In middle school, I had a real best friend. One I chose for myself, and one that chose me right back. I don’t even remember the first day I met Sara. I hope she does. We were always together. Package deal for two whole years. We had RT bus passes and we rode that damn bus all over this town. We walked up and down J Street a bajillion times. All the way from River Park to Old Sac, as far as American River Drive. One time, we were walking across the bridge and there was a naked man swinging his junk around like a helicopter, shouting at us, 12/13 year old girls. I can’t remember what he said to us, but I’m pretty sure we ran away and laughed all the way to my apartment complex. So offensive. Young girls. Damn.
Sara and I were coming of age in the mid 80’s, the era of boom boxes and neon, skater boys and punk, and whatever the opposite of helicopter parenting is. I will have to google that. We even had sleepovers on school nights, sometimes. We rotated between her dad’s house, her mom’s house, and my house or apartment or condo or my mom’s boyfriend’s house, etc. Yes, I really lived in all of those different places in that two years. I’m not exaggerating. At least it was in the same city. Only 3 different schools in middle school. Natomas Union, Sutter Middle, Country Day (on scholarship), and back to Sutter after a trimester cuz I hated being the outsider scholarship kid at a small private school where all of them had been together since kindergarten. And mostly, I missed Sara.
One time, when Sara was at Sutter and I was at Country Day, she had pink eye and got to stay home from school for a week. So I took my finger and rubbed it in her eye and then in my eye so that I would get it, too. I did, and I got to stay home from school for a whole week, too. That was awesome.
I think my favorite place to be was her mom’s house. I loved her mom. She always got us Bel Air chow mein. We ate it cold. I don’t remember a microwave, then. I felt the safest there, and I can’t pinpoint why. It just felt like the kind of home you could take a deep breath and let it out and just be. No yelling. No lofty expectations. No punishment, but no reason to be punished, either. No need to rebel, that I can remember. A place where you could figure out who you are. It was a safe space. I was welcomed and taken care of, there. I stayed with them when my mom was in the hospital after her car accident. I didn’t know the weight of that time period, then. But I know it now. How different life is when you feel safe. I hope Sara always felt that way and felt as safe with me as I did with her.
One time we were visiting Sara’s grandparents. They lived in a small white house with a cute backyard. Sara and I were into ouija boards. We tried to talk to spirits and thought it was real. We even made our own ouija boards. That day, we used a white gift box lid and wrote all the letters and numbers, yes, no, and goodbye. We just used a piece of paper as a planchette, I think. We sat in the backyard so her grandparents wouldn’t know what we were doing. I know I didn’t move that thing, not ever. I don’t think Sara did, either. That day, we were talking to a spirit and this time it was threatening. It said it was going to hurt one of us. When we asked how, it replied “kut.” We asked who it was, and it replied “Lucifer.” We freaked the fuck out, tore up that ouija board into tiny pieces and ran back inside the house. While running, Sara’s shoulder hit the corner of the swamp cooler hanging out the window and she was bleeding. It was a small cut/gouge, but I’m sure it hurt and to us it was all the evidence we needed to never ever use a ouija board again. I am 49 years old and still remember how scared I was. No ouija boards allowed at my house. 0/10, do not recommend.
We also tried to hypnotize each other and we swear it worked. We would have the person being hypnotized lay down with their head in our lap and rub their temples while counting down from 100 with a soft, hypnotic voice. We said they were falling down a hole and the bottom was infinite. I don’t even remember what we were trying to do with the hypnosis. I only remember the counting down and temple rubbing and falling down into an infinite hole. We thought we were magic. And even now I think maybe we were.
We wore all the swatch watches and Gotcha t-shirts, and I swear I wore the same shorts all summer and K-Swiss with no socks that stunk to high hell. We laid out in the sun and used baby oil or Bain de Soleil, the orange tanning gel. We put lemon juice and Sun-In in our hair cuz we wanted to be blonde, but instead we were just orange, peroxide. We spent so much time in River Park, either at some cute boy’s house or at Paradise Beach. The same beach my mom hung out at with her friends and where I swam back and forth across the river as a child, no life vest.
Sara and I did a whole lot of coming of age together in those two years before high school. She went on to Sac High and my mom made me go to CKM. We went our separate ways, new friends, new life. But there was no explosive or dramatic end to our friendship, it just faded in to the background. Friends for a reason, friends for a season. That was an important season and I am thankful.
So no ouija boards. Ever. But burn all the sage. That shit works.