The summer before senior year was full of shenanigans and making memories with my friends. I was thrilled to escape to the Cayman Islands for two weeks with my bestie and her family. I discovered peace and serenity snorkeling off of the gorgeous Seven Mile Beach. Her family became a true place of solitude for me with their open door and listening hearts. My mom’s health continued to remain a mystery to me. My grandparents still didn’t know. We never once sat down as a family and talked about what was happening or treatment plans. I stopped asking questions that weren’t given answers and I continued to live my life and keep myself very busy.
Living just outside of Chicago, my friends and I would often pile into someone’s parent’s minivan and drive into the city just to drive around. If someone had money, we’d head to the iconic 1950’s themed McDonald’s. A few of us spent more and more time together and one night we all ended up at Blondie’s house. His parents were out of town and the night got later and later, dwindling down to my few friends and an equal number of guys. Did I mention Blondie and his friends had just graduated from high school? We were indeed in the big leagues here. As we loaded the VCR with Friday the 13th I found myself next to who I will call The Stud on the couch. There is nothing better than watching a scary movie shoulder to shoulder with a handsome, older guy. Suddenly The Stud’s arm was around me, pulling me close—just in case I was scared. It was electric and I was thrilled. After night one, the girls slept at my house. With the full focus on my mom’s illness, I didn’t have a curfew, and no one seemed to notice my comings and goings.
We decided to take this run for as long as we could and made a pact to return to Blondie’s house the next night with the sole purpose of having fun. We literally called it The Pact. My friends and I coupled off with this crew every night that week. We’d show up late, when the college bound crew was heading home. I remember horror movies, making out with The Stud, and a sense of camaraderie with these friends of mine. My small crew of friends, along with The Stud and his friends, provided a short time of distraction, fun, and time to perfect my now active kiss.
The guys from The Pact went off to college and it was time for senior year of high school to begin. I had come a long way since freshman year. I prided myself on being friends with kids in practically every group. I secured my spots on the Varsity Drill Team, Student Council, Orchesis Dance Team, and A Capella Choir. I never got an actual acting part, but I was now part of the dance crew in our school musicals. I happily chatted with the burnouts who spent their lunch period smoking on the mall of our school campus. I was still active in Luther League, my church youth group, and renewed friendships that had faded. We took incredible trips and retreats, growing in faith and friendship.
I had an incredible job at a local video rental store, one of the coolest spots to work because it closed at 9:00pm, and that meant I could still go out with friends before the night ended. My best friend and I were planning college visits together and the girls from The Pact were a lifeline to me for sure. Senior year… I was ready for it all.