Dreading Junior High

Luke starts sixth grade in the fall, and he seems fairly cool about it; he's worried about bullying, but I think that's because they are now inundated with classroom discussions and speakers and chatter about bullying--it's as if the administration is bullying the kids about bullying.

I remember dreading middle school--knowing somehow that it was this weird transition into semi-adulthood, where there would be actual teenagers (8th graders) and kids who were jaded and did drugs and maybe had sex. Middle school seemed like the ultimate in total corruption, which was a concept that made my stomach hurt--I just wanted to be left alone to read books about girls wearing hoop skirts and to be able to still get lost in games in my imagination--I didn't want to hear from Tracey Middleton how she made out with a twenty year old janitor at the Billy Squier concert during "Stroke Me."

Getting older meant getting less interesting while at the same time moving further away from believing in those things that were amazing--like unicorns and telekinesis and time travel. I knew that once I got to a certain age, I would lose all of the magic stuff and it would be replaced by mundane distractions, like wanting designer jeans (the whole reason I preferred Jordache jeans to any of the other brands was because the label was a horse and part of me still thought that maybe, just maybe, you might be able to communication telepathically with horses, given enough concentration and faith). I was also seriously worried about becoming a drug addict. My vision of junior high was a bunch of red-eyed mulleted guys in wife beaters and their acid-washed jeans wearing girlfriends hanging out in the parking lot pressuring me to smoke dope. As if we any them would be in a parking lot--none of us drove, for God's sake, and as if pot were the worst thing in the world. But I thought that pot was the gateway to heroin and living under a bridge. 

Why am I thinking about any of this? Maybe because, even as an adult, I'm still scared of those kids--or of this idea that you can lose control of your life and yourself and maybe never get it back (see previous post, see Phillip Seymour Hoffman post, see any Amy Winehouse lyric + is that really her last name?).  I couldn't sleep the other night and I kept thinking about this scene from Saturday by Ian McEwan where the main character spots a girl who he can tell is a recent addict. It's something about the way she's twitching or behaving, and he thinks to himself, Hm...I could save her. I could yank her off the street and give her an antidote to this heroin that would give her a shot at not becoming chemically addicted. But he does nothing, which makes him slightly despicable.

Anyway, none of that happened to me in middle school or in high school or in college either. I stayed a good girl and kept day-dreaming and it did happen that I stopped believing in ESP and finding a secret panel in the back of my closet that would take me into a mythological world. And I grew up and started worrying about car insurance. I miss it, and though I can get back to some of it in writing fiction, it's not the same.