I guess the next adventure would have to be this one. I can’t think of anything happening in between. This adventure is a big one, although now that I think about it, it’s actually quite small.
We had our usual morning: math class, “homeroom,” English class, and choir, of course. After choir, I was at my locker to get my books for my next class. In 8th grade, my locker was down on the first floor, right across from the auditorium entrance. Just as I was about to close my locker, Karl comes up from behind me and says in my ear, “Meet me after school.” And he walks away.
I look after him surprised. Then, I yell after him, “WHAT IS IT?”
"Just meet me after school!"
"Why? I’m scared!"
He left me to my own devices after that. I guess he had to get to class. I couldn’t have known exactly what he wanted, but I had a hunch… and a small hope.
Seeing my friend in the hallway, I quickly ran up to Aimee and informed her of what had just happened. “Karl just asked me to meet him after school.”
"Oh, God. He’s going to ask you out."
"Noooo! Aimee, I’m scared!"
But she just shook her head at me and walked off to class.
Between that time and 6th period, I had forgotten all about that brief encounter. But I had science class with Karl, and it all came back to me. I must have had butterflies in my stomach, and I probably spent the entire class thinking about what Karl could possibly want. I obsess a lot, sometimes. It could be my slight OCD.
But then, after that class, I forgot again, until it was after school and I was chatting with my usual buds before heading to the library. Out of thin air (dramatization), Karl appears. And I remember he had that yellow and white windbreaker that he always wore. He asked me, “Where are you going?”
I told him, “The library, of course. I always go to the library after school.” So he walked with us to the library. “Us,” though, only comprised of me and my friend, Jane, whom I’ve been friends with since first grade.
He walked with us all the way to the library (which is not very far because my hometown is so damn tiny) and he stopped me at the memorial built in front. Of course, Jane gave us our space, but she only gave us a few meter’s space, seating herself on one of the benches nearby.
Karl comes in close and he says, “I was wondering if you’d go out with me.”
Taking it in for a couple of seconds, I reply, “Excuse me for just one second.” I turned, took a couple of steps out and screamed, “AIMEE, YOU BASTARD!” Then I turned back around and came back to Karl. Jane, who knew exactly what was going on, laughed with an extremely audible, “Oh my God!”
Poor Karl. Now that I look back at it, it seemed like he was a little embarrassed. But he smiles at me and says, “I assure you, Aimee had nothing to do with this.”
I smile at him, trying to decide quickly. I still liked him. My feelings for him hadn’t really changed over the summer. But I was such a stubborn, independent character. There was no way I would ever submit to this kind of thing. I shake my head. “I’m sorry, Karl but, no. Maybe if you had asked me last year? I don’t know.” And I just shrug. He just nods and says, “Okay.” And he walks off while Jane and I go into library.
I remember that day was a Friday.
I am on vacation with my family and, unfortunately, they do not have wi-fi in the guest rooms. Mind you, I’m on vacation with the family that kept me inside for the past years of my life, so I couldn’t be less thrilled. My dad is always complaining about paying money while not paying money and my mom is always yelling at my dad. It doesn’t make for good vacations. Plus, the people that consist of my family are the most boring people I know. I don’t enjoy going on vacation. I just prefer to make life as much of a vacation as possible so that I never ever need to go on vacation.
Anyway, I believe I had made it to eighth grade in my adventures? Eighth grade was wonderful. It was just like seventh grade, except you’ve already gotten used to everything already. And that was a shame because middle school is only seventh and eighth grade. Once, you’ve gotten into the swing of things, you have to switch gears all over again.
Well, it was probably late fall and the madrigals had just finished an after school rehearsal. So it must have been a Tuesday if I can remember correctly. I had the same arrangement with my parents as the year before so they believed that I would be at the library right after rehearsal.
I liked to take adventures whenever I had the opportunity. And I do admit that I pretty much take every opportunity I find. I see a lot of fun in eluding my parents and their rules.
Well, I don’t remember how, but I found myself walking down the street to Starbucks with Karl after rehearsal that day.
The middle school and the high school are located on the main street of the town. The main street is legitimately the main street. Basically everything that is in this town is on this street. So there was a Starbucks down the street from the middle school some 4 blocks or so. And that’s where Karl and I were headed that afternoon.
So we started walking together. Down the first block, I got a call from my parents asking if rehearsal was over. Of course, I reminded my parents that I would be going to “study” at the library. But Karl, being Karl, started saying very loudly, “Naomi! Put the marijuana down! Naomi! You’ve already had enough to drink!” Desperately, I tried to shush Karl but my mother had already heard the ruckus.
"Where are you?" she asked me suspiciously.
"I’m at the library!" I defended.
"Why is it so noisy there?"
"It doesn’t always have to be quiet at the library…"
I still don’t feel like she entirely bought it, but she let it go. I was quite relieved. Once the call ended, I did not even hesitate to send a punch Karl’s way. But not too hard. It was a funny joke. And I was having fun.
Two blocks down and we are in front of the town supermarket. But we come across a dead bird right smack in the middle of the sidewalk. The poor thing was lying on its back with its feet up, beak half open. We’re both staring at this bird when Karl decides to grab a stick and poke at it. Finally, using the stick, he shoves it into the street. At that moment, a truck comes rolling by and we hear this awful “crunch” as the truck squashes the bird corpse flat. Karl and I walk away laughing like hell.
We finally make it to Starbucks and we go inside. I had never intended to buy anything, though. I was frugal with money. I still am. I am the budgeting queen.
Karl turned to me and said, “If I buy a black and white cookie, will you split it with me?”
I don’t remember what I said. I think I refused. I usually do.
There’s a park bench outside in front of Starbucks and after he bought the cookie we went out and sat down on it. He offered me the cookie.
"Which side do you want?"
"Which side do you want?"
He broke the cookie in half and gave me the white side and we sat there and we talked eating our cookie halves. I didn’t finish mine. I eat too slowly. I don’t remember what we talked about. Probably choir and school. Things like that. But all I remember is eating that cookie. And being thirsty as hell because the cookie was really sweet.
Finally, we got up from the park bench. I really did have to get to the library and Karl had to go home. So we had to go separate ways. We said good-bye and he turned and left. I didn’t know if he had a girlfriend at all. I didn’t know if he liked anyone or had any potential targets next on his list. I just knew that here was an opportunity to jump on him. Literally. I jumped on him. Silly, little violent me.
But he laughed, hugged me good-bye, and we left it at that.
Now that I think about it, there weren’t too many adventures with Karl in seventh grade. No, Karl was too busy being a whore. I was too busy being violent. We didn’t see each other too much during the summer. I didn’t see much of anyone during the summer. But the school year ahead was definitely a significant one in my life.
Eighth grade was not that much different when you think about it. I was still a little aggressive. At least I didn’t beat anyone up anymore. Sometimes, a year in a new place can change you. It can make you braver, surer, a better person. I feel like, even though I was only in middle school, by the time I got to eighth grade, I was a more mature person. Even if just by a little bit. We all make some progress. Life is too much to not make any progress at all.
I was excited for eighth grade. Seventh grade had gone so well, why shouldn’t this year be successful? It was pretty much the same thing as the year before: honors classes, crush on the hot guy, choir, madrigals, and all. I even still liked Karl.
Incidentally, when I had practically no classes with Karl at all the year before, I did end up seeing him a lot in eighth grade. We had math, english, choir, and science together. Maybe we even had gym together (but I don’t remember that).
Technically, we didn’t have the same math class but it’s a little complicated. In my town, all the sixth graders take a pre-algebra test and if they pass they have the option to take Algebra I in seventh grade when a regular student would be taking that class his or her freshman year of high school. Pre-algebra was a snooze for me but I was lucky to get through Algebra I. The next step was Geometry but they didn’t offer that class in the middle school. So there was a small group of us that had to show up at the high school every morning and then walk across the street back to the middle school. You’d think it was annoying, but it was actually a little nice because the high school schedule didn’t align with the middle school’s. By the time our first period ended in the high school, first period in the middle school was still ongoing. So after class, our little group would hang out at one of the computer rooms with full access to the computers. But our group consisted of two different classes: Accelerated Geometry and Plane Geometry.
Since I didn’t do so well in Algebra I (definitely not my forte), I got placed in Plane Geometry with another girl named Stephanie and Shane (hot guy). I was basically put in a class full of high school sophomores with a teacher who didn’t give a crap. It’s kind of funny, but I was the smartest kid in that class. I remember we were taking a test and, right in front of the teacher, the guys in front and next to me deliberately looked over at my test. At one point, one of them just took my paper and copied the answers. The teacher didn’t even look up. I got a perfect score on that test. So did the guys sitting around me.
Anyway, I was in that class, but Karl was in Accelerated Geometry. That didn’t mean I didn’t see him, though. Of course we saw each other after class but sometimes we would both check our middle lockers first and then head over to the high school. So there was always a small group making that trek across the street.
After math, Karl and I both had English together. We had this insane English teacher who, though she taught the smart class, knew that the Board of Education just dumped her in with the middle schoolers. Still, she was crazy and she absolutely loved my writing. I was a little bit of a teacher’s pet. Plus, the whole performing off-broadway thing didn’t help. I don’t mean to brag but, ok, I admit that I am gloating. It’s just that, when you’re a theatre kid, you just love the spotlight. Poor Karl never really got much attention in that class. But, to be honest, I don’t think he cared.
Then, third period was choir. Gosh, my whole morning consisted of Karl! But, then again, choir consisted of at least 80 kids, so it wasn’t too much Karl. When madrigals started again, we rehearsed in the mornings like we always did. But Karl, Stephanie, Shane and I (yes, we were all in madrigals) always had to leave early for math class. Our music director was never happy about it, but it’s not like we had a choice right?
Karl and I didn’t have class again until science in the second half of the day. Our teacher was this tall, lanky, totally kooky, rumored-to-be-pedophilic guy with an obsession with peppers. My friend Aimee and I made fun of him a lot in our day (him and our vice principal). Yeah, there were a lot of weird moments in that class.
Aside from Karl, there was a lot going on that year. The school was being renovated and half-way through the year we all had to suffer through lack of heat, air-conditioning, classes moving to different locations, more dust than usual, tarp, whatever. Of course, they had to finish the renovations AFTER my class left the school. And with the new renovations came a new name for the school as well. My class was the last to “graduate” with the old name.
Plus, I had a new crush, too. His name was Matt and I remember just being obsessed with him. The guys in my life that year were Shane, Karl, and Matt (and Johnny Depp). But that crush on Matt died quickly. He was an interesting kid, though, so it was fun to just watch him do stupid things. But Karl seemed to have lasted that whole time.
Looking back at it, seventh grade had a lot of adventures. There were so many new people even aside from Karl. And there was a lot more freedom especially for me. All my young life, I never really stepped out of the house. I always secretly hated summer because I never saw any of my friends, my family never went on vacation, I sat at home watching TV all day. Sometimes I would sit by the window and watch the other kids ride their bikes down the street. I remember there was one year where I waited every day for the sound of the ice cream truck just so I could watch it drive away. It was pretty lonely.
Even now that I’m older, that concept of hanging out with friends every day is quite foreign to me. I know nothing more than sitting around by myself, watching TV and doing little things. I don’t have a car or money and I live in a small suburban town. Life is not very exciting for me.
But once I got into middle school I did start hanging out with people more. One of the most wonderful things about middle school was that I had a small window of freedom every day. I still had younger siblings that went to elementary school and they got out later than the middle school. So I made a deal with my parents that they would pick me up last. Every day after school I walked with my friends to the library and we hung out there. It seems kind of lame: to hang out at the library. But it was a lot of fun. Whenever the weather was nice, we hung around outside, goofing off. A lot of times we got yelled at for loitering and blocking entrances. We always took a detour to the corner pharmacy to buy candy. And even when the weather was cold or wet and we had to stay inside, it was all fun being with other people. Sometimes, I would wait for my dad to pick me up from the library on his way home from work. So there were times when I stayed at the library until six in the evening sitting with other people doing homework (or not).
But once school ended, there was no excuse to hang out at the library anymore. Still, this summer was different. Very slowly, I was gathering the courage to go out or walk some place on my own. Of course, I was harassed to no end by my parents, “Where are you going?” “Is someone picking you up?” “Who is going to be there?” “BE CAREFUL!” Okay, I get it. I’m not going to do anything stupid (I was too afraid of doing something stupid to do something stupid).
So it was the fourth of July and my town always held their own fireworks at the football field in the middle of town. It was a good time. There was music, food, and games for the little kids. Once it got dark, you could sit on the bleachers or sit on the field and watch the fireworks. What better excuse to hang out?
So I went by myself, not knowing who was going to be there or who I might meet. I winged it. I did catch up with a couple of friends there though. One of them was Karl and his girlfriend.
Now in my last adventure with Karl, I said that he was going out with this girl named Aubrey. Well, by the time July came around, Aubrey was not his girlfriend. Actually, she was the farthest thing from Karl’s girlfriend by then.
The thing I learned about Karl as seventh grade came and went was that Karl was a whore. Yes, they do exist in middle school. Karl is living proof. Well, he wasn’t a full out whore (I don’t think). At least, in middle school, he was a girlfriend whore. He probably had at least five girlfriends (that I know of) that school year. And there’s no telling how many more he had that summer. But in July, Karl’s girlfriend was my friend, Irene.
I knew Irene from my Social Studies class that year. She was a constant target of the teacher’s jokes but she was a bit a whiner. She was also in band; she played the clarinet. I can imagine that’s how she knew Karl.
So fourth of July and we’re all hanging out. We were just walking around the area, just whatever, talking about nothing. I remember that was the day I found out that Karl was an atheist.
I don’t remember how I felt about Karl and his girlfriend. By then, I was well aware that I had this crush on him, but every time I saw him and Irene kiss, I couldn’t help feeling a bit disgusted. Then again, I was definitely not a fan of PDA (Public Displays of Affection) so it might have been that.
I think at some point, I ditched that group and ended up watching the fireworks with other people down on the football field. I had no idea what would happen exactly a year from that day though…
So middle school was going great. It was so much more fun than elementary school and so much more interesting. I had a favorite class: Honors Social Studies with Mr. Stoffers who gave the students nicknames, made fun of all of us, and showed us The Patriot in class. I had a crush on the hottest guy in school, Shane. He was so cool. And so cute. And smart. And funny. And cute. Ahh…. We had choir and lunch and Algebra together. It was almost too much. Oh, and speaking Algebra I, I was barely passing that class. Not one of my finer moments. The important thing is that I survived through it.
Plus, I had a Karl to entertain myself. I pretty much bothered Karl all through the year. There was one time he retaliated. I remember wouldn’t stop punching him in the side so he did that twisty thing and held my arms behind my back while he used his other arm to open his locker. I struggled really hard to get out of it, but it’s a really awkward position to be in. Limited movement.
The Madrigals were all really close though. I had two really good friends from that choir that year. The first was Alexa. In concert choir, I was a soprano, but when I auditioned for Madrigals, I had a cold. So, of course my register would be 3 keys lower and of course I would be cast as an alto. But I was placed next to Alexa, who was also an alto, in the front row. We used to always have this inside joke that the world was “DOOOOOOMED!” On my other side stood this girl named Aubrey, a soprano. Together, we formed a front row trio of friends (insert smiley face here).
One day in the Madrigal hallway, something happened that made me realize something else. I remember it was dark in the hallway that time. Actually, it was always dark. There were no windows and the middle school was a pretty dingy place before it was renovated. Anyway, I was at my locker getting my things and it must have been either before school or after school because everybody was at their locker. I think it should’ve been after school because we hung out there for a while. Well, I overheard Karl and some of the other madrigals talking. They were talking about how Karl was now going out with Aubrey. Apparently he had asked her out and she said yes. Interesting. And I actually felt something. I was feeling kind of jealous. Even more interesting. That meant that I liked Karl. I LIKED liked Karl. Gross.
Karl wasn’t the first guy I ever liked but he did introduce the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing to my life. It’s the start of an adventure.
See, I’m the worst breed of human. Let me explain. Some people are dead inside. They go through life knowing this, and they manage fine enough, because, well, they’re dead inside. They aren’t bitter because they don’t care enough to change. They just try to get by with the things they can control. Others live in the fucking clouds, watch romantic comedies, and dream about everything being perfect one day. These people are always fine because they have an everlasting well of hope inside them, and no matter what happens they’ll just romanticize their existence.
But when it comes to me…I’m someone who’s mostly dead inside but still has a little hope for something extraordinary, which, as I said, is the worst breed of human, because it means that I know everything is bullshit, but that I secretly hope for the day when it might not be. The tension makes me wish I were just completely dead inside. It would makes things much easier for me.
Isn’t It Pretty To Think So? by Nick Miller (via settyourselfonfire)
It’s 4 in the morning. I don’t even know why I’m awake. I’m just troubled I guess.