A faded picture stands centred in the page. It's edges are curling, the picture taking on a surreal look of something distant, like the memory it captures. Smiling up through the graininess, my best friend of much of my grade school smiles back at me, clutching a stuffed gorilla. She grins as though she is not wearing a polka dotted sweater with a red belt at the waist and as though she is not sporting bangs teased and combed to precisely 3 inches high.
It is this picture I think of when I go back in my mind. This picture of my best friend from Grade 7. From a time when my biggest concern was making claymation game pieces of characters from The Hobbit and whether or not I could try and fake being cool enough not to be made fun of by that mean boy in Grade 8 whom I was secretly crushing on something fierce.
This picture is the epitome of my youth. Girls with bad perms, braces and secrets. Grins and posing for pictures without the realization our outfits would come back to haunt us. I wonder at those girls now. How important babysitting and the mall and sleepovers had been. How we never guessed our lives would spread out so far as they did. At 12, one thinks life will always be like that - homemade lunches, pretending not to play with Barbies, the new excitement of hormones and the knowledge of boys.
And then, we are 30. Most of our classmates live in other cities with other lives which never include taping good songs off the radio or watching our friends get ready for a night out cruising down the main drag in hopes of finding our one true love. We have grown - mostly for the better - and become people we never dreamed we could be. And occasionally, we look back at those grainy photos of the past and think, "God, my mother let me out of the house like that?"