I heard a song on the radio this morning that transported me back to grade school: Our Lips are Sealed by the Go-Gos. I was instantly thinking of my old best friend. ADG had the Go-Gos album. Her mom worked at the local bakery and I thought that was a really cool job! Her dad was in the forces and ADG rarely saw him. Songs take me to very specific moments: If You Leave me Now by Chicago is always playing somewhere on a rainy morning as I’m being dropped off at day care. It must be spring but I’m wearing a big coat. Most Wings songs shout summertime to me – usually I feel I’m in the public pool across town – I can still smell the chlorine! Although, having said that, I think my little sleepy town was still in shock after the split up of The Beatles because there are certain Beatles songs that I thought were from Wings: Got to Get You Into My Life is one in particular I’m thinking of. Little River Band is also from the same period as the Go-Gos but a different season. LRB were a winter band when I was a big school-ager; I would hum their songs while pretending to ice skate in between the rows of corn behind the school. The ice was thick enough, but the regular mounds of earth would prevent any of us going too far too quickly.
Back then, I used to try to get ribbons into barrettes, put multicoloured beads on safety pins and clipped them to my shoes (the more you had, the more friends you had), wore Britannia jeans (with a little brass label on the back pocket) and wore lip gloss that tasted like bubble gum. I had a rainbow headband which I would wear red-forward if I were wearing warmer colours and purple forward if I were wearing cooler colours. Monicals Pizza was just down the road; they had brass coat racks, wooden booths and Mucha paintings which Mom thought looked like Grandma. I can still smell the sausage and mushroom pizza! I thought that everything revolved around Washington Street – it was where my friends lived, where I lived, where my school was. I felt grown up because I was finally among the oldest to go to my primary school and our door was at the back of the building – away from the little children. I was young enough to appreciate a beautiful spring day by running and jumping, but old enough not to try to beat the cloud shadows across (what seemed to be) the never-ending field on the side of the school.
I even had a little history there: the church on the corner was where I was taken as a very young child for day care. I remembered the smell of the place and its large wooden coat hooks and playing in the yard. It wasn’t until many years later that my mom confirmed that that actually was the church where I’d been taken, but at the time I thought it was too much of a coincidence and put the memories out of my mind.
I grew up in a more innocent America . The words: terrorism, bombs, Endometriosis and recession weren’t in my vocabulary. I was sheltered by the oceans on either side of my continent. Back then, the launch of space shuttles was televised and our class stopped so we could watch Space Shuttle Columbia’s lift off. I dreamt of unicorns, horses and Pegasus. Other girls had Barbie, I had model horses. I even rode my red bicycle as if it were a horse: bouncing in time with its canter. The Muppets made a movie and, because we got into the theatre early I said to Mom, let’s just go in. So we did and we saw the end and then saw it from the beginning. Mom, did you ask if we could go because we’d seen the ending? I’m sure I said I wanted to see the end again if you wanted to get away. Back then I could eat buttered popcorn without it hurting my stomach. Magic was everywhere and you could have it if you had enough rainbows around you – so I had prisms hanging on my windows and a rainbow bumper sticker on Mom’s metallic brown car. Say Mom, do you remember the sound your back used to make on the seats of that horrible car? It had plastic seat covers and in the (painfully hot!) summer it sounded as though Mom’s skin was coming off when she’d lean forward.
My best friends were three girls: together we were almost a foursome but not quite. It was mainly me and ADG while SB was best friends with MH. After a couple of years ADG and SB moved away, I tried to be friends mainly with MH but it didn’t work out. Being childish, I thought she smelled funny and was a bit dumb. I didn’t miss them when I got to Junior High and High School. MH, I found years later, had discovered pot and booze in Junior High. As we didn’t have any classes together, we didn’t go around in the same circles. ADG has become a successful business woman in the Midwest . MH hit the bottom of the barrel and climbed back out the other side. She’s become a successful manager in a business. Unfortunately, SB has a chronic illness that has left her unable to work. She regularly does things for charity and has become a strong, sensitive and funny woman. Growing up, I thought I’d never see or hear from any of them again. Although I didn’t think I missed them, It’s wonderful to know what became of us all.