Over a month ago, I started on the journey of a new writing project. Given the task of completing an original television pilot by June 2nd (mission accomplished) to submit for consideration into a writing program/contest with ABC/Disney, I scanned many notebooks for ideas. It took a few fruitless hours of searching but eventually I found the notebook I desired. This notebook held the first scene of a television script I'd written nearly ten years ago.
The idea was basically an hour-long drama that brought together elements of Freaks and Geeks and The Wonder Years. My script centers around a boy in the 8th grade and his circle of friends. Taking place in 1991, the pilot script examines the paths, trials, and tribulations the boy encounters in what's supposed to be the greatest year of his life.
Per my usual process of writing, I began searching for music from 1991. Soon, my Pandora station was littered with songs from The Scorpions, Vanilla Ice, Boyz II Men, and her:
Later in life, another Paula Abdul video would serve as inspiration for this:
That's a story for another time. Back to the story at hand.
Writing this script, of course, brought me back to my 8th grade year. That was in 1992. A year later than my script is set in, but my memories served as inspiration nonetheless.
8th grade holds a collection of memories for me involving dances, parties, first kisses, break-ups, basketball games, heartache, the pain of others losing loved ones, Jurassic Park (it opened about a month after 8th grade), and a very special Science Club trip to Death Valley. Good times and bad, these are memories that have popped in and out of my brain over the years.
In 8th grade, I was lucky enough to be part of a vast collection of close friends. We numbered high, but we were very tight knit, at least as far as I was concerned. There were fun times, sad times, and perhaps even dull times, but the one thing that mattered was that we were there for each other. At least that's what my memories tell me.
As it is, high school led us down different paths. Some people moved away, some flocked to different cliques, some to older friends, and some to different high schools. It didn't happen immediately (at least for the people that weren't at different schools) but the group of friends drifted apart. Not everyone did, of course. Clusters of the group remained. I still went to school with a few of them and remained friends with them throughout high school. I saw a few others at Church and played sports against a few. Minor communication was still in play but that dynamic that existed in 8th grade was never the same. Life choices, different paths, and a mountain got in our way.
As I traveled down the rabbit hole of memories, I felt no regret. Nostalgia took over and I was transported back in time. I looked upon lost opportunities with girls, missed opportunities with friends, and a desire to live in that time once again. I wanted to time travel with what I'd learned as an adult and recapture that period of my life. Life was not perfect in the 8th grade, by any means, but being with those friends reminded me I was part of something bigger than just friendship. Could have I done more to stay in contact or made an effort to hang out with these friends post-8th grade? Certainly. To think about those times is perfectly fine. To dwell on it can be harmful.
Many of those friends I never heard from after the 8th grade. More fell to the wayside after 10th grade. A few lasted into my late teens, but after that communication fell by the wayside. Sports and FBLA only kept us in contact for so long. No one to blame because that's life. Paths and choices are forged, made, and decided each day.
With social media, pockets have friends have once again grown. Even if conversation is limited, social media has provided ways to be connected with those old friends. There are opportunities to become friends and to see how life begat life, to see what careers have been achieved, and to see what accomplishments have been had. Paths...
That word brings me back from the memory of 8th grade. I slowly climb the stairs from the recesses of my mind and once again arrive back to the here and now. In the present. Though the years have long passed, I cannot help but smile at the impacts these friends and cohorts from my Junior High years have had and will continue to have on my life. Simply put, I want to say to all of them. "Hello. How are you? I sincerely hope life has treated you well in the last 22 years (or less). Remember that time in the 8th grade..."