My friends. I guess what bound us all together in our little club was availability. We were the girls allowed to roam the neighborhoods after school every day, because our moms were at work, and none of us had babysitters. None of us had dads at home. I had a grandma, but she worked back then, too.
There were four of us that spent a lot of time together, but not all of us were friends with all of the others. Catherine and Julie didn’t get along, and Catherine never was the trouble-maker that Julie and I were. The other Julie had a dad at home, but not a mom, and we simply lived to torture her. We were forever playing mean pranks on her, and making fun of her. It’s horrible, really. She didn’t really deserve that. We were always going over to her house, and then ditching her . We would just literally run away. Granted, the girl was very strange and had some …issues. Nevertheless, she deserved better. Tatia liked being with me, but not Catherine or Julie.
Tatia was my best friend. She really didn’t hang out with any of the other girls, but she was my favorite and a true friend. She didn’t lean toward trouble, but toward adventure! She used to make the most annoying bird call noises just to drive me crazy. She stopped that, and tried her legs on karate and then ultimately became a very serious ballerina. We eventually lost touch, but I loved her. She was beautiful, and complex , and quirky, and kind. I also really liked her mom and dad. I remember her towing me on the back of her bike to her amazing dad’s place of work- the children’s museum! It was awesome. He played the synthesizer in the observatory as laser-light projections flashed on the ceiling. Sometimes there were heavy metal rock sessions, too. There was usually Rush and Pink Floyd playing. Even at age ten, I recognized a certain druggie element at some of those events.
Tatia and I had the most fun. We tried to hatch a duck’s egg. It broke. We rode our bikes all over a ten mile radius. She was the person I could talk to about anything, and she always had something interesting to say. We stayed up late at sleepovers, like most kids, giggling a lot, but also contemplating life. It was really hard when she moved away. She was strong about it, though. She was always strong about everything.
Then we had our periphery buddies. The ones that had more restrictions and home life than we did. These were the friends that wanted nothing to do with trouble, because they actually feared their parents- their very available parents.
Part two of the delinquency story: So, in our adventurous phase, we ventured into dangerous territory. Yes, more dangerous than swimming in an alligator-infested Florida creek. Julie talked me into playing in a church under construction. We trespassed. We climbed scaffolding in the building, and we walked a plank laid from the balcony seating, across the entire sanctuary far below, and into the balcony seating on the other side. The face that we didn’t know we faced certain death seemed to help. I believe that angels were near. It was a church, after all. Nobody fell.
Fast forward a few months. I decide to go show off my bad girl ways to a new friend named Katie. I have loved the name “Katie” ever since. Anyway, she invited me in. I spied a parent’s leftover roach in an ashtray. I decided we should smoke it. Katie got freaked out and began warning me how much trouble she would get into if we did- blah, blah, blah. I wouldn’t hear of such cowardice. I proceeded to light it up. Not satisfied with that , I got to looking at the abandoned, boarded up house next door. I could see it from Katie’ s living room window. It had been tempting me for some time. An abandoned house was a chance to explore and have an epic adventure! After a lot of my begging and whining, I won out over Katie’s terrified reluctance, and we went over. I went to the back door. It was glass and wooden, and a television was pushed up against the door. I pushed it far enough to get in. “Come on! I got in! Follow me!” Katie was still warning me every moment that the owner had this place watched. She’d gotten in trouble for nosing around there before, and told me that the owner was really mean. On and on she harped. I didn’t listen. I began my exploration. I don’t know what possessed me. I began opening cupboards and found a huge stash of Lucky Strike cigarettes, in the carton. I started tossing them out a window to take with me later. I pillaged and carried on like a primate let loose from the zoo.
( Think: Breaking and entering, vandalism, trespassing, burglary) So, anyway, Katie was lagging behind- nagging behind me, but I refused to hear her. Suddenly, Katie was gone, but I was lost in my revelry. She is begging me to get out of there. Finally, I decide to listen. She jumps out a first story window. Not much of a drop. But, my fear of heights kicks in now, of all moments. I spend probably a good 17 minutes contemplating jumping, while Katie is practically shrieking for me to jump. Then her eyes get super wide and she dashes off. Suddenly a huge hand clamps down on my arm, and I am face to face with a very large, hairy man. He doesn’t look happy. He begins touring me around the house, to the scene of all of my crimes. “Did YOU DO THIS? And THIS? How about this?” I confessed with a relative amount of detached apathy. I am surprised he didn’t kill me outright. He informed me this was his mother’s house, and how dare I, and the police were coming. It was hard to hear him, loud as he was, over the roar of pounding blood in my ears. The black and white showed up soon. I ratted out my ‘friend’, but that wasn’t fair. Her mom dealt with her severely. I never saw her again. Sigh…So there I was , a barefooted rat- a puny ten-year old in Juvenile detention, until my mom came to get me. I was petrified. I had a mug shot and fingerprints taken at age ten! I’d love to see that picture!
Well, I got scared straight for the next few years. But, trouble seemed to run in my blood back then. I hadn’t even hit puberty yet.
Stay tuned for the next segment of my misspent youth.