Kelsie is a really good friend of mine to this day and has been for a couple of decades. Our friendship is one that we fell into.
Kelsie is black, like me and I used to see her walking in the hallway of High school. She was pretty and held herself with poise and elegance. I really admired that about her. I wasn’t sure I ever demonstrated that talent, especially when I was freshman. Kelsie was a couple years ahead of me so, to me, upper classmen appeared to have earned poise and power just by nature of who they were. Kelsie was not like that. Her elegance and poise came by just being herself.
Towards the end of my freshman year, the school held tryouts for a cheering dance squad, called “The Topperettes.” I had never heard about it before then, but I LOVED to dance so I was very up for the challenge. That night, I waited for my mom to get home and then I begged her to take me to school so that I could try out. I was late but I found out that the Topperettes squad was made up of 28 girls, who learned dance routines using giant (freaking heavy) pom-poms. There was actually a ratio of how many girls could make it from each class and as a freshman; they would be selecting three girls to be on the following year’s squad. Kelsie, a junior at that time and would become a senior officer on the squad, was one of the leaders leading the huge group of girls trying to learn the routine for the following day try out. I made the squad but practices where held both before school and after school and if I wanted to be on the squad I needed to attend practices. The problem is that my mom was a single working parent and often left the house at 5 or 5:30 a.m. and usually didn’t return home until 6:30 or 7 p.m. if overtime wasn’t available. I lived miles from school so walking was out of the question for a 15/16 year girl in the dark at 6:00 a.m. and fortunately, there was a “late” school bus that could bring me home. Kelsie lived nearby and offered to pick me up for morning practices. This is how our friendship started. Kelsie’s high school life mirrored mine in the respect that we were clearly the minorities in our school, yet we didn’t fit the perceived stereotype. Her life outside of school was very different than mine. She from upper middle class and lived in Wheaton and would tell me how she would take the train to Downtown Chicago to have Tea with her grandmother. I never knew my grandparents and thought that anyone who did had something wonderful. Our friendship deepened after she graduated from High school and went to school in Texas. When she came home for breaks, we spent a lot of time going to parties, talking about the boys we liked and going to dance clubs. When I graduated high school and went to college, we would still get together on breaks and went out to dinners, movies and yes dance clubs. We found this dance bar in Aurora, IL that didn’t check ID’s so she, myself and our other friends would hang out there almost every Saturday night. It was a lot of fun. Kelsie is still married to her college boyfriend, a wonderful man and they have three beautiful kids. We are still very good friends and often reminisce about the good old days in High School and the friends we hung out with after high school. We don’t live near each other but every time we get together, it’s like we haven’t missed a beat in time. She’s one of my dearest and closest friends to date. She has brought elegance and poise into my life, as well as being a role model for who I would eventually try to emulate.
Shelly is the kind of friend that helps to center me. If I’m having a bad day and just need to vent, I call Sharon. Shortly into a call or face to face visit, she and I would be laughing our butts off about one thing or another. More importantly, she is the person who I can tell anything to and won’t feel like I’m being judged. She understands my weird sense of humor and my pain and my glee…all of it. Shelly is another friend who comes from a very well to do family but she doesn’t let that identify who she is. I’ve learned patience, compassion and a very giving heart. We are not blood related but she is my sister.