There are some times in my life I want back. The more innocent times, the time I dressed up as Cyndi Lauper for Halloween, the times I was surrounded by family and friends. The times before we lost all my uncles and things became very painful. Those times I could relive again.
There are other times I would not want back, time you couldn't force me to do over again at shotgun. I realized today that one of those times is junior high. Not for any money in the world would I revisit that time in my life. Sure, if I could there are several things I would've done differently, like say not gotten a perm, or not kissing who I gave my first kiss to (Homecoming 7th grade year was awkward to say the least). But even if I was given a chance to revisit and change those things? No way. Not on your life, my life, the life of that little cute panda. Not happening.
Because, and I'm just going to come right out and say this, that age sucks. That age for a girl? Sucks ten times worse. First off, you're not comfortable in your own body yet. On top of that, you're not sure if you ever will be. Nothing fits right. Everything feels off-kilter on a regular basis. Add to that being a self-righteous snot. At least, I know I was. That was the age where I felt utterly picked on and disliked, but what I didn't realize is that I had done a lot of that to myself, feeling above it all, which I most certainly wasn't, what with learning to spell Boobless on a calculator and all. And then I, or another friend, I don't remember now, decided to spell 'Debbie is boobless' on a calculator which actually brought the wrath of my best friend Debbie, because Debbie at that age was boobless and self-conscious and thought it was a slight against her, which it wasn't, it was just an unthinking joke on whose part? I forget. But that brought her ire and almost total and utter abandonment because she was not having it.
And that's the other thing about that age, fickle friendships, and girl bitterness and just overall evilness, on my part directed at someone else or from someone else directed at me. I could be cruel, but could receive heart-breaking cruelty in return. It was horrible. Add to that the discovery of boys and you have a potentially lethal cocktail of heartache, heartbreak and pain. Boys should not break up the friendship hierarchy, first off, but they do. And don't tell me there wasn't a friendship hierarchy, because at that age everything is fickle, so the person you thought was your best friend one week is easily replaced by a new best friend the next, or worse you're easily replicable, and so you have a friendship hierarchy that you think has a sturdy base but then one week you realize everything has changed and your friendship hierarchy is really just a house of cards, a house of cards ready to topple, only to be built up so that it can be toppled and built up again and again.
Boys were a different thing entirely. There were the boys that you liked as friends, then the boys you liked more than friends, and then there were the boys that were utterly god-like and untouchable to the point that you thought you might have to kneel down at pray at their feet. Forget talking to them. And your best friend had her own boy hierarchy, and at the level that you shared the same guy friends, and the same boy deities, everything was fine. The twin boys two grades older that didn't know your names?There was enough to go around there and besides they were beyond attainable, and also interchangeable. But God forbid you actually talk to the actual boy your best friend has a crush on? Or should I say friend now? Because you just got knocked down a peg on the friend hierarchy and if you keep talking to him, you won't be a card on that house at all.
Yeah, all of that? I do not want at all ever again. One thing I doubly do not want? That would be like five million pounds of salt on an open wound? To have to go through all that in this day and age. Tween girls can't even afford to be tragic anymore. Let's face it, I was definitely tragic. The hair, trying to pick out my own clothes and failing miserably to do so in any cohesive fashion. But nowadays girls can't even afford to do that anymore. It's all being fed to them, the way they should look, the hair, the highlights, the manicures, pedicures, shopping at The Limited Too. Girls have to face the firing squad of junior high on an almost daily basis and now they have to face increasing pressure to look and dress a certain way, and if they chose to do differently? It feels like they have even more strict codes to adhere to than they ever had to before. Wanna go punk or goth? It's not just a matter of dying your hair and dressing all in black anymore. I swear to God I'm convinced kids are issued a handbook for that nowadays. You can't just be yourself, which at that age you don't know what the heck that is anyways, but you have to be what your fed to believe is the correct you. That just ain't right. Just yesterday that same girl was playing with barbies and now all of the sudden she's got to think about bras and her boobs and the fact that Jennie's boobs are bigger and that Jimmy who she has a crush on seems to be looking at Jennie more and on top of that she's got to think about what she should by, and if she should get extension or highlights. That I would not do, could not do again to save my own life.
So what brought me to this major epiphany? I went to lunch with my friend Mia and was inundated with junior high schoolers fresh from their last day of school, all wearing their cutest outfits. I was trying to carry on polite conversation, but I just couldn't. Just to look in on them at that age, out from under their parents and to analyze it, look at it from an observational point of view even gave me the shudders. The way they talked, acted, dressed, carried on with each other, as if nothing mattered but it was quite obvious that everything mattered and they just teetered on the edge of inhibition and total vulnerability was kind of almost heartbreaking. I couldn't really keep a conversation together at that, just looking at them, listening to them as they talk inanely, going through their yearbooks and discussing school functions. All I could think of and articulate was that I could never do that age again. I wish that age was easier, easier for me to have gone through, easier for my friends who had it just as tough although I probably didn't recognize it at the time, and easier for the girls now, who have to live through it and walk that tight rope of blooming adolescence which seems an even harder feat than it was back then. I wish that age will be easier for my nieces, for possibly my own daughter when I have one. It's a right of passage, but it's own that seems harder and harder to pass through unscathed.