Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Say Goodbye...

March 1, 1983 Tuesday 26 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"I went to school today. I didn't have much homework. I cleaned Chipper's cage. Mom called but she couldn't talk long so she is calling back tomorrow. Mom is selling her car and buying her bosses jeep. We can use it for camping. I love that jeep. It's raining. Well I gotta go, so bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer"

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March 2, 1983 Wednesday 25 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today two girls named Diane and Kristy were bothering me in P.E. I can't wait till I move. Here is how Jeff's townhouse is: first floor--my room, garage and laundry room; second floor--front door; third floor--kitchen, small bath, dining area, living room (fireplace); fourth floor--big bath, mom and Jeff's room and Joel's room. Well I have to go, so bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer's life in junior high was not always pleasant. She was not going to miss Adrienne, Debbie, Diane and Kristy. She didn't write much about these girls, but they were the bane of her existence. They had closets full of designer clothes, Adrienne already had a modeling contract, they wore make-up, they wore bras, and they had boyfriends--they were popular. They were the mean girls! At least, this is how Jennifer saw them. Debbie was particularly aggressive and their leader.

Jennifer stood up to Debbie and Adrienne one day and she, Debbie and Kristy ended up in the Principal's office. It did not go well for Jennifer. The principal saw two charming, well-groomed girls (whose parents probably volunteered at the school) and one angry, half-wild girl. By the end of the meeting, even the principal was telling Jennifer that she should try harder to "fit in". Rather than throwing her into a rage, this advice defeated her. She left his office with a lower self-esteem than she woke up with that morning.

A note about Debbie--many years later, Jennifer worked at a restaurant in Burlingame, California. She was a waitress and going to college. A man named Steve worked nearby and he came in often to flirt with Jennifer. He was kind of goofy but Jennifer enjoyed talking to him (and the large tips her left her!). One day, his girlfriend came in to get him. He'd never mentioned he had a girlfriend to Jennifer.

Well, she came in and the two girls recognized each other right away. It was Debbie! Jennifer had Debbie's boyfriend eating out of her hand (almost literally) and Debbie had gained a lot of weight. Jennifer returned Debbie's glares with a smug grin! She enjoyed telling Debbie, with an innocent expression, "Steve never mentioned he had a girlfriend." One might call it a "healing moment"! Steve stopped coming into the restaurant after that...

March 3, 1983 Thursday 24 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I went to Lara's house. I did not have much homework. My room in Alaska is coming along fine. Remind me to write to Becky. I'm sorry but I can't write long today. We are about to have dinner so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

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March 4, 1983 Friday 23 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I had no homework. I went to Lara's to spend the night and they gave me a surprise bon voyage party. It is very fun. Debbie came (different Debbie) and Christy, Amy, Jamie, Me and Lara's little sister and Amy's little sister. Debbie gave me a really neat address book and a pencil that smells like lemons. Christy gave me a card. We had cake and ice cream. At night, we scared ourselves to death. Well I gotta go, I'm in the middle of a pillow fight. Bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Jennifer is not using exclamation marks yet, so I haven't added them--but I imagine that if she were, there would be a lot of them!!!

She obviously wrote this during the party which means she packed her diary for the sleepover. I know a few twelve year old girls and this really shows how much she treasured writing in her diary (of course, her daily entries show the same thing!) Her diary has to be counted as one of her friends.

The bon voyage party touched her deeply. She didn't realize how much anyone cared for her. Like many things in life, she and her friends waited until time was almost out to show each other they cared. Jennifer was leaving better friends behind than she thought. She forgave Lara her eccentricities in the end.

March 5, 1983 Saturday 22 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today after I came back from the party, Lara came with me and we went to my lesson. I rode Rowdy. He's a green horse like Brat. Well, the bit was hitting Rowdie's teeth and the martingale was too tight so he bucked me a few times and threw me. I landed on my head then twisted over. I think tomorrow I will be in pain. Well I have to go so, bye Ophelia. Your Bruised Friend, Jennifer. P.S. that was my third time. Now I'm a rider."

Carol told Jennifer that she had to fall off a horse three times to become a real rider. This was her third time and she was proud of herself! Recently, Jennifer's own little daughter fell off a horse for the third time--instead of tears, the two of them celebrated together!!!

A "green" horse is a horse that is not very experienced or trained.

March 6, 1983 Sunday 21 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I woke up very late. I took care of Kitty this morning. I am in terrible pain and my neck is swollen. I might get it checked by a doctor. I talked to mom and Jeff and wrote Joel a letter. I also entered an art contest where you draw a certain cartoon character and send it in. My drawing was pretty good. I am moving in exactly three weeks. Well I must go so, bye Ophelia. Your Friend in Pain, Jennifer. P.S. ahhhhhh P.P.S. aaaaaaahh (pain)"

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March 7, 1983 Monday 20 days to Alaska

Dear Ophelia,
"Today I talked to Mom and Jeff. I had hardly any homework. I am so excited about moving. Lara came over. We saw a very sad film in Mr. Mountain's class called, "Say Goodbye..." It's about animals. I have to go so, bye Ophelia. Your friend, Jennifer."

Mr. Mountain was the BEST teacher at Bowditch according to Jennifer. It didn't hurt that he had animals in his class and he taught life science. He was also kinda cute for a teacher (ha,ha). That's Jennifer talking...

Anyway, Jennifer has one vivid memory of something that happened in his class. The classroom was open and Jennifer was going in for first period (first class of the day). Mr. Mountain wasn't there yet. She walked to the classroom door and heard a "silent" commotion from the students. Many of them were standing around with their hands over their mouths, some were hyperventilating, some were running out of the class while others were running into the class. Jennifer sensed that something terrible had happened.

She entered the class and looked toward the rat and mouse cages--blood was splattered on the wall and pooled on the floor. Jennifer remembers her brain stretching to understand whose blood it could be. She stepped closer. The rats blinked at her from their cage. Below the rat cage was the mouse cage. She looked down to check on the mice. A mama and papa mouse lived in the cage with their new litter of babies.

The most blood was in the mouse cage--and the mice were gone. Well, most of the mice. Jennifer's own hand went to her mouth. Pieces of mouse were everywhere, little hands and feet, a tail, part of a mouse stuck on the wall, white hair, mouse blood on the top of the cage, a few dead pink babies, the mama's detached head. Her brain stretched again as she imagined the night's attack.

The rats opened their cage, used some form of gymnastic moves to get to the mouse cage, they opened the latch on the mouse cage and massacred the entire family. Jennifer could hear the mouse screams in her head. She imagined the mama and papa mouse fighting for their lives. The blind babies were helpless snacks.

Jennifer looked back up at the blinking rats and saw that their door was unlatched. She didn't know what freaked her out more--the murder of the mouse family, the teamwork and smarts of the rats or the creepy fact that the rats put themselves back in their cage! The combination of savagery, near cannibalism and docile obedience just blew her mind.

It was the best life science lesson that Mr. Moutain never taught!

Cute and cunning!

Something about blood has a strong effect on Jennifer's brain. First of all, it makes her pass out. Not her own blood, but anyone else's. Secondly, any memory that involves blood stays with her longer than the average memory--even if it's not a tragic memory. The blood is like an ink that outlines the memory and stains the details. Blood is hard to get out of clothes and hard to get out of your mind!

Do you have any vivid memories involving blood?

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