Back when I was 13 years old my mom and grandmother made the decision that the inner city was no longer a good place to bring up a kid, especially a young teenager. They wanted to get out of living on a street and move from Lawrence, a city of about 70,000 to the next town over Methuen and town of about 30,000. Part of the motivation behind this was the fact my mom didn't want me going to Lawrence High School. There were no worries on my part, I had no intention on attending that school as I was in process of taking entrance exams to our regional vocational school. Back in that day you needed to be of a certain skill set to attend the "Voke' as we so loving call it. Not that we needed to be any more intelligent. In fact to this day we all joke that we are vokies so not much can be expected of us. Anytime we say or do something stupid it's very easy to blame it on being a vokie. People who went to regular high schools often view people at the Voke as people who couldn't make it in college. The reality was that because your weeks were split between academics and shop studies we had to work twice as hard. We still had to meet state requirements with 1/2 the class time to do it in.
We actually moved from Lawrence to Methuen in April of 1978 leaving me with only a month or so to complete the 8th grade at the Oliver in Lawrence so I could go onto high school. This would mean walking from Methuen to the school in downtown Lawrence, a 2-3 mile walk. In those days we actually felt safe enough to let kids of that age go that distance on their own ..LOL. Back then it wasn't without its fears. Walking through areas that I was used too was a little scary but none the less it was only for a short time.
The home my mom purchased in Methuen was a townhouse that was in a complex of 4 buildings, each build holding 4 units. Out of the 16 units only 1 of them had any kids my age, as it would turn out the boy "J" would have a lot of similar interests as me and we would eventually become good friends. Just down the street was an entire neighborhood of duplexes that held a plethora of children of every age imaginable. My days living in the area would turn out yielding some really good friendships.
"J" was a good kid and seemed to be fairly intelligent. We were both into Heavy Metal music and specifically both heavily into the band Kiss. In fact one Halloween J, his little sister Cher and I all went out dressed as members of Kiss for Halloween. Something I had long forgotten until I was reminded of it recently. J's little sister Cher was about 2 years younger than we were so when I first moved in I hadn't paid her much mind other than her being my friends pain in the butt little sister (Not my words, J's words LOL). Over the course of the next several years of hanging out with J and Cher we all got older, grew and tastes would change. Something I had never expected was a sudden attraction between Cher and myself and it was something that just kind of happened.
I spent the better part of a year being enamored by the cute little brunette who would play chicken with me (Inside joke) but then when I was more set in high school things just seemed to change. To this day I've never forgotten my first girlfriend and most of all I still hold some fond memories of her. I also remember a few of the more painful ones and readily admit that in not dealing with my GID there were times I'd done or said things that I'm not proud of. In fact after bumping into her about 10 years ago I even apologized for the way I treated her back then, I've never totally forgotten that. I tended to be a bit of a womanizer in my earlier days in an attempt to prove my manhood and hide my GID.
Recently while searching my old high school on facebook I came across "Cher's" profile. I sat back in my seat wondering if it would be wise to friend request her. Being friends with her and then her being my first girlfriend certainly played against each other to some degree. I had to ask my friend Kristi how she would feel if she suddenly found out that an ex boyfriend was now an ex girlfriend and then I went out on a limb and sent the message hoping for the best. "Cher" recognized me almost right away and answered me which was awesome and over the last week we have had the chance to talk quite a bit of old times as well as current events in our lives. I was very happy to hear she was in a good place and she seems happy. I'm more thrilled that I have another old friend who is very accepting of my changes. I'm not sure how shocking it was to her but she was very gracious about it. I'm not totally sure what it must be like for her having a friendship with someone who is familiar but different at the same time, but to say she has been anything short of open and accepting is an under statement. In fact, it's really nice having another person that I share a past with say, it doesn't matter; I like you for you!
About 10 years ago I had the pleasure of spending some time with "J". Turned out after I moved away he decided to pick up the guitar. I only wish he had decided to do that when he was younger and could have been more involved with some of the band stuff I was doing. It might have steered his life into a better path than the one he had chosen. If anything, he seemed to be doing well and spent a few days jamming with me and trying to learn a few things that I could share with him. Cher said he is doing well, still playing after all this time. I hope that when he hears about his friend that he'll be open to it but if not I can't change how he feels. It would be nice to see him again and maybe play a bit. If anything I'm just happy he's doing well …
Anyway, if you're reading this Cher thank you for not only being accepting, but doing so in a new way that makes me feel like I have a new/old friendship again ..you're awesome!