The Penny Journal
We were 16 years old - a group of close-knit high school kids who spent all of our time together and thought we'd always be friends. There was usually some kind of drama happening in our little crowd, but somehow things always worked out and we stayed friends.
That summer was my first summer with a Real Boyfriend, a guy named Nick, who was a student at St. Charles College in Sudbury (which used to be an all-boys Catholic school until we started in grade 9 - but still had strong connections to our all-girls Catholic school, so we were always meeting guys from "SCC"). During a band trip to Calgary, my friend Laura introduced me to Nick and Steve, two musically-inclined boys whom she'd met during the high school production of "Footloose" the previous year.
It took a long time before Nick and I actually became an "official" couple because he had to "ask me out" before I could call him my boyfriend. (I wonder if that rule still exists now - or if teenagers are using the term "hooking up" instead of "asking out"...) After spending tons of time together in Calgary, Laura and I kept in touch with Nick & Steve when we returned home, and as we introduced one another to our friends, a group formed that would stay together for the duration of high school. Myself, Kim, Laura, Brandy, Steve, Nick, Mike, and Ryan - we went on band trips, road trips to concerts, spent hours and hours on the phone, hung out at each other's houses, skipped class together (sorry Mom!), went to dances and formals together - we grew up together. We even performed this song in the town square in Philadelphia... (although I should add that it was a completely spontaneous show)
So back to 1995...
That summer there was a lot of drama happening - much of which was recorded in the Penny Journal - which was just a red notebook that I had been using as a diary and had one day covered in pennies (likely out of boredom). Our group of friends was pretty close-knit at that time, so I had no problem sharing my journal with them - to the point that it grew into a community diary that we all wrote in.
Since it's not really mine alone to share, I'll spare the details of what we wrote.
Back then, my camp was the place I spent most of my time. I was getting older and really beginning to appreciate having the lake at the bottom of the stairs. A few times we got into the liquor cabinet (thinking we were so badass having 1 drink of cookies & cream liqueur) which of course resulted in some of the more humorous entries (and more song lyrics because when you're 16 and drinking, "this song is EXACTLY how I'm feeling right now!" is a pretty common phrase).
The Penny Journal was a place for us to write notes to each other, to vent, and laugh over, and it became a symbol of that summer (for me anyway), That was when I discovered Manitoulin Island, went on my first date, spent 13 hours on one phone call, and promised myself that my friends would always be in my life.
It's been 10 years since our last year of high school - 10 years since we were in grade 13, planning our graduation and dreaming about university and the unknown future. On a ride to check out Wilfred Laurier University with my friend Brandy, I remember her father giving us a big speech about how our friends would probably lose touch by the time our freshman year was over. He told us that high school friends don't stay close over the years and that we might as well accept the fact that soon we'd all be going our seperate ways. Brandy and I were furious that he'd popped our little safe bubble - our assumption that we'd always be friends. She tearfully argued with him that as long as we tried to call and write to each other, and visit during holidays, that we'd stay close...
Of course, her dad was right. By Christmas of my freshman year, I barely spoke to most of my graduating class, and even the girls who were from my high school branched out and made other friends when classes started that fall.
As for us? The group of 8 who swore we'd always be friends?
I was the Maid of Honour at Kim & Steve's wedding, proudly (and tearfully) standing beside them as they made their vows, smiling as Laura sang to them during the ceremony, and sharing a drink with Nick (a groomsman), Mike, and Ryan at the reception.
Some of us talk very rarely, some of us talk all the time.
We don't share a journal anymore, but some of us are blogging (some more regularly than others!). And I know that on my wedding day I will be able to say "some of the people here today have been a part of my life since high school" - and that a couple of them will even be standing there next to me...
"Oh my god! Mary?! I haven't seen you since high school!"
"Sharon! oh wow! Hi!"
I looked at the lady my mom was talking to, and the girl who stood partly behind her, giving me the same shy "uh... hi" look I had on my face. Turns out my mom had gone to high school with this Sharon lady and they had lost touch since graduation.
"This is my daughter, Melinda. She's starting grade 9 next week".
"This is Kim - she's also starting grade 9."
They looked at us grinning - "you two should look for each other when you start classes!"
As we walked out of the school with my new uniform in a bag, my mom turned to me and said" I always liked Sharon. She was such a nice girl. And who knows honey? You and Kim might end up being really good friends..."