In junior year, my friendships had begun to change. I worked at trying not to be the girl who dumps her friends because she has a boyfriend. I don’t remember how I met April but one of my first memories of her was when she dressed up as Spongebob for Halloween. There were two girls that every boy at Bloomington had a crush on at some point or another, April and/or Taydee. I never knew Taydee. April had an ethereal quality about her, beautiful yet down to earth and friendly but unattainable. My favorite thing about her was her sense of humor and her enthusiasm for the things she loved. She used to call me “Fio-manchaka” because of the stupid ways people used to pronounce my name, she would also use my whole name frequently and properly. April briefly dated Chris, who was Tyler’s friend. It was very brief but he’d spend years pining over her. Once we were older and I had a car, we’d ditch school to have adventures in Riverside. Thrift stores and chilaquiles would be our tradition for many years.
We would graduate high school in 2004. I missed the day of graduation ceremony prep to go take my behind the wheel DMV test, I passed. I was so ready to be done with high school. I don’t know if there are truly only two schools of thought on high school, either the “would love to do it again” crowd or the “I couldn’t wait for it to be over, you couldn’t pay me to go back” group. If those are the only two options, I belong to the latter.
I’d briefly tried to start a “Literary Club” with Mr. McAdams, my English teacher. But in the turmoil of his personal life, where his wife who also worked at the school had left him for an older science teacher (who also worked there), all his enthusiasm to help me had been drained.
Senior year brought prom too. I’d never attended a school dance in high school, I didn’t care for top 40 music and so dancing to it did not appeal to me. Yet prom is something you’re “supposed” to do. Coachella was the same weekend as our prom, Radiohead headlined Saturday and The Cure had Sunday. I only bought a ticket for Sunday.
I had made plans to attend Inglewood High School prom with my friend Danny, I thought it would be a really cool way to see some old friends one last time before the end of high school. Tyler was on board at first, but as the weeks went on he had more and more insecurities about it until it turned into a huge fight. I backed out and left Danny without a date at the last minute.
My relationship with Tyler was slowly inching up to the point of being unbearable. I felt suffocated and looked for a way out, any way out. One day, while standing in a line waiting to buy grad night tickets with April, I saw a boy I hadn’t seen since sophomore year. Our first and only interaction had not been very significant, he commented on my notebook in history class and we never spoke again. He wasn’t very tall and was on the softer side at the time. But now he was on the baseball team, he’d grown up, his features more chiseled and he looked not like a boy but a handsome man. He smiled and I felt my heart flutter into my stomach.
As far as loyalty was concerned, I had been an exemplary girlfriend for over 2 years, right up to that moment of impure thoughts. I realized it was unfair to live that way, I decided to tell Tyler. I had a crush on someone else and I was breaking it off. This lasted days approximately 2 days, he cried and begged me to reconsider, I was overcome with guilt took him back. It was exhausting.
Baseball boy didn’t notice me anyway, he was too caught up chasing after an insipid redhead girl. I figured it just was not meant to be, especially since I couldn’t seem to get my own shit together. I remember feeling so stuck, muted, very annoyed and disappointed in myself for not sticking to my guns.
My solace became my car, my key to freedom outside of problems I wasn’t ready to face head on. I’d go on drives alone, get lost in the confusing streets of Riverside that unexpectedly switch directions or change names. I once drove out to the desert, to sit under the wind turbines. I wanted so much to grow up but wasn’t ready to make the grown up decisions that accompany being an adult.