Monday, September 10, 2012

New kid on the block

Moving from California to London and then from London to Switzerland over the past three years has felt an awful lot like all the moving around I did as a kid.  Between 1978 and 1988 I changed schools at least 7 times.  Leaving school also meant leaving behind school friends.  These were kids that I played with after school, whose parents were nice to me and let me eat their Oreo cookies and play Atari well into the afternoon until my mom came home from work.

When I was 10 years old, I lived for about six months in a place called Livermore for half of my 5th grade year.  We lived in a cul-de-sac filled with families.  There was one girl my age, Chelon, whom I used to play with regularly.  Chelon lived close to the opening of the cul-de-sac next to the Mormon family.  The Mormon mom used to joke about being a 'bad Mormon' family because they drank Coke and coffee.   Chelon's parents, Geri and Gerry, drove a Camero.  I want to say that the car was yellow, but I really don't remember.  I do remember, however, that they had a vanity plate that, somehow, spelled out both of their names.  Maybe it was 'GeriGer'.  Anyway, they had the same name, shared the same car, and wore their hair in the same style: a jheri curl.  I loved going over to Chelon's house because her parents were very friendly, there was always music playing on the stereo, and, after Chelon did her chores, we could play undisturbed outside in the cul-de-sac for hours until we were called home for dinner.

Michael Jackson wearing a Jheri curl.

Esther, a girl from my class who lived over in the 'nice part' of town, became chummy with me and would sometimes invite me over to her house after school.  Like Esther, I took my shoes off before going inside.  I can't exactly remember what we did, but I don't think that Esther was all that into Barbie and neither was I.  She lived in a lovely, ranch-style home with wide hallways and both a rock garden and swimming pool in the backyard.  The hallway carpets were thick and plush and felt good under my stocking feet.  The house was quiet and smelled of cooked rice.  And, while I would occasionally hear her mother's voice, I never really saw either of Esther's parents.

-prime example of a ranch-style home.

My friendships with both Esther and Chelon were really just beginning when I had to move at the end of the school year.  Chelon came for a sleep-over once after I moved.  I never talked to Esther again.

Here I am again, the 'new kid' at 42.  It was so easy to make friends when I was 10.  How do I meet folk now?  One thing is for sure, I will never meet folk like Chelon's parents or be invited over to a house like Esther's ever again.

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