By Adria Winfield
You had the habit of bullying those around you into doing your bidding, into following you to one (mis)adventure after another: dropping LSD at an AC /DC sleepout, riding in speeding cars driven by men several years older, encouraging me to throw the keggers that landed me in so much trouble at home.
I think you masked all your insecurities under a blanket of tough-girl bravado. You suffered worse than normal teenage acne, scars and pus dotting your face, and Accutane didn’t help. Your father had just wed wife number three, your Girl Scout leader of all people, and you boycotted the ceremony, telling your dad that if he legally adopted your step-sister, you were finished.
I enjoyed being your friend, and even felt like kind of a bad ass all those mornings smoking pot with you before homeroom. I spent nights sleeping at your father’s house (because despite the horrid step-mother, you preferred him to your lunatic mother), where we crept in late, giggling, and flopped onto your waterbed. You put Machine Head on the turntable and we swayed with the liquid mattress, smoking one more Marlboro before drifting into tipsy slumber.
I was a misfit, too, a chubby ‘yes’ person with zero self-esteem. That you—with your leather jacket, Kiss LPs, concert tickets, and outlaw friends—wanted to spend time with me, was flattering.
I can map the whole of 1985 around our antics, starting with the train from New Haven to New York City, on New Year’s Eve, to watch the ball drop in Times Square, a place that was seedy and dangerous in its pre-Giuliani days. Neither of our parents objected to two fifteen-year-olds taking the train across state lines, or of our returning at six the following morning. We pooled our cash and followed Iron Maiden around the Northeast, not bothering to be more than occasional visitors to school. You transferred to an alternative high school, once your father cottoned on to your truancy, and with that came a host of new friends, your friends. You included me when throngs of those friends packed into the dark, dank space of G.B.’s basement, while his band thrashed it out.
Thirty-six years later, I am still friends with Sue, Matt, and Jim, but you’ve been out of my life for nearly two decades. Your personality, like the heavy metal I once loved, became too cacophonous. Eventually, I found a softer rhythm.
Adria Winfield grew up in New England in the 1970s and 80s, eventually making her way to California. Since 1995, she has worked as an ESOL teacher, mostly living outside the U.S. She writes nonfiction essays and observations about her dismay over becoming middle-aged and the adventures of overseas living.