The boy I sat next to in 7th grade math class accepted my Facebook friend request. I still have the mark on my leg from when he stabbed me with a pencil. I can't remember what prompted such an attack. I might have been making fun of how short he was. Maybe. Remember this is 7th grade...the girls were all getting used to wearing their bras every day, yet all the boys hadn't quite hit their growth spurts.
I'm friends with lots of people with whom I went to school. Too Tall K, who lived down the hall from me. MID, who carries on the tradition of her mother's chicken and potatoes. RB, who is still the social butterfly and who is still one of the coolest people on the planet. G, who still carries her camera everywhere she goes. And all those beautiful girls with whom I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Seriously, these were some of the most stunning girls on the planet.
I like to look their pictures. Invariably there are the kid pictures (if they are parents), the pet pictures (if they have dogs/cats/whatever)...and there are the pictures of our youth.
Brooklyn is exactly like you see in the movies. The scene where John Travolta walking down the street in Saturday Night Fever is so typical. I could be watching a home movie. My uncle looked just like that, only he was blond. The hair, the strut, the working class mentality...that was Uncle J, to a tee.
Brooklyn takes the idea of "6 degrees of separation" very seriously. And it's usually less than 6 degrees. The wife of one of my ex boyfriends went to a rival all girls Catholic high school with one of my summer sisters. And conversely, this man's mother used to be the administrator of one of my co-workers when she worked at another hospital. And on a totally separate note, I used to be a cashier in the same supermarket as Too Tall K's wife and her sister, waaaaaay before Too Tall K ever met her.
Although Brooklyn could never be considered a small town, each neighborhood had a small town feel. Each neighborhood had its playground, its alley to sneak smokes you swiped from someone's parents, its own park where you first let the icy waterslide of a Calvin cooler or a Budweiser slosh down your throat in your first effort to be a bad ass, its dark streets perfect for making out with that dreamy guy on a Saturday night, its own dive bar when you first started drinking (always before we were 21, but they didn't card back then) and that crazy ole lady who'd call the cops if you so much as sneezed outside her house past 7:30pm.
As this tumultuous year nears its end, I find myself thinking back to those simpler times. When deciding whether to change into your sweatpants for gym class was worth the effort or if you'd chance getting marked "unprepared."
As I look at those sweet faces of my youth, I can't help but get nostalgic. Tis this season, I suppose. I think of family members who have passed on, the innocence I was in such a rush to get rid of and of all those lost chances. I let these memories wash over me, not pushing them away, but welcoming their visit. I know my own daughter will experience all these things for herself in due course and I hope the innocence will be cherished on her part, I hope the chances will not taken for granted and the rush of a first beer/kiss/ride in the cool guy's car will always be remembered. The craziness and anger that is my life now will one day be in the past and when it creeps up on me, I'll remember this time in my life for what it taught me about patience, my inner peace and for fighting for what I believed in. And I will be proud of the way I handled myself.