Friends

So high school friends.

The first friend in my memory is Larry. I am not sure how or where I met him. But we were friends for a short period. Then he started hanging out with my sister. But before, I recall going to his house. He had a Ouija Board. And he told me about crystals. Rub your hands together and you can feel the power of a crystal. I think the transition from him being my friend, to her friend was gradual.

Maybe they were friends. Maybe they were not friends. But for a while the neighbors were friendly. I know their son Charles was the first person I drank with in my life. He said it would be good to put some salt in the beer. And we didn’t drink much of the beer. I think we may have split it, and I didn’t finish. This was the only time in my life I think I have ever drank beer. As opposed to other alcohols, but I haven’t drank in years.

Some of the younger children on the street were my friends. At least in the first years of high school. Eric had a younger brother also named Chris. We would ride our bikes up and down the street. On the shoulders of the streets we had paths and jumps. Sometimes I would go to his house. He had a hammock in the back yard. And when we played games our balls would sometimes get stuck in the tree. And we would have to throw something to get it down. And then something to get what we threw down. And then sometimes even more. We had some silly dance contests, which I always won. I wasn’t the judge, but I think Eric looked up to me. The prize was just a cracker anyway.

On the other side from where Charles lived, another family moved in after we had been there a while. I remember when the house was being built. We would take our skates and roll around on the foundation. And once we went to the house and it was locked, but a note on the door directed us to the key. The older boy, about my age was not a friend. The younger boy spent time with us riding bikes. There was one time the three of use built a dam, and small lake on the creek behind Eric’s house. It didn’t last long, but it was a fun adventure.

It was late in my high school years when another boy moved in down the street. He wasn’t a close friend. But I did go to his house once. He told me how he melted his super-soaker by putting gasoline in it instead of water. He was kind of a bad boy, and he was friends with some girls who lived a street over. I remember hanging out at her house, she smoked in her room. She said her mother didn’t know because her mother also smoked. Her younger sister would float around too. They had a trampoline on which I recall jumping. She was younger, and the impression I got was she was easy. I thought she was sexy, but I was both too scared and respectful to try anything. But there was a short period where hanging out with these bad kids made me feel cool. I felt accepted in a way I had not felt before. But over time it faded and I got bored. It was trouble for the sake of trouble and I have never been into trouble.

There was a boy who was friends with Charles. I think they would go and smoke by the water tower after school. He would pick on my sometimes, and after one event he did so even more. But, somethings you learn to accept. There were no seats on the bus for me one day for the trip home. Well, except one and I tried not to sit there, but the driver yelled and told me to sit. It was next to Brandon. He made fun of my all the way home, and was a general pest. When we got to our stop, he got off with us. This wasn’t unusual, but he was walking in front of me, and he lived the other direction.

When the bus left, he turned around and walked back to me. Before I knew what was going on he hit me right in the throat. But, Charles and his friend anticipated the trouble. They ran across the street and gave Brandon a good beating. I recall hearing he had to get his front teeth wired straight. Then afterwards the boy who beat Brandon up would use it as an excuse to pick on me.

When I was in high school I knew almost everyone. This was in large part because I had gone to two of the three feeder schools. And I have always been a friendly person. Not the most popular, not the coolest, not the person everyone loves or hates. But generally accepted by most people. I stayed out of trouble.

There was a girl I had a crush on also. Once again I don’t recall her name. But I would walk home with her, and she lived on the opposite end of the subdivision. At her house, we would listen to Debbie Gibson. The other kids would sometimes make fun of us, saying we were dating. But we never were more than friends. I don’t think I knew what to do with girls when I was in high school. Maybe not even when I was in college. And even now.

In my youth group there was Jason and his brother. They were my friends. They came from a large family, invested in the church. The rest of the people in the church always felt like they placed themselves above me. I can’t say if this was just how I felt, or if it was also how they felt about me. But being young, and growing up isn’t easy for anyone.

Once I did some yard work for a man with A.I.D.S. He was dying, and you could tell. He would sit in his house, watch TV, and mute the commercials. I never knew much about him. But I did a terrible job at the yard work. When mowing I broke his irrigation. And when I mowed the front yard, I missed long lines where I didn’t overlap the mower right. In the end I don’t know how much he paid me. One time I used his car to go into town and get money. I think I pulled it out of his credit card instead of his checking account. Banking was not something I knew much about in high school. Add it to the list.

Then there was Jessie James. And like the name would suggest he should be a chapter to himself.

Thinking back, I knew a lot of people. There is something about me, I always know a lot of people. But none of them were close. In high school I wasn’t close to anyone. When my father once started drinking after having quit, I recall feeling I had no one to talk to about my problems. No one who understood me.

I have forgotten so many names. And writing this now I wonder where these people are now. I hope they are well, but I know many of them are not. Many of them were on the road to trouble when I knew them in high school. But I would hope friends like Eric and Little Chris (his brother) would be doing well. I believe Charles became a cop. And I hear Larry has been living in Berkeley. But I don’t talk to anyone from high school.

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