Dear me at 14:
You will remember all the mistakes of your youth with a cringing sense of horror and embarrassment as time marches relentlessly on. The few things you did right will become beacons in the dark and the only thing that saves you, in the lurid and unforgiving light of reflection, is the knowledge that mistakes are a part of growing up.
The eighties will arive with a crash and a bang and you will be catapulted into J.H.S. A milestone which will delight and terrify you as you thought you would never make new friends. You were wrong. There you will learn untold lessons and discover nine girls, one by one, who will become The Angels.
You will never forget The Angels’ obsession with all things adult: boys, sex, drugs and your first, halting steps into womanhood. It will be a time of first kisses, make-out sessions, first loves and shades of heartaches on the road to becoming.
You will preen in the Yard after school, congregate, flirt and gyrate. You will always remember the goofy wonder that you all felt at halting any sports activity, if only momentarily, with whatever crazy antics you psyched each other in to doing.
You will come to understand that it was your first taste of the power that women wield over men. Stop!!! You don’t have to be so blatant and throw caution to the winds. But driven by hormones you will remain blissfully unaware.
You will delight at teetering on the edge of adulthood, sharing Judy Blume and gorging on pizza. You will share clothes and makeup, pass notes in class, giggle in the bathroom and spend untold minutes putting on Starlight Magic makeup. It will be wasted time trying to make yourselves gorgeous, as if you already aren’t. Self-love is a skill that will take you at least another ten years to master.
No other decade will ever be as memorable as the 80’s to you. You will discover Rock and fall in love with AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Rush, The Police, Van Halen (OMG David Lee Roth), Phil Collins, the B-52’s and Rap before it became Hip-Hop. It will forever be tight shirts, ripped jeans, rock t-shirts, Izod Lacoste, Le Tigre, Kangols, Name Belts, Gold Jewelry, Lee Jeans, Nikes, Adidas and the inevitable jean jacket (collar turned up, of course). It will also be the period you recall fondly as “the time before the D cup.”
You will be transfixed with laughter at the recollection of your first experience with alcohol. Drunken headiness all mixed up with snow, idiocy, freedom and cold. You will guzzle Blackberry Brandy, of all things, make angels in the snow and roll down the hill in Central Park. Nothing will douse your sense of glee except the sight of Dawn’s vomit and her parent’s disapproving faces when you bring her home. Hmm, maybe getting completely shit-faced isn’t as good as you thought it would be.
You will meet your second mother, Heather. She will open her heart, her home and her shoulder to you. You will never forget the hours spent in her kitchen eating every kind of cheese known to man, hanging with Liana and Sharon, listening to classical music, ogling her incredible collection of books and devouring Oodles of Noodles. She will hold pride of place in your heart for seeing past your skin color, rejecting socio-economic stereotypes and recognizing your spirit, heart and fledgling intellect. Not until you are much older will you know how unique that is.
All those wasted hours whining and moaning about your dysfunctional families, unified in your hatred of adults. Only years later, as you lose them, one by one, will you be haunted by this lack of understanding. Finally, as grown-ups, you will understand that love for our children is the greatest of all loves and “get” just where your parents were coming from.
It is these girls that will listen to you with utter fascination and stand up for you. These girls, turned women, that you will fight for, and with, through the years against boyfriends, husbands and life. They will teach you loyalty and compassion, laugh with you at the ridiculous, cry with you at the heartbreaking and even run away with you when it is all too much to bear. Most importantly, the Angels will teach you about the enduring nature of friendship, love and connection. They will become the women whose faces you will look into thirty-some years later and recognize that, only this, your friendship, has remained untarnished and true.
Lisa Rivera is an aspiring novelist and avid lover of poetry, erotica and fiction. You may view more of her work on her blog, Thirsty for the Marvelous, at http://cocorivers.wordpress.com/