I just want to say - these blog posts are getting harder to write. The notes I'm coming across have so much backstory, so many raw feelings, it's a little disturbing to put myself back there and then try to pare it down to one post. Still, I want to have 12 solid posts before this blog's birthday in January, to average out to one a month... so hopefully I can get it together in the next little bit.
Well, I think it's time the tables turned. Today, I bring you a note not written to me, but by me! My best friend also has a stash of notes from junior high, and recently, we stayed up too late, drinking whiskey and giggling our way through them, trying to figure out what in the world we were referring to 12 years ago and carefully re-folding our well-creased triangles.
This note is a prime example of one of the best kinds of junior-high notes - the language is fascinating. It's full of what I call "inside language" - like inside jokes but it's not funny - and its use was never designed to be a secret code, but that's how it reads and is a tribute to the relationship Kate* and I had. Our friend (and my ex-boyfriend) Alan**, around the same time, described us (in writing - this is verbatim) as being "somewhere between best friends and constellations of each other; the path of one depends on the other's gravitational pull" and after nearly 14 years of friendship, we're not that twinny but we're just as close. Even though I express concern that she might be "sick of me" and give her option to not hang out at the end of the note, I'm pretty sure she didn't take me up on it. We slept over at each other's houses at least twice a week - often on weekdays - and would follow one another home from school. We had A.P. U.S. history together, which resulted in long nights of studying and worked together at a coffee shop not far from my house. We were together nearly all the time and I called her my sister.
I'm not exactly sure which "situation" that turned into "problem" and then an "annoyance" I was referring to, because the "tragically depressing ingrate", our friend Sam***, caused a lot of these for me in 10th grade. In fact, this note could probably be written nearly any day of that school year. The three of us were on an Odyssey of the Mind team together with some other kids that made up our core group of friends. I'm not sure the word "disaster" can truly convey what that experience was like - coaching 6 nerdy, manipulative, angst-ridden friends that are trying to work together to solve a stupid problem (this was the year Odyssey of the Mind actually became Destination: Imagination in Minnesota and it sucked) sounds like probably the worst thing you could decide to do, but our coach did an admirable job considering the kind of stuff we pulled:
1. One punched (through) door.
2. One plot to put razor blades into shoes and kick the ankles of another teammate at a rave.
3. One half of the team going on strike, leaving the other 3 kids to do nearly everything a few days before competition.
You get the idea - it was tumultuous at best. The only thing we were really good at was Improv. Our angry tension turned into pretty great comedic timing, and was the only point at which we actually came together as a group to create rather than destroy.
Sam and I had a friendship in which we challenged each other to the extreme. There was a lot of lying, violence (he once slammed my head into the ground and gave me a minor concussion during a game of flashlight tag - to be fair, I kind of deserved it) and manipulation. Our friendship was so involved and time-consuming that it resulted, in part, in the breakup between Alan and I. He was jealous of it, sure I was in love with Sam rather than him because I put so much effort into cultivating our ridiculous relationship, particularly one long-term lie/manipulation/deception, which I'll write about another time.
I'm not exactly sure what was wrong with me that day. It was obviously troubling me, and he was obviously concerned, but all of that other stuff came between his expressing it and my receiving it well. While I was able to communicate the infuriation I felt ("the mocking, the MOCKING") to Kate, and which I'm sure I re-hashed for her in person, I wasn't able to ever communicate to Sam without more trouble, more lying, and more violence. He had this way of masterfully getting under my skin even when reaching out, and the idea of being honest and open never occured to us so it was hard to tell when that happened.
Despite this basis for friendship, to this day Sam and I are connected on such a deep emotional level I can't fully describe it. To others, I call him my twin without blinking, like he's the male version of me, an extension of me. Just like family, he's always there, integrally a part of my life. And just like my family, we have communication issues sometimes, but I know they will never touch our fundamental relationship.
Still, it troubles me that I can't describe Sam and I's friendship well, or trace back how and why we're so close, when I am able to discern and pick apart most of my relationships quite analytically, noting significant moments, turning points and motivations for both sides. I think in part it's because everything was so crazy then - adolescence is full of changes and growing, and obviously mine was a little extreme at times. But I also think it's because, like my family, it feels like Sam has always been there - there's no "start" to our friendship, just like I foresee no end, so if I still feel the need to try and track it all back, at the very least, I have time.
* & ** & *** - all names changed to protect these people from hating me too much.