It's hard to remember back to those horrific days of being an awkward, early adolescent. My body was not yet developed to look even the slightest bit attractive. It was more blocky and pudgy than anything else, because at that point in my life, I hated exercise. I felt as though it was the most devilish thing on the planet, now that bedtime had been accepted fully since I was four. Even though I hated exercise, I hated my body more, because I felt overweight and unattractive. I didn't have issues talking to boys as long as I had a jacket hiding my core.
The jacket was my tool to surviving seventh grade. That year girls were either stick skinny with a flat chest or rounded in the middle with little golf balls for breasts. I had to repeatedly tell myself all year that every girl felt self-conscious--even the skinny girls. I remember hating my hair color as well. Makeup looked bland on me, since I didn't know how to use makeup then, and my hair just laid on my head like a mop. Sure, I learned to curl with my straightener, but I didn't have hairspray, so the curls just petered out of existence by the end of the day.
I had the best of friends an awkward seventh grader could have. From fifth grade to eighth, they were my buddies and I did everything with them. Sleepovers, Trick-or-Treating, birthday parties, Christmas carols during the summer, and even chalking in the middle of the night. (The middle of the night is what we call "after sunset" and stretched to 11:00 PM before we got tired.) Chalking was almost like TP-ing someones house, but in this case it was with sidewalk chalk and involved the neighbor's driveway. We didn't dare draw out vulgar words in case we might get caught, so we just drew weird designs and words like "WEEE!" on the driveways.
There were some drawbacks to this bunch of friends. First of all, McKenzie was one I looked up to (Down to, since she was shorter than all of us.) and worshipped in a sense. No, I wasn't in complete awe when I saw her walk into the room, but I sure admired her. She was flexible, did a lot of gymnastics and tumbling, and jumped around without a care in the world. If she got hurt, she'd shrug it off. It was like she didn't even feel any pain, and I was amazed by it. She just had one of those personalities that you really loved or really hated. There was a lot of conflict at times, but there was more love than anything else. It was either her or McKaela who gave me the nickname "Minnie" that year.
Stephanie was more on the quieter side. "Stephie" was her ultimate nickname, and she didn't mind it. She had her own personality when we were away from McKenzie and McKaela. Nothing really embarrassed her and she hardly ever cried. She was strong too. Maybe I'm just a weakling or something, but she could have me pinned down in a heart beat. Steph was the one who walked with me to school every morning when carpooling was out of the question.
McKaela probably understood me the best. It was these years that my parents started looking past the mormon church, and I began thinking deeply on things. McKaela goes to morning Mass and a Tongan church with her grandmother sometimes. She understood. McKaela and I had a lot of fun when it was just us two having a sleepover. We both liked to play with her Bratz dolls, despite our age. Other than my jackets, I think McKaela was the other leverage I had to getting through seventh grade. She wasn't stick skinny like Stephanie and McKenzie. She was more like me (not fat, just a little above average) and it made me feel so much more normal and human. Even today, I still admire her amazing singing voice.
The adventures I've had with these three friends were wild (in our minds) and crazy, but I think Halloween Nights were the most interesting. I spent two out of three Halloween nights with them in McKenzie's basement. Two years in a row we would Trick or Treat around their neighborhood and then end up in McKenzie's basement trading candies and choosing a scary movie to watch. We always played Hide and Seek in the dark.
The basement room down on the "sixth level" didn't have any windows. It was where her family some things they don't have room for upstairs and had a door connecting to the storage room. The lights down there could be dimmed or completely turned off so that no matter what time of day it was, we were shrouded in a veil of blackness. Except for the TV down there and it's electronic devices with small red or green dots, we couldn't see a thing in our path. We would hide somewhere in the throng of items that cluttered the room and then turn off the lights. The seeker would have to crawl around and try to find us behind couches or on top of boxes or under blankets. Once found, their blind hands would poke and prod you until you gave in and said "Yeah, you found me." I was almost always found first, so I tended to be the seeker a lot.
One Halloween night we had our candy out and we were chowing down on the goods while thinking about a movie to watch. We decided it would be fun to play "hide and seek in the dark" before we turned on a scary movie to get our minds into the mood (not that we weren't already there).
It was easy to set up. Set our candy aside, take off any objects of our costumes that would get in the way, and let the seeker go out for twenty seconds while they found their hiding spots. Once the seeker came in, she would have her eyes closed and would turn the lights off herself so she could begin to find the other girls. Sometimes it was nerve wracking to sit out in the open and watch the seeker come in. Often times I felt as though she might be looking right at me, even though her hand was over her eyes. The darkness that loomed in when she turned the lights off comforted me completely. Who would have thought?
There was one moment when I decided to just sit in the middle of the room and see how long it would take the seeker to find me. I ended moving around like a ninja and felt awesome, until the lights came on and saw where McKenzie was hiding. She was on top of the treadmill, crunched into a little ball with her back pressed against the low ceiling. I was absolutely stunned, but not entirely surprised. She was quite the monkey.
I watched Poltergeist for the first time at her house. We were having a sleepover, so when the movie was over, we were all snuggled deep in our blankets with wide eyes.
Sleepovers didn't mean sleeping. It meant staying up super late.
It was probably around one in the morning when we were finished with Poltergeist and we all wanted to play a game, so we decided on Curses which sat in a yellow box underneath the TV. Since Poltergeist had a creepy static-y TV in it, we voted McKenzie ( The brave one) to approach the TV and rip Curses from its grasp. She took several crawling steps forward, and the TV cupboards squealed. It made us all scream like a banshee. It probably took us fifteen minutes to calm our hearts. After that, we just ate candy and avoided touching the Curses game box.
I miss them a lot, but I realize now that the friends I have now are just easier to deal with. There was a lot of seventh and eighth grade drama that involved my little group of friends, and by ninth grade, I took refuge in Kaylynn's friendship.
It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I realized I don't need a best friend, especially one that thinks I've changed and doesn't want to be my friend anymore. I don't need a best friend, but I certainly need friends. If one friend doesn't cut it, I can go to another one. That's how it went with my early adolescent friends, but I still miss them dearly. I say hi to them in the hallways all the time, but I can't help but feel far away and detached.