I was a theatre geek. They were computer geniuses. I spoke Spanish. They spoke Japanese. They loved Anime. I had never so much as looked at the cartoon. They were avid video game players and programmers; I had never held a joy stick. But we were the best of friends.
My senior year of high school was a rough year. My parents were getting divorced. I had become estranged from my Mother. My sister was off at college. I was terrified about my odds of getting into my dream college. But for the first time, I had found my people. I had the best group of friends.
We had few material interests in common. Yet we seemed to share the same soul. We had all experienced varying degrees of trauma as we grew up: from bullying to abusive parents to psychological disorders, we had all been through the ringer. Most of us were so introverted that we had couldn’t possibly communicate these experiences with the rest of the world.
We became experts at being alone together. At talking about nothing and everything. At being a shoulder to cry on. At cracking wise to break through the tears. We were great listeners. We could tell when something was going terribly wrong. We were there for each other when everything fell into place.
I can’t put my finger on what made the gaggle so close. Perhaps we clung to each other for dear life out of necessity. When there was no one else to turn to. When an anniversary of my best friend’s suicide came up, the gaggle was there. When each of us got into college, we celebrated each other’s success.
Perhaps I loved them so much because they weren’t constantly focussing on theatre. They understood theatre. But they weren’t in that world. Just like I understood their computer world, but was not in it. We celebrated our passions, even when we were put on the sidelines of our world. No judgement.
There was enough judgment around us. We didn’t need to contribute. Our philosophy: Listen then discuss. Never judge then alienate. That is a rare gift to have 17. A group of friends who love you, no matter what. Up, down. Conquering the world, at the bottom of the barrel. We were there for each other. And we were the ultimate gaggle of misfits.