May 6, 2012

Sharing Memories (Week 19): New Friends

Welcome to Week 19 of our 52 weeks of Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey for 2012. This is our third year writing our memoirs and childhood memories for our descendants.

If you are just joining us, you can take a peek at the last two years' of prompts by clicking on the Sharing Memories tab at the top of the blog. You can jump in at any time and you can skip topics that you don't like. There are no rules, it's all about getting your memories down on paper. The prompts are here as a guide to help if you are stuck for ideas.

Share your memories here in the comment section, on your own blog, or privately in a journal you keep at home.

This week I've been thinking a lot about mixing with the kids from the new area of our town. In last week's Sharing Memories post I talked about how we were separated both financially and geographically by the East-West main highway and the railway tracks. Each area had its own schools from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Once we hit Grade 7 we were thrown together in a school in the new area for the next two years. Then High School from Grade 9 to 13. It was also in the new area. So we kids from the old area were always thrown into home team territory!

Once in High School we were separated by marks and perceived academic abilities. I was put into 9A (yes even back then I was a geek) with kids I'd only known since Grade 7. And I only knew them to mumble "hi" as we passed in the hall or entered a classroom at the same time. There was only one other person in the same class as me but thankfully it was my best friend Janie!

Everyone else that I knew was in 9B and 9C and I very quickly learned that not only did new area and old area kids not mix, 9A did not mix with anyone in a lower class (so 9B and 9C etc were off limits)

To top it off I was extremely shy and withdrawn back then. Oh how I've changed! But Grade 9 was a difficult year for me and to add to the challenges, my older siblings had gone to a different High School since mine was brand new. So no one knew our family.

Added to those drawbacks I had what I considered a major one. I didn't have the same clothes as the other girls so I never felt like I fit in. They had the latest styles in skirts, shoes and sweaters while I only had two changes of clothes. I had two skirts that my mother made out of gingham window curtains. One was blue and white, the other was pink and white. I wore a white button down blouse (I had two identical ones) with those skirts. And that was it. I felt like such a loser. Then my dad died that Christmas.  Let's just say it was a rough year.

But much to my surprise I made lots of friends from the new area. By the time Grade 9 was over I had a large social group of girlfriends and other than never being invited to their homes, I was content. They came to my house for sleepovers and fun, but only once from Grade 9 to 13 was I invited to one of their homes. That's another blog post though.

All in all by the time Grade 9 ended I was pretty happy. I had friends. I was never teased or bullied even though I fit the criteria for being a victim. Grade 10 continued with me gradually coming out of my shell and making even more friends. I wanted to participate in extra-curricular activities but my mother arranged for me to work at our local library every day after school so I was out of luck.

I did however manage to join and stay in the band and in choir even though I had to miss many practices. I've often wondered if the band leader and choirmaster felt sorry for me and didn't have the heart to boot me out. They were pretty decent and understanding about my not making practice unless it was on a night when I didn't have to work. In an odd twist of luck I was actually chosen to be in a triple trio (anyone else remember those??) that won all kinds of competitions so I got to travel all around Ontario singing in those various events. Lucky me to be in with a group of 8 other talented singers (from the new area of course) who could cover for my inadequacies!

And so a few of us from the old area did mingle to a degree with kids from the new area. I'm still not sure what the criteria was for being included because not many of us were. And I'm not sure we ever really felt like we were completely accepted. But I was overjoyed to have new friends and we had some great times getting together at my house. We were always having sleepovers at my place and getting into all kinds of new adventures. Sometimes the other mothers weren't very pleased at what they considered my mother's lack of supervision but boy we had fun!

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