I went to private school for six years, and I have to tell you, it was like being in prison. Not that I'm overly familiar with the penitential life, but it was very stultifying. When, in the summer between my sophmore and junior years of high school, my parents divorced and private school was no longer anything we could afford, I secretly rejoiced.
At Shoebox School, I had 22 people in what would have been my senior class. I was told what classes I would be taking, including electives. When I was asked what language I had an interest in, I said I'd like to take German, as that's my family heritage. Imagine my surprise when my schedule for classes turned up with French as my "chosen" language. Had I continued my education there, I would have had to undergo "Moral Guidance" and been forced to take religion classes in a faith I did not belong to, nor would have chosen for myself. So, when private school was no longer an option, I did a little booty shake of gratitude and hied my big ole booty over to Gigantic High School posthaste.
Gigantic High was nothing like I had ever experienced before. There were so many people -- and the choices I was allowed to make for myself! I got to pick when to have lunch, electives, and even to participate in a work-training program! At Gigantic High, there were more than 200 people in my graduating class. I was learning with other ethnicities (shock upon shock!) and even no longer felt like one of the school oddball/outcasts.
I was afraid with so many people that I would not make friends easily. It had been a core set of us "weirdos" at Shoebox School, and we had gotten to be pretty tight. What if I wasn't able to find that here at Gigantic High? What if these kids were just at snotty and cliquish as those at Shoebox? It didn't seem humanly possible that there was enough of the snot-factor left over for other kids, but it could happen, right?
In one of my first few classes, I met LittleBit. LittleBit was a year younger than I, but we'd gotten stuck in the same Algebra class since I was dyscalculic, and we hit it off immediately. LittleBit quickly became my partner in crime. We went everywhere together. She was quiet where I am loud. She was reserved when I am gregarious. She was very straight-laced where I was often way more trouble. She was pretty and petite, where I am huge and homely. We were like Peanut Butter and Jelly for two years, until the year I graduated from high school. She was gearing up for her Senior year when her father lowered the boom. He was a military man, and had gotten transferred to Germany. LittleBit was devestated. Not only would she have to leave her home and her friends, but she would also have to do it for her Senior year of high school. We both begged for her to be allowed to finish out the year, but it was a no go. Her father put his foot down, and away LittleBit went.
We corresponded like mad -- letters and phone calls flew across the ocean. LittleBit neared the end of her Senior year, and invited me to her graduation. I thought it was all a formality, since I knew I wouldn't be able to go, but my parents surprised me by saying that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and they'd pay for me to go over. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I called LittleBit with the news. We both did the Happy Dance, and I started packing.
I ended up spending a little more than 3 weeks in Germany with LittleBit. We went to so many great places and did so many great things: We went to the Gutenberg Bible Museum; we went to Little Oktoberfest in Munich; we went to Castle Neuschwanstein; we rode the train most of the way across Germany. I learned so much; I felt so deeply immersed in history. I didn't want to ever come home, but my harridan mother screamed at me to get my behind on the plane.
I have always looked back fondly on that time together. We grew apart after a few years -- we both met our future husbands, and drifted away from each other, but these memories remain frozen in my mind. I still can see the summer skyline from the windows in Castle Neuschwanstein, and the Glockenspiel in Munich in my mind's eye. I can remember the joy on seeing my best friend again. I miss her. I miss the closeness that we once shared. I hope she is happy, where ever she might be, and that she's well and healthy. I hope to track her down one day.