5.10.2012

May Foster Care Challenge: Day 6.


Day Six:  Your Closest Friends During Foster Care

Okay, this is going to be a super fun one.  I've been waiting to do this since like, April. This is a pic-heavy post, since luckily I scrounged a few pictures of my friends together.  However, since some of them are old, they have low quality--deal with it, this was the 2000's, lol. I will post these people in the order that I met them.  A few of them you'll recognize from previous entries, namely the story of how I got introduced to foster care.

Here they are, my friends in all their glory.  The people whose faces and names come into mind whenever I think about the good days in foster care.  The ones who were there for me. Who really loved me.  People I consider family, even if we don't talk every day or they live a trillion billion miles away.


Mrs. Montgomery
Me and Mrs. Montgomery 2011

As most of you know Mrs. Montgomery is the teacher who reported my dad's abuse to DFS and then got death threats and had to file a restraining order against my dad because of it.  But more than that; she was there for me before foster care ever happened.  She was my English teacher freshman year.  I was in her classroom during 9/11 (we watched the buildings fall from a little 10'' tv) and in the years leading up to me leaving I was constantly crying at school or getting in trouble for not turning in work, being late to class, etc.  Mrs. Montgomery used to pull me out of class and sit with me in a dark corner of our school and I'd fill her in on the latest news from home.  I know she wanted to help more than a teacher could, but her phone call and will to stick with me probably saved my life.  She showed up at court to testify against my parents as well.  So much more than a teacher, someone I consider a friend and someone who I can depend on.  I love this woman.




Brice and his Family
 
Me and Brice in 2003 (at all of 16 years old!! OMG!)


I met Brice in eighth grade.  Our area had two elementary schools (Turtletown and Ducktown, and no I'm not making that shit up) that conglomerated together into one regional junior high/high school.  I was 14 when I met him, and didn't really know what to make of the guy.  (When he first met me, he said "What's your name?" I said, "Alex" and he replied, "Me too" so I went around asking people who that 'guy named Alex' was for like a fucking week.)  I don't really remember much about that first year or how we got so close other than our friendship was very tentative and always exploding into some teenage fight, but by tenth grade we were inseparable.

Brice and I wrote letters to each other just about every morning during our first class, then exchanged them between classes.  We had several classes together over the years and that was always the best.  When I think back on those days I feel like Brice was not only my friend, but protector.  At the time I was too emotional and well...too much of a teenager, to understand that I relied on him for my emotional sanity.  Brice was the only person who could match me intellectually as well as seeing social standards the same way I did.  High school social standards, that is.  Though it's impossible for me to open up and trust someone wholeheartedly as an adult, I never kept anything from Brice.  He knew what I went through every day at home.  And thanks to his undying sense of humor I had someone to laugh with, someone to help keep me going.  

During foster care, he continued to support me, though I understand it was a hard on him having a long-distance best friend as it was on me.  He was at my 16th birthday party, and my high school graduation.  I always feel guilty for leaving Brice behind and being an emotional vacuum cleaner; these past two years are about the only reasonably emotionally stable years I've had and he hasn't had the opportunity to be around me without all the drama of my family and foster care floating over our heads.  Still, he's another person that got me through those years, just like Mrs. M.  I don't think that I'll ever trust anyone, or have the friendship with anyone, that Brice and I had.  We even have our own song.

Brice's family have stepped in several times to lend support; I already spoke about his mom in my first entry and what she did to help when I got put in foster care.  His dad, what few times he has spoken to me, was always kind and even concerned, which is something that was really strange for me to hear coming from someone else's dad.  Andrew, Brice's younger brother, was quiet as well but we had a lot of fun in school together (rather I had fun laughing and he mostly rolled his eyes.) 

Brice just graduated!!!! (May 6) He's been in pharmacy school for the past two thousand years, but now he's done!!! I'm so proud, and sad that I wasn't there.  Now he gets to be hounded for years by all the people who want pills and think their jokes are original, and don't worry, I've already made a pill joke. I'm done.  

Brice's Mom, Brice, Brice's Dad, and his brother Andrew at his graduation, 2012




Brittney

Brittney and I, 2004

I was notorious in foster homes for not "getting along" with foster sisters.  This usually meant I'd hermit away from them and not talk to them at all.  In some instances, I argued, but it was few and far between, because 90 percent of the time I found these girls not even worth talking to.  Teenage girls will be teenage girls: loud, emotional, self-centered, and dramatic.  I was not typically like this because of my introversion.  Also, a lot of foster teens were taken from drug homes and the like, so many of them were addicted to meth and talked about it in a positive manner.  I couldn't handle a bunch of sixteen year olds telling me their meth and baby daddy stories, and my great irritation level served to label me "not easy to get along with."

Then Brittney happened.  Lila, our foster mother (the same one I wrote about in this entry) seemed to think she was a suitable roommate for me, so she split up our "three in one" bedroom to allow Brittney and I our own space.  I wasn't sure how to take Brittney at first.  She was different, like me.  She was bubbly though, and loud.  But she was funny, legitimately funny, and a very open bisexual.   She didn't try to fit in with any sort of crowd but had friends all over the spectrum, and worked at a local music and DVD store.   Despite my desire to have anything to do with anybody, I found her growing on me, and we had so much fun.  

For awhile there we were like real sisters--REAL sisters, which I've never experienced what that's like--we defended each other, wore each other's clothes, watched scary movies together, cooked dinner together, hung out at school together, everything.  Our room was a masterpiece: Brittney brought in music posters from the place where she worked and there was not an inch of poster-free space in that room after about a month.  Going from sleeping outside to having my own bed and pictures of Led Zeppelin album covers everywhere was emotionally soothing.  Britt and I were so close that Lila told us at one point she suspected we were lesbians, which cracked us both up.  

Sadly, the system got to us too: Brittney, hard headed and independent, was having issues with a possible placement or group home, and me with my very poor communication and relationship skills was not supportive at all.  We started fighting, she was later moved, and we didn't speak for years.  But the story has a happy ending: thanks to the Almighty Internet we found each other eventually and started talking again.  In 2011, when I had an emergency and needed picked up from my aunt's house and driven the 400 miles up to North Georgia, Brittney came down in the middle of the night and got me.  Surrounded by blood family and the only person willing to come help me was someone who'd gone through foster care with me.

Brittney is the only other person I talk to who really, really knows how it is and she really knows me, too.  We have a mutual understanding of the system, disdain for foster parents, acknowledgement of how fucked up everything is and how it's completely ludacris we're not all dead on the street at this point.  She also accepts my weird quirkiness and questionable fashion taste, (which was worse when I was sixteen by the way.)  After all these years, she's the only person I can call "sister" while feeling a warm, genuine happiness with the word.

And though I haven't visited since (she's pregnant in this photo, the last time we saw each other) Brittney has a baby now! I consider it my niece.  Can't wait to meet her.  

(This was after a whole night of packing and driving, don't judge me.  May 2011)




Nate

Oh, Nate.  When I met Nate, he looked like this:
 

But now, he looks more like this: 

I've mentioned Nate before here on this blog too, but now you get to hear the full story.

When I was a junior in high school I met a shy awkward nerdy kid named Steve and started dating him.  It was puppy love if it was any kind of love at all--it wasn't, lol--but we were nonetheless close for two years and stayed close until after graduation.  Steve introduced me to all of his friends.  Being anime and video game nerds they were all the same.  Shy, quiet, glasses, scared of women.  Then there was Nate.

Nate was grumpy and always seemed irritated with me; I found out from Steve that upon seeing me he'd criticized my clothes and I think my hair as well.  Being a teenager and finding his grumpiness easy to exploit, I used to bug him incessantly.  Nate's temper was a sight to behold and almost as hilarious as the way his face would turn as flaming red as his hair.  Yet, somewhere along the line, he softened and so did I, and before I knew it, we were writing three and four page long letters to each other after school.  They were mostly about girls and other trivial teenage problems, but Nate knew my foster care story as well.

He's someone I've always had a rocky relationship with to describe it best--in many ways we are too alike.  Nate is very sensitive about certain topics, as am I, and since we let each other get close, we took it as extra insulting whenever we pissed each other off.  My folly was continuing to pester him after he was mad.  Graduation night (during one of our fights) we had a lockdown in the high school and I think Nate considered severing my spinal cord due to how badly I was annoying him.  But he again showed me that there are people in the world that actually care about me when I was rideless for my move to college, and his parents drove me to the MTSU campus.  They piled everything I owned into an unnecessarily huge truck and his dad, his mom, him and I all rode in the blinding rain where we unloaded everything into my dorm.

Just another example of people not related to me, not my family, stepping out to help me.  Gestures I hold dear and will never, ever forget or cease being grateful for.  Nate was MIA for the next few years; he joined the Air Force, and despite his frequent moves and despite his deployment we kept in touch.  We drift apart and don't speak for months, but it seems as soon as one of us is having a complicated life issue, the other one is immediately there to offer support and listen.  Our entire friendship is sort of like those letters we used to exchange in high school.  (As an example of this, Nate was on the phone when Ariel, my little sister, went batshit crazy on me last year and started punching me and throwing things at me.  Had I not had him as a witness to her insanity I'd question my own.)

With four years of the military behind him and going to the same college he gave me a ride to six years ago, Nate has mellowed out a lot and so have I, so we don't really have the epic clashing horrific soap opera fights of old.  In fact, we still see eye to eye on almost every issue.  As far as the saying goes about friends and politics and religion, it's not true with Nate: we seem to have two halves of the same brain when it comes to politics and religion and how we see the world.  Despite the fact that I've seen him only a handful of times since college I consider Nate to be one of my closest friends and it's not infrequent that when I mention him I call him my brother.  It's true that most of the retards you meet in high school will be meaningless later on down the road, but that's not so with Nate and I.

Well, this entry made me feel all warm and fuzzy! But I'm all written out.  Now it's time to go lay around.  Have a good Thursday. 

2 comments :

  1. This was such a sweet post!

    It also shows that the nerdy-looking skinny boys from high school always turn out to be the hot adults! hahaha

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to reading this blog post. It's amazing. :)

    I love the stories behind the people. I love that you re-connected with Brittany (Britney? I didn't go back up and check the spelling) reconnected again. Happy endings are good.

    I can't wait for the rest of this series. I love your writing. :)

    ReplyDelete