I love Alyssa. She was right there by my side through some of my earliest and most integral life memories and turning points. I give thanks for her being the friend I’ve known the longest, from a time when we were young, innocent, and different from all the rest.
In honor of my favorite Libra’s birthday, here’s a walk down memory lane.
After spending preschool through third grade going to public schools in Chicagoland’s northwest suburbs, my parents put me and my younger sister in a private Christian school when I was about to start fourth grade.
This private school in particular gave all their incoming transfer students placement tests. Of course public school was considered subpar to private school, so the administrators had to know where new students stood. My academic test results placed me as operating at a seventh grade level and above.
I’ve always had this thing where I don’t like to brag or be an alpha personality. I’ve always let people be what they be, sometimes not even correcting people when I knew they were wrong. I’ve always known my truth and never really needed to prove myself to anyone, nor needed external validation. In a way, though, not being more assertive indicated a self-consciousness and insecurity.
School stuff was such a breeze for me that I couldn’t even take it seriously. But if you really think about it, elementary school is so simple. But perhaps that’s just me. 😉
But factor in many attributes:
-my proud mom’s braggadocios “Chichi is so brilliant, she could have jumped all the way to TENTH grade!”
-me being the only first-generation Zambian girl in a sea of mostly white people at school
…for some reason I’ve always had this weird insecure tendency to dull my shine. I stood out enough as the raisin in a pot of rice, and I attribute that (and other factors) to me not wanting to rock the boat so much.
My test results were awesome, and perhaps I could have been one of those prodigy children who went to college at like 12. But due to my humility, dorkiness, free-spirited independence, and not wanting to be a baby among the big ol’ 11-year-olds (that sounds so funny now), I made the choice to only skip fourth grade and go to the fifth grade class.
I’ve never operated on linear time. I wasn’t the girl to let everyone know at every opportunity that I skipped a grade and was younger than everyone. If anything, I was more self-conscious about it. To this day, I just don’t identify much with my linear age. I have to pause sometimes to remember my calendar earth age, and the numbers have never computed for me.
I chalk it up to insecurity, and wanting to be smart but not TOO smart (which is stupid), but after going over the remarkable test results, I told the administration at my new school that I could skip a grade and start fifth grade, but that I should probably stay in fourth grade math.
In retrospect, I’m sure I could have picked up on the fifth grade mathematics with some extra diligence, but it was like I had to hold myself back from my own greatness in some way. Where was my Leo rising THEN?! How annoying. Like I was afraid of my own magnificence.
But all of our experiences are for us, because that was the year I met Alyssa, and we became best friends.
Being a mother today, I love observing the openness of children. They become fast and insta-friends with other human beings without regard to any social formalities or value judgments. My toddler daughter Eleven calls “hello!” to nearly every small person we pass, and she can spot a baby a mile away. She even refers to children who are older than her as “baby? Baby?” and I believe it’s because she sees herself in other youth.
Alyssa and I became insta-BFFs because of our shared circumstances. We were the only two fifth graders who were still going to fourth grade math. I don’t recall the reasons as to why she was there as well, but we were in it together.
When I think about it now, I know we were two of the most intelligent girls in our grade, so it’s really funny how she and I were the only two who were dismissed in the early afternoon to walk a few doors down the hall from our fifth grade homeroom to join Miss Watschke’s fourth grade math class. I remember Cindy Watschke as a Sicilian bombshell; tan, busty, and feisty with big, long, frizzy curly hair. She probably wasn’t much older than 25, and I liked her vivacious personality.
Alyssa definitely came off as a shy girl; a sweetheart, quintessential beauty who seemed afraid to speak. It was as though she couldn’t enunciate words properly, and as such got used to simply not talking much. She and I talked a lot, yes, and we understood each other because we were BFFs in our own separate reality.
But when it came to speaking up in a quiet classroom, it was as though Alyssa couldn’t enunciate words properly, and as such got used to simply not talking much out loud. Teachers would mispronounce her last name, giving it two syllables instead of one, and she’d have to correct them several times, almost having to shout to get it out.
Reading Alyssa’s post about her Gemini Chiron (deepest wound) in her 3rd House of expression, it all makes so much sense in retrospect.
Similarly, my Gemini Chiron is in my 11th House of connections and higher aspirations, and so in a way it makes sense that I would feel this fear around embracing my own brilliance among my peers.
I don’t have too many real memories of actual math class, but I do remember Alyssa and I sitting next to each other and always giggling about something. We would compare the fatness of our thighs as they spread when we sat in our little desks. We probably passed notes and made our own little magical world of standard deviation from the norm.
I went back to public school for eighth grade, once again a new raisin in a rice pot suburban junior high, and I briefly lost touch with some of my friends from the Christian school era.
I would see Alyssa occasionally at the megachurch our families both attended, and our reunions were always lovely fond moments of genuine friendship. How funny is it, though, that you can attend the same church as someone and not see them for months? #megachurch.
Thank goodness that social media was invented shortly thereafter, enabling the world to all stay connected on Livejournal and Deadjournal and Xanga and WordPress and Friendster and Myspace and Facebook. Even when I grew apart from the other girls who had been my BFFs for 5th-7th grade, Alyssa and I always remained in contact.
Alyssa and I have always been writers and bloggers, and her Coffee & Cigarettes blog was one with which I always kept up. I loved the realness and the rawness, and the fact that she was just so transparent about her life and her true feelings.
She shared astrology stats about celebrities, and had an interesting perspective on pop culture. It was endearing, and inspiring, and a great reflection. She wasn’t writing for anyone else; she wrote for herself. Writing is the best therapy.
When I was living in Trinidad & Tobago and had just given birth to my first child, Alyssa was a beacon of light during what I didn’t even realize at the time was a dark night of the soul journey. She gave me insight and guidance to this whole motherhood thing, and reassured me to trust myself and know that I have always known the truth.
That has been the biggest lesson in the last two years of my life: trusting myself. I’ve always known that I’ve always known, but to have Alyssa reflect that to me was very encouraging.
When we recently reunited after God knows how many years of not seeing each other in person, she took me right back to a place in my being that I can only describe as warm, youthful, and familiar. Just laughing with her touched my heart, and I was still giggling at how nice it was to see her the next morning.
Launching this very website is such an amazing culmination of her, my, and Mary Jo’s talents and expertise. I love that the girl who once couldn’t speak is using her voice to educate, entertain, and enlighten the world. I love that our work here at Sharpe Astrology has inspired my creativity and developed my own writing voice. I am so grateful and excited for all the new ventures that continue to come from our friendship.
In a way, we will always be the two strange girls carving out our own realities, together. Together, the three of us have big plans, so watch out world. 🙂
Happy birthday, Alyssa!