High School Friends and New Adventures

High school good girls enjoying drinks! Happy birthday to Sandra Ortiz.
I could not ask for a more loyal friend. / Photo by Jaqueline Navarrete.
Friday, April 4, 2014 (On my drive to Los Angeles)

It’s 9:15pm and we are but two hours and forty-five minutes away from Los Angeles, our home. Amos and I talk about work, food, junk food, getting old, French movies, and how clear the sky looks after the rain. I mentally prepare myself for a good time with my friend Sandra, who has an important birthday to celebrate this weekend. This morning, as I packed a little bag for the weekend getaway and reunion with my high school friend and sister Jackie (part of the femme B-Hall group from Grover Cleveland High School), memories rushed back to me. We would always stand by our lockers, which happened to be next to Mr. Lowe’s science class (who I am sure heard his share of teenage woe stories thanks in large part to us) --- anyways, I digress...

My friend and I were not really the cool kids on the block. We were the ladies who enjoyed talking to the foreign students (partly because we all felt pretty foreign too), the nerdy kids, the jocks, the architect crew, the future educators group, the divas and divos, and we didn’t care. We loved bumping into each other and talking about ridiculous things like - Blink 182, Destiny’s Child, love letters, angry friend breaks ups, and what the latest gossip was after Ian's house party the weekend prior. We competed in SkillsUSA and got gold medals for our mock job interviews. We visited elementary schools and taught children art. We fell in love with the same guys, and competed against each other in Chemistry class, all in all to make sure we weren't left behind in a smoke of "she's just another Latina."

I continued to stuff my luggage with essentials like hard drives and deodarant (the usual) ---and in the process remembered my old house on Saticoy Boulevard. Shooting the breeze on my front porch with boys who were not allowed in the house, writing in my shared journal that I exchanged weekly with a friend, and walking seven blocks down to visit Sandra. She used to live by a nursery. It was always nice going to her house because you’d see the most amazing plants and birds next door to her. I remember, Sandee (as I used to call her) greeted me, her home was warm and there was always had a nice hot plate of something yums to enjoy during the visit. My personal favorite was her mother's enchiladas. 

As Amos drives over the hills on the 5 highway, I think about aging. Birthdays have a way of doing that. Man, I've known Sandra for a long time! I think to myself. And the closer LA creeps up on us, the more I get to relive these old memories, that somehow remain crisp in my mind. Opening up to my memories with Sandra also meant to open up the other high school moments --- of me being young and unapologetic about my dreams. Magic Mountain is beside us and I tap on the window, I remember the day I said I'd never get on another roller coaster again, "I have nothing more to prove!" I stated out loud. I was mixing memories from high school, middle school, and a broken heart --- all which happened in the amusement park. Surges of colors and moments of awkward teenage days are abruptly interjected into my stream of consciousness. As if someone cracked open a crunchy bell pepper in front of my nose, and I take in the scent --- remembering the shape, color, and experience of it all. The memories, fresh and green and always present. These memories live in a space in the corner of my mind. 

A space where true love waited for me somewhere, a space where someday I was going to be rich because that meant that I would be happy, and a space where I would be able to make a difference in this world. My young beautiful naive self before she got smacked around by real life. Real life, thanks for the wake-me-up! And it's not dismay or regret I feel, no --- it resembles more the feeling of freedom mixed with nostalgia because these are the things that come to me when I think about high school and my friends. I suppose it’s the cycle of life. I appreciate everything I’ve been through; the good, the bad, and the weird.

I look forward to sharing this special weekend with my ladies. I want to talk about our new grown-up adventures. I look forward to talking about real love, the meaning and significance behind money, and making a difference in any community. It may not be the world, but hey --- a life is like a universe in my eyes. 

And so, life goes on. Sandra teaches, I make movies and dance, and my sister makes comedy with her words and art. We three San-Fernando-Valley-Somebodies joining forces again to talk about life, and enjoy each others’ company by reminiscing about the days we thought we knew it all. I hope it will be over a hot plate of something yums. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 (Oakland, CA)

My time with Sandra and Jackie was incredible. We talked about everything under the sun --- and celebrated how grown up we are nowfollowed by a celebration about how not so grown up we are, as well. We set goals and made one another accountable for our next five years. The three of us --- we bonded over ghost stories, potato chips, molten chocolate cake, Jonny D and margaritas. Indeed, we did end up catching up over something yums