Rachel’s birthday was the day after mine, but a year earlier. Still, we were in the same grade in school. In first grade, I was new to the school, and Rachel was in my class.
First Grade Fashion
I was six, and she was seven. She had thick, straight red hair and freckles. She had cool clothes and cool school supplies. I went to her house to play once. And she came to my house another day. We were friends!
She had lots of those fun, 80s, T-shirt accessories that you used to tie your shirt to the side.
These t-shirt rings have rhinestones. So did all of Rachel’s.
Then, I got a really cool, silver holographic t-shirt ring. (No like image available in the first page of a Google image search.) Take my word–it was awesome.
I showed it to Rachel, so desperate for her to think I was cool. She did think it was cool. So cool that she begged me to borrow it for the day.
I let her.
And at the end of the school day when I asked for it back, she couldn’t get it off her shirt. She said she’d have to go home and have her mom take it off.
And something that my mom had been trying to teach me about friends who weren’t really friends clicked in my head.
Then, in third grade, we were in the same class again. I remember a few strange things about her.
On perhaps our first day of school, we wrote in our journal and had the opportunity to read what we’d written for the class. Rachel read. Our teacher was Mrs. Rasberry. Just like raspberry but without the p. Rachel’s journal said something like:
I wanted Mrs. Rasberry. I hoped for Mrs. Rasberry. I asked for Mrs. Rasberry. I begged the Lord to give me Mrs. Rasberry.
And I got Mrs. Rasberry!
For the record, Rachel, I requested Mrs. Rasberry, too.
Then, our school supplies list told us to buy six folders in specific colors. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Purple was our Take-Home/Homework folder. But, Rachel didn’t have a purple folder. Mrs. Rasberry asked what colors she had. Rachel fanned out her folders and said, “Red, white, and blue.”
As I’m writing this I realize that third grade was my first group project.
I’m pretty sure that this project was with Chrissy, who was a thin tomboy with long, scraggly hair and thick bangs. And Meredith who was beautiful and tan and had long, white-blonde hair.
I wished I had long hair. But I cried too much in kindergarten when my mom would brush it, so she lopped it off into a little mushroom head bob that I kept through first grade. I spent second grade growing out my bangs. Third grade I hand log bangs and shoulder-length hair.
And the final member of our group was Rachel. Rachel sat near me, the only person she knew, on the first day of third grade, so w were all in a group together. It was a newly built school with new boundaries, so we had all come from other schools the previous year.
We were supposed to choose a geographical location and study all the wildlife. When we discussed, Rachel presented a different idea. Let’s just study wolves.
I didn’t think we’d be allowed to narrow down that much, but Rachel convinced Mrs. Rasberry, and our group researched only wolves. Every kind of wolf, but only wolves.
We read books. We wrote note cards, and we made a diorama. Actually, that’s where our next problem came about. Rachel didn’t like the way we were making the diorama. The day before we presented our group project, she decided to leave the group to work on her own.
My deepest apologies that I don’t have the photo for this. My group decided we would wear our wolf shirts. But I was never dorky enough to have a wolf shirt. You remember.
So, I wore an oversized black shirt instead. My dad had written a Japanese character on it in bleach, and I wore it with black leggings. I talked about timber wolves in front of the class.
Chrissy, Meredith, and I all presented as a group. Then, Rachel got up and said, “We had some issues in our group, so,” and showed her own, separate diorama and gave her own presentation.
Sarah The Bully
So. I pretty much stopped being friends with Rachel. And she always had to be the center of attention, the one who got special treatment.
Months later, which felt like years because I was eight, I was at recess when a girl named Cara said, “Who doesn’t like Rachel?” She used her last name, too, but I won’t.
I raised my hand. I didn’t know why it was being asked, but I felt I’d been manipulated by Rachel since first grade. All the other girls raised their hands, too. Cara and Rachel had gotten into some drama. Cara felt used.
Then, that afternoon, Mrs. Rasberry took me, and other people, out to the hallway to ask about what happened. We had all hurt Rachel’s feelings. Totally understandable. It had turned into a group of girls ostracizing one person. I felt bad. I did not want to bully anyone.
But I did not feel bad for not liking Rachel. I stopped liking her well before it became cool.
Did you ever have a frenemy?