August 2007 – Girl Meets Boy
We had all just entered this new and strange place they call “middle school,” and we weren’t really sure what to expect. He was sitting with a few other guys at a crowded lunchroom table. I noticed him immediately because I didn’t know who he was. My best friend and I were trying to find a place to sit. She suggested that we go and sit at the table second from the end – the table where he was sitting.
“Do we really have to go over there?” I asked her. “There are other tables all over the place.”
“I think I see Crystal and Mari,” she replied. “They’ll want us to sit with them. C’mon, it’ll be okay.” Somehow in this one instance, she was less shy than I.
We sat down at that table and started a friendship that would change my life entirely.
He said his name was Ben. Cute. One of my friends instantly started calling him “Benji,” and I didn’t know why, but that really bothered me. He and I didn’t have any classes together, but we all had the same lunch. Every day, it was the same thing; my friends and I would find our table, sit down, and talk to each other while the guys – Ben, Zach, and James – would talk nonsense on the other side. Occasionally, we would hold some sort of weird-food-challenge (milk poured over applesauce, ketchup on top of sweet potatoes, etc). These were the kinds of challenges you only see happening in a middle school cafeteria. He was brave; he ate chocolate-milk-covered-applesauce like it was normal. For 7th-grade-me, that was enough.
I developed a crush. But so did my best friend.
They started dating a few months later. It was a really difficult time for me, and she and I started fighting a lot more – not that she knew why I was mad at her. I had no intentions of breaking them up – because, you know, girl code. But I couldn’t help feeling jealous at every little thing they did together. I started distancing myself from everyone and hanging out with other people. It wasn’t my proudest time of life, but it kept me from going insane. I occasionally ate lunch with some other girls – who I considered to be a part of the popular crowd – and became someone who lived on “both sides.” I wasn’t totally popular because I knew and hung out with Ben and his friends. But I wasn’t completely in their group either because I knew and talked to the popular people.
Petty middle school stuff. Tragic, really.
This lasted into our 8th-grade year – one of the most stressful times of a young life. I was about to go into high school, I didn’t really have a clear-cut friend group, and I was pretty sure that my then-boyfriend didn’t really like me at all and was about to leave my town anyway. Well, so was I. I ended up moving to a small town in the south of Delaware, leaving behind the promise that I would stay in touch with my friends – both “popular” and “regular.” Those were just the terms I knew how to use to describe them.
That promise didn’t really last long. I fell off with the “popular” kids almost immediately; I guess once you move away, you’re not really on their radar anymore. I stayed in touch with my original friend group via a Facebook thread, but even that ended. Ben and I weren’t really talking much – no doubt the product of not really having known each other – and even my best friend and I got into a huge fight and then hardly ever spoke again. But I would be seeing these people again sooner than I thought.
March 2012 – Girl Finds Boy Again (By Accident)
I had a life in that small town that seemed totally separate from my life further north. My mom and I had made friends there who I thought were my final-friends – the ones about whom I would spend the rest of my days reminiscing. I even dated a few different people in those three years I spent down there. They were all awful guys, but I had to learn that on my own – had to develop a liking for the good guys. I thought I had finally built a home in that little town. But we ended up having to move again, back to the town (and the school district) that I was originally a part of.
This was another giant adjustment for me; I spent a week not even in a school because my mom didn’t want to me to go where our address said I belonged. The high school she had gone to – of which I was about to be a part – was “a bad school” according to her perception. She originally tried to choice me into a different school in the same district. She went back and forth with the principal about it, but eventually it was decided that the choicing period was over. I had to go to her old school.
On my first day, I was a little nervous because I was the new girl. I recognized a few people I had known from middle school – after all, this was the same district – but I didn’t say hi to them (or to anyone). I minded my own business and kept to myself – until lunchtime.
I was standing in line, not really sure if the temporary lunch number I had been given was even going to work, when a really tall kid turned around and scrunched up his face as if he knew me. It took him a couple of seconds, but I had already remembered who he was. We had a bad habit of meeting in lunch rooms.
Like I said, I wasn’t even supposed to be at that school. If my mom and I had moved a little earlier, I likely would have ended up at the school where my original best friend was enrolled. I learned later that she and Ben had never been able to rekindle their relationship after ending up in separate high schools, and after the huge fight she and I had years ago, girl code didn’t really seem to matter much. So, I started dating Ben a few months later. And here we are, five years past that really awkward part of my life, and we’re engaged! We’re still kinda awkward, but now we’re awkward together. And I will never let him get away again.