I remember feeling relieved that I'd missed the beginning of freshman year, and that I'd never, ever have to be a freshman on the first day of a freshman year. I'd never get thrown into a trash can. I'd never get mocked by "upperclassmen." It felt like I'd dodged a very important bullet.
I harbored many hopes about starting at a new school, about entering high school, about being the "new girl" once more (it seemed like I was always the new girl). Highest up on my list was my dream of finding, as Anne of Green Gables put it, a Bosom Friend.
I had not had a best friend, someone with whom I could share my secret heart, in a very long time. My first best friend was the worst break-up of my life, at the age of six. (More on that later.) I had siblings, including my only-slightly older sister, and she was on and off a friend and an enemy, like all sisters for the most part, I suppose.
What I wanted was a girl who would love me, who would understand my awkwardness and embarrassment, and who would make me cooler simply by standing by my side.
I walked into Drama class and found her.
Her name was Shayna Liebbe. She slouched in her chair, she wore gladiator sandals before gladiator sandals were cool, and she may have been the smartest person I ever met.
She liked to say that she became my friend because otherwise she would have had to hate me--we were alike in so many ways.
Her intensity was epic.
It's been almost three years now that Shayna has been dead.