Saturday, September 30, 2017

I stumbled across my best friend in elementary school’s Facebook again and learned she’s going to be a teacher too. I discovered how she also suffers from anxiety and has an entrepreneurial spirit like me. It’s amazing how our lives have diverged—she’s super “conservative” while I’m super “liberal” for lack of better words—yet converge towards the same goals. This brought me back to something I wrote after the 2016 Presidential Election:

The aftermath of this election has made me realized how disconnected my privileged friends are from a large portion of the population-the rural working class. I grew up in a small town (technically a city) in Southern Virginia, while the rest of my peers grew up in suburbia, Northern Virginia, some of the richest counties in Virginia, etc. The differences in our lives can be looked at through many different lenses, but today I’m going to focus on friendships.

My first best friend was a white girl, but she’s unlike any white girl at UVA. We became friends because my dad knew her parents. Her dad and my dad both worked in the same textile company. We were also two of the smartest students in our grade—the two shortest too. We lost contact after I transferred schools. I went on to go to UVA, while she never made it to a four-year college. We reconnected on Facebook a couple years ago, and by perusing our timelines, you can see how different we are. She’s deactivated her Facebook since then, but I could definitely tell she was voting for Trump.

My next best friend was a Chinese girl. She fits in with most of the UVA demographic: pre-med, college-educated parents, etc., which in retrospect is probably why our friendship didn’t last long. I told her I used to live in a trailer, and that was probably one of the first times I was judged for my socioeconomic status.

The Chinese girl and I were also friends with a Mexican. I didn’t realize it until now, but I was actually part of a clique in 6th grade that included two other white girls. Anyways, this Mexican girl and Chinese girl connected through Spanish. The Chinese girl actually has roots in Peru, but she eventually shunned this Mexican girl too. This Mexican girl eventually got pregnant in 8th grade, like a lot of girls in my middle and high school, and moved away. I don’t know where she is now. She also never made it to college as far as I know.

After our clique dissolved (the Chinese girl started ignoring me, and the rest were assigned different 7th grade classes), I had difficulties finding friends until sophomore year of high school.

Actually, let’s go back to 9th grade for a bit. My best friend in 9th grade gym was a girl people made fun of because they thought she was a lesbian. What’s funny is a lot of people I went to school with have now come out as gay. Kids can be so mean. I always wish I had done more and stood up for those who were made fun of in school. One of the kids who was made fun of actually died from an infection stemming from cancer treatments. Everyone was super nice to her posthumously.

Back to 10th grade: in 10th grade, my crew (i.e. the people I ate lunch with) included three Mexicans and a black girl. One Mexican girl I had met earlier in middle school, but I can’t remember exactly the moment we became friends. She went on to college and majored in psychology like me, so we get each other. She even defended me recently in one of my “controversial” Facebook posts. She was raped as a child. The other Mexican girl has two kids now. I don’t remember when she got pregnant—I think it was after high school. Her sister, who also joined us for lunch sometimes, had a baby while in school though. I think the first Mexican girl’s younger sister had a baby too. The last Mexican in our group was a boy. He was a good student but didn’t take the traditional route post-graduation. I think he has his own photography business now. I wasn’t friends with any of the white boys, but I was friends with him. Last but not least, the black girl—she was one of the first people to get me to come out of my shell. She helped a lot of people but she didn’t go to college either. I recently found out she had a baby too.

Junior to senior year, I went to a magnet school for half of the school day, so the people I was surrounded by were more like the people I eventually met in college. We developed a bond over the hardships of school, but I didn’t really make any lifelong friends among this group.

Outside of school, I had a group of Vietnamese friends. We know each other because of our parents—none of whom are college educated. The majority of us have gone on to college, but one of them now lives on a chicken farm in Arkansas. She followed the father of her two children there. She had her first child when she was 16. A lot of these childhood friends moved away when the recession hit. When my sister recently visited this friend in Texas, where her family had moved, she told her my major: she didn’t know what it was.

One of these childhood friends now shares a studio with me. She is college educated as well, and like a lot of college-educated students, she was anti-Hilary but very anti-Trump, which is a shame. I’ve always been with Her, but I was too ashamed to admit it because of my roommate. Hilary honestly lost touch with the working-class voters, which she was so close to earlier in her career. My roommate’s dad voted for Trump because of Catholic values like pro-life. My dad voted for Hilary because of women’s rights. Who knew my dad would the most woke dad in Martinsville?

These were my friends before college. They’re a lot different than the friends my privileged college friends had.