my middle school clique

Last night I had a dream where I was playing cards at ValleyFair with my old middle school clique. It was a great dream. I miss these people so much — or at least I miss the idea of them.

There were eight of us. Two trios of girls who had known each other for a long time, and two sweet awkward boys. My now-and-forever best friend was part of this clique, but other than her these are mostly people I don’t talk to anymore, and that’s heartbreaking. For awhile they were the best thing ever. For awhile they were the only good thing.

It won’t surprise you to hear that I was a painfully awkward middle schooler. I was almost completely miserable for three straight years. So much of who I am was formed as a response to being miserable in middle school, the punk rock, don’t talk to me, prickliness was started there, a defense mechanism to keep myself safe and mostly sane. But these were the people I let in. Sometimes we were mean to each other, sometimes we fought, but I liked these people better than most the rest of our grade.

We had all these weird rituals that I can only half remember. We all had nicknames based off the Fruits Basket manga. (I kind of wonder if this current wave of nostalgia was kicked off because they’re publishing more Fruits Basket. I still have most of the original series on a shelf in the basement. I don’t read a lot of manga, but I honestly might give the new series a try because the original holds such a special place in my heart.) We liked pop punk bands, but not enough to try to dress like them. We thought Napoleon Dynamite was really cool. We mostly didn’t date. During recess we’d chatter and run around. We were almost in the same homeroom in eighth grade, and it was awesome.

We hardly ever hung out away from school all together. Five of us went to my high school, and we stayed friends through all of that. The other three drifted off. I think other people kept in touch better than I did, but I’m not actually sure. I wanted to stay friends with these people, but it didn’t really happen.

I’m facebook friends with everyone except for one girl, and my facebookless bff. I have a vague idea of what they’re up to, and they can keep tabs on me, even though so much of my life doesn’t make it onto facebook. That isn’t the same thing as actually knowing each other.

I’m such a different person now than when I finished eighth grade. It’s been eight years. That’s honestly terrifying.

I’m going to see my best friend tomorrow, and I’m going to suggest we have a reunion. I want to see how my old friends have turned out. (I watched High Fidelity for the first time in middle school, it may have been formative.) I want to know what kind of adults they are. I want to know if we still relate, if we still get along. I want to go to ValleyFair, like we used to for a field trip every year on the last day of school, but the idea of planning that sounds really ambitious. We can just get together and play cards. It seems like we did that a lot. Our game was presidents, or sometimes spoons. It was fun. It was good. I miss it.

I can’t go back in time, and I wouldn’t want to, but I want to find out if we can be a part of each other’s futures.

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