A New Friend

By 8th grade I had a very narrow pool of friends.   It was a two way street there, certainly.  I suppose if I’d been more gregarious I could have had a larger circle, but my insecurity kept it tight.  I didn’t want to share a lot about what was going on at home, because it made me feel so very different from everyone at school.  I wanted to be the same.  I wanted to blend in.  I wanted to fit.

Dawn lived close by and we were easy friends with lots of very odd things in common.  What we didn’t have in common was the bulk of our school day.  I lived four out of six periods of my day in a small area of the school where the gifted classes were held.  These were split classes between two grade levels.  When I was younger, the splits were with older kids.  Now that I was older, the split went with kids a year younger than me.  That’s how I met Andrea.

Andrea and I got along from the start.  A year younger than me, she was also in the band and our interests dovetailed often enough to start a friendship.   Her family lived a little distance away from us though, but her father was a teacher and often available after school to pick me up to come visit.  Looking back on it now, her parents must have sensed a need on my part to not be at home very much; I started spending a lot of dinners and overnights at Andrea’s house, but she never did the same at mine.

It was at Andrea’s that I first discovered the VCR.

Andrea’s parents had bought one of the first video tape recorders.  I was in awe of how you could tape something off of television and replay it to watch WHENEVER YOU WANTED, just like a tape cassette and the radio.  I couldn’t imagine how rich they’d have to be to buy one.  I knew such technology was expensive.  We’d just bought our first microwave oven; a magic box that cooked food in a third to a tenth of the time it would be done on the stove.  We all just stood around and watched things in box the size of a small TV.

Andrea’s VCR was a Betamax VCR.  I didn’t know at the time that there were two video formats competing for market dominance.  I loved going over to her house and watching “videos” on the VCR.   What a heady combination cable tv, with its constant stream of movies, and a VCR would be; you could watch movies at home whenever you wanted.  The idea seemed like…it could change the world.

With Andrea and Dawn, I felt an increased sense of self esteem.  I had two very close friends whom I could call upon when my own world just seemed too wacky.   Neither one of them were friends, and we never hung out all together.  Each filled very different holes in my life, in different ways.   But they both were there for me, and I was grateful.


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