As a continuation from my “Me…In Grade School” post, it’s time to dive into middle school. As I lost one best friend I gained a new one, and little did I know that another was right around the corner. There was only one Catholic middle school and high school in my area, however there were multiple grade schools. So when middle school started I was surrounded by classmates I knew and ones that I didn’t know. It made for a nervous start to the year to find myself surrounded by so many strangers I didn’t know. Having spent 7 years with the same students, I wasn’t accustomed to having to make new friends or talk to new students. But in a short amount of time that did change…
A new Friend
It was the second week or so of school and I was in English class. Like most of the other classes I had, we were arranged via a seating chart of the teachers choice. I’d not yet properly introduced myself to some to the new students around me, but that changed when I looked over and saw that the boy next to me was wearing the same Fossil brand wrist watch that I was. I found it quite interesting because not many other students were even wearing watches yet. So of course I said something to him and he was just as shocked to see me wearing the same watch as he was. Within 5 minutes of talking to each other I learned that he also lived in the same neighborhood as I did. We were astounded by how crazy everything seemed. In the span of 10-15 minutes I found another student wearing the same watch as me AND who lived in my neighborhood. Just wow!
From that day forward we were best friends, and ironically enough he is the only friend from middle or high school that I still stay in contact with to this day. We plan vacation time together each year so we can hang out playing videos games, golfing, etc. And even more ironically my relationship with him was purely insane. What I did not know when I first met him was that he had some issues, especially with anger. And a few months in to our new friendship he was banned from my house by my parents for having a tantrum in our drive way where he yelled and threw his bike on the ground multiple times. It didn’t stop us though from sneaking out late at night on the weekends to hang out or hanging out at school. And it didn’t take long after my parents allowed him back at our house a few months later, to ban him all over again. This was essentially the pattern that stuck even through high school. But that gets much more complicated and I’ll touch on that in my high school post.
I’d never been involved in any school activities prior to middle school. But that changed with me joining the band as a trumpet player, and joining the drama club to perform in the school plays. By my second year (and final year since there were only 2 years of middle school) I was playing lead roles in the drama club and I was playing first trumpet in band. I always looked forward to band, which was one of my actual classes during the day. But I was always even more excited for drama club which was after school. When school was out I would line up at the snack counter where a staff member sold snacks and drinks, and I would buy a candy bar and a soda before heading to drama club.
Middle school was sort of the break between grade school and high school in regards to me feeling like I was above everyone else. That part of me never died out, but it was muffled by the activities that I was involved with. Middle school allowed me to feel more like a kid than grade school had. In grade school I’d paid students to comply with my demands, punished students who defied me, and spent most days trying to figure out how I would one day rule the world. But middle school changed that. And I can’t say it was just the activities that distracted me…I think a lot of the reasoning was all the new students. How was I to act the same way around so many new students? I was nervous around them at first and I needed to become more aquatinted with them before I could properly feel comfortable around them.
Doing that didn’t take too long. I’d say with the first quarter of middle school I’d accomplished that. But by that time I was invested in these other activities and I wasn’t focused on me anymore. Instead I was focused on learning how to play a new instrument and I was memorizing lines for school performances. This was a very good thing and I have such great memories from middle school. If I could actually choose to go back to elementary, middle, or high school I would choose middle school because I felt like I properly lived as a kid during that time period.
But it doesn’t mean I gave up control over my group of friends…
I started a club with three of my friends. It was very exclusive and I, of course, was the president. Through the club we would help each other and gain internal rewards…and by help each other I mostly mean they helped me. Using play money, certain tasks were assigned a certain dollar value. Whether it was doing a stupid stunt, or completing an actual task like helping me or another member with their homework, literally everything had a value. And through the wealth accumulated in the club, my friends gained ranks and respect. We stuck together. I had their backs and they had mine. But it was primarily fantasy and just for fun. That’s why we used fake money for rewards and for the most part we just hung out together. The club ended before high school.
The Drunk Squirrels
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of middle school (or not so much…), our band…The Drunk Squirrels. Using the picture of a squirrel drinking from a beer can with a straw as our logo, we rocked the dead end street that I lived on with performances featuring a trumpet player (me), flute player (my new friend), and drummer (my best friend I made at the end of grade school). We mostly just played songs we learned in band class, but we used our band to keep our love for music alive outside of the classroom. We had some good times.
I can honestly say I miss middle school. I had some really good teachers, so many fun times, and I was more active in school activities than I ever would be again. I made some new friends, got to know my new classmates, and got along with my fellow students (new and old) for the most part. I’ll never forget sneaking out late on Friday or Saturday nights and meeting up with my new best friend in our neighborhood. We weren’t getting into trouble or anything. We mostly just walked around the neighborhood or found a place to sit on a street corner and just talked through the night. My new friend became the only person who I could talk to about anything. I played my poker face in the presence of others, but with him I didn’t have to. I could just be myself.
High school become a different ball game for our friendship, and how we remained friends is beyond me…