In junior high, I made some friends who evaporated in high school – friends who just went a different path and found a different route to their happiness. While mine lay in discovering that I could use my talents and my tendency to talk in the Ag end of the building, theirs lay in the school musicals and AP classes (I opted for post-secondary, and consequently missed out on the senior year hoopla of AP challenges). While I was dreaming of molding young high school students (a dream changed by the reality of student teaching), they were…well, I don’t know. We weren’t in the same circles any longer. It wasn’t a case of popularity; it was a case of different paths.

Before our high school reunion last year, someone put together a reunion website, and quite a few people submitted their information. I watched it daily, quizzing myself on who was who and wondering why I hadn’t stayed in touch with those friends from junior high.

I didn’t go to the class reunion. I just had no interest. No, I don’t want to show up and say “look at me,” because I don’t care. I might go in ten more years, or I might not. Maybe I’ll care then. Maybe I’ll want to use a precious night with my husband in a group of strangers who want to fake interest in my life. We’ll see.

This week, I received a message from one of those long lost junior high friends. And I replied. And she replied. And I thought to myself, “Hmm. This is interesting.” Because I find myself caring what she says, reading what she writes, and feeling slightly hopeful. Could it be?

This morning, catching up on dishes, I remembered the first time I went to Erin’s house. I think it was that year of eighth grade, when my world was whirling by and change was threatening me at every turn. It was also the year of hope for me, even though the crash in my ears was my dad’s second marriage. Somehow, in eighth grade, I started to think I had a chance. One of those eighth grade teachers – or maybe the whole team of them – planted a seed in me, one that would take ten years to be watered, and fifteen to be fruitful.

When I stood at the doorway to Erin’s house, on that first visit (and it’s possible that I was only there once), I was struck by the silence. There was a hush, a stillness, a peace in the air. It contrasted with our loud and boisterous camp headquarters, where people were in and out at all hours and we didn’t quiet ourselves for anything. It felt, to me, exactly like a museum, a place where great things were happening or waiting or living.

Adding to this feeling of greatness was the décor. I don’t remember specifics beyond the plush carpet feeling and the harp. Our tile and linoleum floors were ordinary and comfortable in a way that would never take your breath away, and the old upright I remember from our living room left the house with my parents’ marriage, back when I was in third grade.

There was also the bearing of her mother. Looking back, I don’t even remember what she looked like, but I remember being awed by her dignity, by the way she carried herself, by what I can only call class.

The room we met in (we were working on a group project – something about Pompeii and it was a contest, but I can’t remember the name of it) had no TV. This was a novelty. I’ve never been one for watching much TV, but I’ve also been pretty solitary in that. Almost everyone I know watches twice as much TV as me, minimum. As with the reunions, I just find I don’t care. And when I do care, it’s dangerously close to an addiction, and then I must wean myself (because they’re not real people, and many of them aren’t doing things I should be emulating!). But to find a house with no TV in a room that people will spend time together in – THAT was worth thinking about.

After eighth grade and a couple of phone calls, Erin and I went separate ways. It’s interesting to “meet” her again, after all this time, when I’m such a different person than I was in college (but, perhaps, not so very different than I was in eighth grade?). I always wanted to be better friends with her, especially since she was also one of the few people who read, read, read. I remember her as being promising in her writing as well (and was intrigued to see her using that in the PR/advertising industry, which speaks to my own past).