kindred Spirits Chapter Twenty-Nine– “Memories”

“Anne always remembered the silvery, peaceful beauty and fragrant calm of that night. It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it.”

— from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My parents never knew I walked home from the party at the Clubhouse that night.  Don’t ever tell my mom– she’d naturally be unhappy to think her fourteen-year-old daughter walked down the highway halfway through town all alone at nearly eleven at night…

But it was such a beautiful night… And I didn’t want to wait for a ride from one of my friend’s moms… And, frankly, I was starting to exert my independence… I wasn’t afraid to walk alone at night… Perhaps it was naïve… But it was a small town in 1993…

On my trek, I came to Laura’s old house across the street from the school.  The house I’d bravely walked to from my home even before I started kindergarten… I wished once again that she hadn’t moved to the country.

I stopped and looked across the street at the old brick building and the schoolyard.

My thoughts turned to my Kindergarten Track Meet.

It’s a cherished tradition in my hometown, just like 8th Grade Graduation Ceremonies.  Parents and family show up to watch a bunch of little kids compete in four events.  And then we went to the Clubhouse for a picnic lunch, I remembered.

Four events– the long jump, the seed sack hop, the foot race, and throwing the big red ball.   And ribbons for four places– blue was first place, red was second place, purple was third place, and pink was fourth place.

I remembered being excited about the big Track Meet at the end of my first year of school.

First, I competed in the long jump.  Second place– Jackson beat me.

Second, I competed in my strongest event, the seed sack hop.  First place– blue ribbon to be pinned on my chest next to my red ribbon.

And it was then that inspiration hit my creative, crazy little heart…  I wanted to get one of each colors of ribbons.  I thought one of each would look really neat pinned across my shirt.

So, I threw the big red ball really bad on purpose… Not that I was great at throwing a big red ball, mind you.  But I was working out a master plan… LOL

Perfect, fourth place– pink ribbon.

And now the foot race… I needed third place.  I was a pretty good runner.  I lined up with three others.  We were to run to the fence and back.

I made it to the fence first– but then I deliberately slowed down.  And on the way back to the finish line, I let two others pass me.

When my mom asked me about it later, having noticed I slowed down, I told her that I felt sorry for a girl who was my friend who was lagging way behind.  That was true– but it wasn’t the whole story.

I was trying to get a third place purple ribbon to complete what I deemed a perfect ensemble of ribbons.

And I did it!

I remember looking down at my ribbons pinned to my shirt with great satisfaction.

Then Jackson struts over… Chest out, shoulders back, chin high… Sporting his four blue first place ribbons.

“You only have one blue ribbon,” he informs me.

“I know.  I tried to.  I wanted one of each.  Look–” I pointed and I counted– “1-2-3-4!”

He looks at me like I’m crazy.  “No you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did!”

And that was the God’s honest truth.

Standing there on that beautiful starry night eight years later, I think rather humorously, The boy shoulda realized I was a conniving whack job even back then…  But really, what’s wrong with a little variety?  All blue ribbons was so mundane…

I walk on to the cross walk… It’s still the cross walk for kids to this day… The old brick grade school is gone now, though…

I have a brick from it… A memento…

Then I walk down the familiar block… The tree that I’d thought was hit by lightening on my first day of school was still there in 1993.

Then I turn and cross the street and walk past three houses to my home.

It’s been a nice night overall… But I’m ready for some downtime from all the school drama, I think…

And we’re going to see the Grand Canyon this summer!  I can’t wait for that…

Kindred Spirits Chapter Thirty– “Trauma”

“It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”
― Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

On the day before Father’s Day, I woke up to the news that my dad had died of a pulmonary embolism in the night.  And my life was changed forever.

Less than two months after shopping for an 8th Grade graduation dress, I was shopping for something appropriate to wear to my dad’s funeral.  No one in my family had the right clothes for such a thing because none of us expected the 43-year-old man would be taken from us so soon.

We found a dark slate green jump-dress with a lacy cream colored blouse for me to wear to the funeral.  It looked something like a uniform for a girl’s boarding school in 1950.  I think I still have that dress, too.  It strongly contrasted my graduation dress.  As it should have.

There was a visitation at the funeral home the evening before the funeral.  I had arrived early with my family and saw my dad’s body in the coffin for the first time.

Then I ended up standing with my mom just past the place where people signed the guestbook.

Heather’s mom brought Heather, Amanda, Kim, and Magon. Jenny was the only one missing.  She was already gone spending the summer with her dad, as she always did.  Otherwise she would have been there.  Her mom would have made her come.

My friends, with Heather’s mom, were among the first to arrive.  I left my mom for the only time that evening to go over and speak to them.

They were all dressed very nicely.  They seemed a little nervous, as could be expected.  They all looked very solemn.

“Thanks for coming,” I said quietly, hoping to convey my gratitude.

Heather gave me a card.  Then she hugged me.

We Kindred Spirits weren’t the hugging type.  We were the “stupidity swat” type.

The other three followed suit, giving me warm hugs.

“We’re so sorry,” I remember Magon especially saying, “So sorry.”

Magon was probably the most emotional.  Amanda the most sympathetic.  Kim the most unusually serious for her personality.

And Heather was ever the leader.

“If there’s anything we can do,” Heather told me.  Her mom had probably coached her about what to say, but she was absolutely sincere.

I bite my lip to keep from crying.  I couldn’t break down this early in the evening.

They didn’t stay long, of course.  But I will never forget that they came.

That evening was incredibly long.  The people were lined up out the door of the funeral home.  It was only supposed to be two hours long, but the people just kept coming… Family, friends, church people, people my dad worked with and associated with through his work…  Some total strangers to me…

It was well beyond the three hour mark when only immediate family was left at the funeral home.

The next morning, before the funeral, while everyone– my mom and siblings, my mom’s twin sister and family who had stayed over, and my gran were preparing to go to the funeral– I sat down at my piano, where I had posed for my 8th Grade Graduation picture less than a month before, and I started playing some old hymns.  My gran quietly came in and sat down to listen.

Everyone in the house heard me playing that morning… I barely played the piano after that day…

At the funeral, I sat between my mom and my other Grandma.  My dad’s mom.  She held my hand… The funeral was beautiful… and excruciating… There aren’t words…

But in keeping with the childhood classmate theme of this series…

It was either at day or two after the funeral… Toward evening… A car pulls up in front of my house and Bryan (yes, the Bryan that I smacked over the head with my textbook) steps out of the back seat and comes to my door.

“Rachel, there’s someone here to see you.”

I step out on the porch.  I’m absolutely exhausted.  “Hi.”

Bryan looks very solemn, as solemn as I’d ever seen him.  “I’m sorry to hear about your dad.”

He hands me a card.

“Thanks, Bryan.  It was good of you to stop by.”

In the next week or so, I get at least one card in the mail, signed by several classmates.  I honestly can’t remember who all signed the one or two cards I received.

I also received a package in the mail from Heather.  She had typed up my epic 6th Grade book Life Will Continue, I Think

I read through that crazy story I had written… Thinking of how it was from a different life… I kept the manuscript, though… If just to cherish that Heather had typed it up for me…

I kept on going over to my aunt and uncle’s house to watch my nine and ten year old cousins for the summer.  It gave me something to do… To get out of the house…

It was in July, just a few weeks after dad’s death, that I started working on my mom to let me homeschool.  What I really wanted to do was move… But I would settle for homeschooling…

My mom had decided to start working at the school as a teacher’s aid… It would give her something to do… To get out of the house…

But there was my little brother, who was just starting Kindergarten… Half day Kindergarten, in the afternoon.  He would need someone to babysit him in the morning…

So, we got hooked up with a Christian correspondence high school… And I was going to homeschool, despite the concerns of many family members and friends…

“What will become of her?  How will she get into college?  What about socializing?”

As for the first concern, who could know what would become of me whether I went to regular high school or not?  As for the second concern, I would get into college just fine, thank you.  As for the third concern, I was going to be very involved with the church youth group, so I would have friends, just different ones from my school classmates.

I visited Magon’s youth group a couple of times that summer… But it was just strange somehow, being around my friend from a different life– a life before Dad died…

And then one afternoon in early August, I was watching my cousins at their house.  Their friend– Jackson’s youngest brother was over for a visit.  My cousins liked to have their friends over a lot.

There’s a knock on the door, and my nine-year-old cousin and I go to answer it.

And there’s Jackson.  He looks surprised.

“Is my brother here?”

I barely stand there long enough for him to get the words out.  I’m bolting back to the kitchen.

I nearly run into my ten-year-old cousin and his brother as I flee to the back room.

I stand there alone in the kitchen– my back pressed to the wall.  About to cry.

I can’t do this… I can’t do this… Get rid of him, boys…

I can hear them standing there at the front door, talking about something.  I know my cousins kind of admire their friend’s big brother, but–

I want him gone… I can’t do this… Thank God I’m home-schooling… I CAN’T do this…

And I couldn’t.

You see, when you’re having to help your grieving thirty-six-year-old widowed mother drag– I took one arm and she took the other– your confused, stubborn, lost five-year-old brother to Kindergarten every day, you just don’t have it in you to face down a jerk that’s brutally singled you out to be his nemesis…

In fact, you don’t even have it in you to deal with petty fights, silent treatment manipulations, mis-understandings, and rivalries within your own little clique of Kindred Spirits, either.

You just don’t.

Because you are a different person, living a different life.

And that’s just the way of it.

My Junior High Autobiographical Story– Part VII

Standard

Kindred Spirits Chapter Twenty-Four– “Headed to High School”

Anne: “But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice.”

Marilla: “I don’t know as that’s much benefit when you’re always making new ones.”

— from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The morning of the last day 8th Grade was mainly a time to goof off and watch movies in Mr. Porter’s class. I remember watching Field of Dreams. I’ve never understood the allure of that movie.

It was also the day we each individually met with the High School counsellor and developed our Freshman class schedule. That didn’t turn out to be as exciting as I’d hoped it would be. Most of the classes I would be taking were uninspiring to me.

And then at noon the “Top Honor Roll” folks got to walk down on Main Street and have a pizza party at the town’s small pizza joint. I found myself seated at a table with Jenny to my right, Amber directly across from me, Laura to Amber’s left, and Misty at the far end of the table.

“Jackson’s at football practice,” Amber states, as if we were all wondering.

Great, that’s starting already, I think grouchily, Four years of this is going to be a killer.

“He might be the starting varsity quarterback this year,” she adds.

You’re a smart girl, Amber… Have you ever stopped and thought it might not be that Jackson’s so dang good, but that the High School Football Team is so dang bad? How many years has it been since they’ve had a winning season? Twenty?

After awhile, the king himself decides to saunter in. And suddenly the very helpful, if not pushy, waitress is pulling up a chair for Mr. Royalty himself– at the end of the narrow table…

Right between Amber and me.

I catch his hesitation– but the waitress is practically pushing him into the chair and placing a plate in front of him.

Jackson recovers and sits down, leaning back in the chair, as if to say, I’m cool!

Oh, no, you don’t! I know you too well to go for that act!

Remember when our slightly loopy 5th Grade teacher came back from a convention where she was learning all kinds of crazy new teaching techniques? And she decided to chose you and me to come up in front of the class so she could tie our wrists together? I don’t recall just what the woman thought she was trying to prove or teach us, but what I do recall is you acted like it was awful...

Girls make you nervous…

I remember in the 6th Grade when that wild-eyed 8th Grader was chasing you around the hall between classes and you kept diving into the boy’s bathroom. It was your only refuge…

Girls make you nervous…

And I know something else that makes you nervous– the football expectations this entire school is putting on you…

I remember when we were in 6th Grade at the High School Football Homecoming game… While all your classmates were wondering around doing normal eleven and twelve year old kid stuff, you were sitting in the grass all by yourself, staring at the game like you were trying to memorize it…

You don’t know if you can live up to all the hype of being Mr. Football in this town, now do you?

Such were my stormy thoughts at this moment in time, on our last day of grade school. I decided I wasn’t about to let this faker, who had cheated me out of my D.A.R. award just three days ago, sit there and posture. Not without a fight.

Girls and football make him nervous… Girls and football make him nervous…

A devious… genius plan comes to me on the fly…

And I suddenly launch full-on into “football groupie” mode…

“Jackson, you must be hungry after all that football practice,” I say ever so sweetly. I reach for the pizza dipper. “Here, let me dip you up some pepperoni. You do like pepperoni, don’t you?”

I smile at him, waiting for his response.

“Uh… yeah…”

I dip him a slice of pepperoni, smiling at him all the while. Then I say, “What about supreme? I mean, you must be starving after all that football you’ve been playing.”

I don’t wait for the befuddled boy’s response. Instead, I call down to the foot of the table, “Misty, will you please pass the supreme pizza on down here for Jackson? He’s starved after all the football practicing he’s been doing. He needs his nourishment.”

The pizza is passed to Jenny then on to me. I don’t even take time to notice how hard Jenny shoves the pan at me. I’m on a roll now.

I expertly dip a piece of supreme pizza on top of the pepperoni on his plate. I’m really piling on now. “There you go,” I say sweetly, smiling at him again.

He’s now looking at me like I might have a bomb strapped to my waist. And figuratively, I might. This is nothing short of a kamikazes attack. I might as well have been sending out another valentine that said, “I think you’re– GUESS?”

But I was committed now… And going for it…

The pushy waitress was coming up from behind his left shoulder with a very full, tall glass of soda.

Amber was glaring daggers at me between glancing at Jackson as if to see if he was okay.

Jackson was twitching in his chair.

What could possibly go wrong?

The waitress places the very full, tall glass of soda on the table in front of Jackson. It’s too close to him.

“Oh good, I’m sure you’re really thirsty,” I say in a sing-songy voice, “Drink up, Jackson. You need to stay hydrated.”

I meet his eyes. It’s a dare.

Game on, Jackson. DON’T BLOW IT.

Oh, dear! Watch it– your arm is snaking out much too hard and fast for as close the glass is…

The boy’s hand slaps the side of the glass, and soda spills everywhere.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, what just happened?

Amber, and I immediately have to jump up and back out of the way.  Jackson also rises, chasing the cup across the table and nearly running into me.  He jumps back, realizing our proximity, as if he still suspicions I have a bomb.

Jenny and Laura have to stand and step back as well, to escape the cola disaster. Only Misty remains sitting. She seems to appear in a world her own, as usual.

I’m biting my lip to hide a smile. Amber is fit to be tied. She’s glaring at me with a mixture of superiority and reprimand.

Hey, he’s the one who spilled his soda everywhere!

She continues to glare as if to say, You are so juvenile and uncouth.

Yeah, this is The Breakfast Club and you get to be Molly Ringwald and I’m the whack job kleptomaniac dark-haired chick… What was her name?

Since there is a huge mess to clean up on the table and the floor and we girls were all but done eating, we decide to leave. Amber thanks the waitress in her most sophisticated voice then sends me one last look of haughty reproof before walking out with Laura.

Hey, HE’S the one who spilled his soda everywhere!

Jenny and I walk out, lagging behind Amber and Laura. Misty stays. She’s not finished eating, and she’s the only one unscathed at her end of the table.

I honestly am so enjoying this moment that I have no idea that Jenny is upset, until–

“YOU WERE FLIRTING WITH HIM!” she seethes through gritted teeth.

What? Oh, Jenny, that wasn’t flirting–

“No, I wasn’t. I was just teasing him.”

She’s literally stomping her feet as we walk down the sidewalk along Main Street. “YOU WERE TOO FLIRTING!” she insists in a heated whisper.

No, you don’t understand… We’ve been doing this since 4th Grade… Before that, in fact… I think it started about the Kindergarten Track Meet…

Jenny glares at me. She’s putting at least two feet of space between us as we walk. “You can’t do that! You’re supposed to like Tyler–”

“I do like Tyler,” I interrupt in a hasty whisper, “This doesn’t have anything to do with him.”

Or you, I add silently.

“You know I like him!”

Yes, and I’ve done everything I can to try to help that along… Can’t you give me a little credit for once?… And don’t you see the beauty in what just happened? For a brief moment in time, Jackson became human! JUST LIKE ALL THE REST OF US!

Jenny sets her jaw. “I’m telling Heather!”

Oh, please…

“Fine, do what you have to. But I was not flirting.”

Kindred Spirits Chapter Twenty-Five– “Complications of Growing Up”

“Mrs. Spencer said it was wicked of me to talk like that, but I didn’t mean to be wicked. It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it?”
― Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

For my final year of Junior High, I was somehow assigned a locker way down a side hallway. So, I found myself alone that last day of school, cleaning my stuff out of the locker.

I didn’t realize I had so much junk in here… I should probably just throw some of this stuff away… There’s a bunch of notes and things… No, I’ll take them home and go through them...

The plan for after school was to walk over to Heather’s and decompress about the end of our Junior High experience. But I was finding myself not looking forward to lugging all my stuff over to Heather’s only to have to lug it back to my house on the other side of town.

But Heather invited me, so…

Amanda and Magon stop by to say, “Goodbye” before catching their buses home.

“See you Thursday,” I tell them. We are all excited about the big trip to Chicago. We’re going on a greyhound bus, and we will see the Hancock Building and the White Sox’s new stadium. And we are going to eat lunch at the Hard Rock Café.

Slightly after Amanda and Magon go their own way, Kim comes by to see me before catching her own bus.

She grins. “I heard you were flirting at lunch today,” she says cheerfully.

“I was teasing him,” I reply a bit warily. But the dark-haired girl’s smile is infectious. “And he spilled his soda all over the place,” I add.

Kim’s grin widens. “I think that’s great!”

We share a laugh. And I’m thinking, Thank God for the new kids. It’s like they don’t know about the “social order” of things around here… And neither do Kim and Tyler seem to really care.

“See you later– I don’t want to miss my bus.”

“Bye, Kim.”

I finish packing up my stuff in my book bag and another sack. I glance around the empty hall, feeling a little nostalgic about leaving this old building. My entire school experience had been in this building. Starting in the basement with kindergarten. And working my way up through the grades. Junior High was on the top floor. It was hot at the beginning of the year and end of the year. No air conditioning. They did put ceiling fans in after my sixth grade year. That helped a little.

I pack my things down the winding back steps. The three flights of stairs had been good exercise through the years. Some of the boys liked to take them two at a time. I was a one at a time kind of girl, both going up and down. But sometimes when I wanted to get my heart rate up or was in a hurry, I’d go up two at a time.

I emerge from the building and find myself at the place where I’d met Heather for our “fight” a couple of years before.

That was so silly, I think to myself.

I lay my things down and sit in a swing to wait for Heather and Jenny to emerge. I haven’t seen them since Jenny threatened to tell Heather about my great misdeed at lunch.

Surely Heather will put it into a proper perspective… For heaven’s sake, just about anything could be called “flirting,” if we really want to go down that muddied path… Smiles could be “flirting.” Basic conversation could be “flirting.” Teasing could be “flirting.” It would never end…

Eventually, the two girls emerge. The look on Heather’s face makes me stiffen.

Oh great, she’s mad…

“You were flirting with Jackson.”

“I was not flirting,” I respond calmly yet firmly, staying seated in the swing, “I was teasing him– you know, giving him a rough time.”

Heather’s shoulders are raised and her back straight. She’s a woman on a mission. A woman of principle.

A severely misguided woman, in my opinion.

“Amber says you were flirting,” Heather states tersely.

Amber? Really? Miss Lollipop is a credible witness against me in your court of law? Since when?

“That’s stupid,” I scoff, “Amber knows that making a boy spill his drink is no way to flirt with him.”

I look at them as if to say, Do you know that?

Apparently not, because Heather insists, “You can’t flirt with the boy your friend likes.”

Looking back on the scene, I think of the first two rules of Fight Club:

First rule: You do not talk about Fight Club.

Second rule: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club.

Well, Heather was doing her best Brad Pitt alter ego routine for the first two rules of the Kindred Spirits:

First rule: You do not talk to a boy your friend likes.

Second rule: You DO NOT talk to a boy your friend likes.

It was totally impractical and utterly unenforceable.

Do they really not trust me that much? comes the sad question to my mind.

And then I have to wonder, Is this what I have to look forward to from them in High School?

I stand from the swing now. “I wasn’t flirting, Heather. Amber’s lying.”

She stares hard at me. “I don’t understand you anymore.”

The feeling’s kind of mutual… It’s sad, isn’t it?

Heather takes Jenny by the arm, as if she’s leading a smaller child, and they walk past me. “We’re going to my home,” she says over her shoulder.

And I’ve been uninvited…

“Okay, I have a lot of stuff to carry home anyway,” I call after them. I’m actually kind of relieved… but depressed too. This didn’t have to be the way our Junior High experience ended.

“See you Thursday,” I call after them. Surely they will be over it by the field trip.

I gather my things and walk on home. My siblings, along with my two younger cousins and two other daycare kids, are playing in the yard on a slip-n-slide. They seem it being having fun on the very warm afternoon.

My mom is surprised to see me. “I thought you were going over to Heather’s for awhile.”

“I decided just to come on home with my stuff.”

I make my way up the stairs to my room and unpack my things. It had been a strange day. I hoped it wasn’t a foreshadowing of High School. That would be totally depressing.

I look at my class schedule for my first year of High School and sigh.

Then I go back down the stairs and tell my mom, “I think I’ll go play with the kids on the slip-n-slide.”

Kindred Spirits Chapter Twenty-Six– “The Shunning”

“Iam well in body although considerably rumpled up in spirit, thank you, ma’am,’ said Anne gravely. Then aside to Marilla in an audible whisper, ‘There wasn’t anything startling in that, was there, Marilla?”
― Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Even at fourteen, I was barely coherent at five a.m. in the morning. So, when my dad dropped me off in the dark at the school, my mind was still fuzzy from sleep.

Other classmates are getting on the bus, and I follow them up the steps. I’ve never ridden on a charter bus before, nor have I ever been in downtown Chicago, for that matter.

We Kindred Spirits had a loose plan to sit together, of course. So, once on the bus, I searched out their familiar faces. There were more kids already on the bus than I had expected. Finally, two-thirds of the way back, I spot them. The four of them are in a row.

My eyes meet Heather’s, and she just shrugs a little.

Great… I guess we should have planned for rows of four… So, I’m going to have to find a seat elsewhere… That’s a bummer…

I turn and make my way back toward the front and finally find a couple empty seats next to Laura and Abby.

“Can I sit here?”

Laura smiles a little. “Sure.”

So, I’m in Lollipop land for the four hour trip up to Chicago. It could have been worse. I just wished I had something to talk to my old pre-school friend about. But I didn’t. The only thing we had in common through the past several years were some scholastic events and Honor Roll parties.

The trip up to Chicago is really mundane. I wished I had made a better plan to sit together with my friends.

But, honestly, I didn’t think anymore about it than that.

Until we finally arrived at the Hancock Building. I see that my group is exiting at the side door midway back, but the front door is closer for me. So, I exit through that one. Once outside, I expect to be able to catch up with my friends, but they are nowhere to be seen.

What’s going on? I wonder, finally getting suspicious. I walk with other classmates up to the entrance of the tall building. It feels weird and overwhelming to be in such a big city… And where were my friends?

Inside, I breath a sigh of relief when I see Amanda. She had hung back and was waiting for me.

“Amanda, thanks for waiting,” I say gratefully. “What’s going on?”

She gives me a sympathetic look. “Heather and Jenny are still mad at you,” she says in that quiet voice of hers. “I didn’t know what they were doing with the seats until it was too late.”

So it was on purpose that there wasn’t a seat for me…

“I’ll walk around with you,” Amanda assures me.

I give her a look of pure gratitude. “Thank you, Amanda. Thank you so much.”

Amanda, my old friend. If she hadn’t lived so far out in the country and had three younger sisters and a full-time working mother, we would have been able to spend a lot more time together. And unfortunately she was placed in the other section of our class in Junior High… But at least we were able to be “underachiever” study hall buddies…

She nods. “I guess Jenny’s been spending a lot of time at Heather’s house this week,” she explains to me.

Heather’s taking care of Jenny’s poor distraught soul, I think sarcastically, And I’m being shunned… And really, I suspicion a lot of this is about Heather’s asserting herself as the supreme leader in our little clique…

We continue to walk along together through the big building.

“I’m going to eat lunch with you,” Amanda tells me.

I had forgotten all about lunch. “Great– thanks!”

“And Magon says she will sit with us,” Amanda adds, “And Kim too.”

I shoot her a look of surprise– and admiration. Amanda stepping up as a leader… And doing it for me…

“You’re a good friend Amanda,” I say softly.

You should be the leader of we Kindred Spirits… We need a new one…

So, the view from the top of the Hancock Building was amazing. I had never seen Lake Michigan before. I didn’t like heights, however, so I was more than ready to go back down when the time came.

Next stop was the Hard Rock Café.

They had a section of tables roped off for our group. Magon, Kim, Amanda, and I sat at a high top table. Heather, Brett, Jenny, and a classmate named Alex sat at a regular table nearby. Heather refused to even look over at me.

You all don’t look like you’re having the greatest of times, I think to myself, glancing over at them.

And I was actually enjoying myself. It was a pretty neat place. And Magon, Amanda, and Kim were a fun, easy to get along with group.

Of course, there was the high-top table for four over across the way where Billy, Melanie, Jackson, and Amber sat. Jackson was facing my way, and I swear, every time he reached for his glass of soda, he shot me a meaningful look of triumph.

Yeah, yeah, all you’re proving is that it takes the close presence of a special kind of whack job to make you spill your soda…

Then I think more seriously, Jenny should be angry with Amber, not me. This whole thing is so stupid.

After awhile, followed by a couple of the boys, Tyler struts on by, acting like he owns the place. Silly boy doesn’t even glance at me.

I watch the boys wander over to the empty stage and hang out around there awhile.

Hey, Tyler, why don’t you get up on that stage and do your best Elvis impersonation? I have a song request– do “A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.” But I have one caveat, change the word “shakin’” to “fakin’”… It will be perfect for this scene…

I smile to myself, thinking, We’re all faking it quite a bit these days, especially sitting here at the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago, just a bunch of fourteen-year-old kids from the sticks…

Despite my snarky thoughts, I find myself laughing with the girls. I’m genuinely glad I’m not sitting with Jenny and Brett– and even Heather is on my nerves. This silent treatment manipulation stuff gets old fast.

Magon and I finish eating first, so we make our way over toward the gift shop area to pay for our food. It feels really grown up to be carrying around our purses and paying for our own food, especially at a place like The Hard Rock Café.

Tyler’s browsing around the gift shop with his two cohorts. He’s telling the boys that he’s got both birthday and graduation money to spend, especially from his dad.

So, he’s pretty much the same age as Heather then… I figured he was one of the younger ones in our class… It’s amazing how much a few months in age can matter right now… Jenny’s fourteenth birthday isn’t until August. She’s nearly a year younger than Jackson– the oldest kid in our class who hasn’t been held back. And kids like Billy, Amber, and I have fall birthdays, making us quite a bit older too… That will even out, I guess… But somehow, in these early teen years, it seems to make a lot of difference…

Tyler decides to buy himself a shirt. I watch him pull out a wad of bills from his pocket and pay for it.

I’m happy for you, Tyler– that you got birthday and graduation money, especially from your dad…

And now it was on to the rest of the day…

Kindred Spirits Chapter Twenty-Seven– “Chicago”

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
― Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

We had arrived at the Chicago White Sox’s Comiskey Park.  At the time, I thought it was a brand new ball park, but it was two years old when we toured it.  This was the main event of the trip.

First, we walked through something of a museum part.  It was during this time, that Heather sent Magon as an envoy to me with the message that she and Jenny would begin talking to me at 2 o’clock.

I sent Magon back across the room with the response that I might not want to talk to them at 2 o’clock.  I might prefer 4 o’clock… or some later time even than that…

Yes, this was the maturity level we were stooping to, less than a week after our 8th Grade Graduation.  For me, the immaturity was born out of frustration.

Looking back on the situation, it is almost surreal.  I honestly was totally blind-sighted by the animosity from Heather and Jenny, and to this day, I really don’t understand it.

But that entire trip to Chicago was a strange day.  We had three school officials with us– Mr. Porter, Mrs. McKeown and our Principal.  Mr. Porter was in a sarcastic mood most of the day.  Mrs. McKeown was even more unlikeable than usual.  And the tour guide at Comiskey Park out of nowhere decided to get snarky with our Principal, right in front of all of we students.

I didn’t like Chicago… I still don’t like Chicago… There are cities I do like.  Chicago is not one of them…

The tour of Comiskey Park was pretty boring, especially with the unlikable tour guide, until we actually got down to the field.  It’s weird being at a completely empty stadium.  But seeing the field was interesting.

Now, the tour guide informed us that on no uncertain terms could we go on the grass– or we would all be thrown out.  She really did say that!

We all just looked at each other in bewilderment, teachers included.  I think most of us were thinking something like, What a warm friendly place this is…

Speaking of warm and friendly, I guess it must have been 2 o’clock because Heather comes over to me and declares cheerfully, “Let’s go sit in the dugout.”

I don’t respond to her but go along with her and the rest of the class to check out the dugouts.

The dugouts were actually pretty cool… You know, something you see on television… And sitting where actual MLB players sit… And the dugout phones were neat to see… LOL

The boys were more excited than the girls for the most part, but it was a fun experience for us all as a class.  It was probably the most enjoyable time of the whole trip.

In the dugout, I even managed to catch my graduation walking partner’s eye once and got a brief smile… Right before he decided to head over to the other dugout and check it out…

It’s strange, I think to myself, Being so far from home with my classmates.  We’re all out of our element…

All our other field trips had been much shorter distances on regular buses.  But this one was bigger… And our last one…

And High School was next for us… If this day was any indication, I knew there were some big changes coming for my “Kindred Spirits.”

It wasn’t that I was unwilling to move forward with Heather and Jenny as my friends.  I wasn’t going to “shun” them as they had me… But there was a level of trust that had been broken for me with this whole ordeal.

They had plotted to leave me abandoned, totally out of my element, on an intimidating trip to the city.  And I had no reason to believe they wouldn’t do that again in another situation.

While I knew I wasn’t a perfect friend by any means, I wouldn’t have done that to any of them, Jenny included.  It was the plotting and scheming to leave me hurt and abandoned that got me.  They hadn’t just shunned me, they had schemed to separate me from my other friends too.

If it hadn’t have been for the loyalty to our friendship of Amanda, Magon, and Kim, I would have been scrambling for a friend to experience the day with… to eat with… to talk with… That’s a big, big fear for any fourteen-year-old.

Honestly, isn’t it a normal fear for everyone on some level?  Isn’t it something that makes us human?

Heather and Jenny were still my friends… But the trust level was very much damaged…

If I had to rate the authenticity of my Kindred Spirits, Heather and then Jenny would make up the bottom, I decided to myself, And Amanda and Magon would be at the top with Kim at the middle, since I haven’t known her that long…

Maybe that’s the way it should have always been… But I’m living and learning…

And now just one more event before Summer Vacation…  Surely our 8th Grade Graduation Party would have less drama than the class field trip…

I certainly hoped so.