It was the end of summer 1992 and an unfortunately skinny girl who, after a long stretch of possessing a sparse wardrobe of white button-up shirts and navy blue plaid, was walking in her knock-off Girbauds, all alone, to the first class of her first day of public school. A class where she knew no one.
All of her friends who had also transferred to Mont Harmon Junior High from the local Catholic school, in a cruel joke by the pubescent social gods, got to live through their first class of the day together. They would make the transition going from a class of 13-20 students they had been with all their lives to a school of hundreds of strangers together.
The skinny girl with a grown-out perm and a mouthful of braces had to go all by herself. And across the parking lot to an overflow classroom (read: trailer), no less.
Opening the door to the trailer and feeling the gaze of dozens of strangers' eyes--many of which were covered in layers of early 1990's eyeshadow--she glances around, nervously trying to figure out where to sit. Her palms begin to sweat. She looks down at the cheaply carpeted floor.
But just then, halleluja!, the angels started to sing and the heavens put forth light on an adorable blond girl. The blond girl smiled and said the greatest phrase ever known to self-conscious 13-years-olds: "You can sit by me."
The skinny, awkward girl felt a surge of gratitude and quickly sat on the uncomfortable plastic chair. The most wonderful chair in the world!
The junior high angel's name was Jill and the skinny, awkward girl with bad hair was me.
I met Jill that fateful first day of junior high. She was kind and welcoming and was to me, that day, like a huge piece of chocolate cake after months of being on a drab, low-calorie diet. Sweet and just what I needed to instantly feel better.
We became the best of friends and were inseparable throughout junior high and high school. She attended many of my crazy family parties, served as my wardrobe consultant for our frequent social outings, was a good sport always pretending to be shocked at her annual "surprise" birthday parties and I even brought her along on dates when my high school boyfriend was visiting from college. I admit, that one is weird. When Zach and I became engaged, my dad said something like, "And for all these years, I thought you were going to marry Jill."
Her birthday was this weekend and about 15 years later I am still delighted to call her my friend. She has a hilarious sense of humor, is a great mom, incredibly smart and a wonderful friend.
Happy birthday, Jilly Bean!
Enjoy this sampling of photos, most of which are taken during the infamous junior high days.