Debbie is growing up. Even though she’s in the same town, she’s in a new school. Junior high school. Without best friend Nancy at her side, life is lonely–and filled with uncertainty.
First day of school. First day of junior high school. Rita, Jannie, and I fidget at the bus stop, dressed in our finest first-day outfits. Jannie looks like a blond Agent 99 from Get Smart in a sleek, checked jumper. Rita, with her dimples and fringed shirt, reminds me of Audra from the Big Valley television western. And I’m just me, but with the red paisley dress I bought with my own money, I feel as cute as Gidget, the TV beach bunny.
Five dollars of my nursery school money went into the bank, and five bought this dress with enough left over for an ice cream soda on our way home from the annual school shopping trip.
The school bus deposits us at the brand new junior-senior high school, a wide, low, red-brick building. Only two cubes for the gym and auditorium rise taller than two stories. I kind of wish I’d gotten to attend the old high school, tall and majestic, with its columns guarding the front doors.
Not only do the kids from Quogue and Remsenburg join up with Westhampton, six different grades share the school. Seniors are eighteen years old, sometimes nineteen. I haven’t turned twelve yet. Scary. The crowd surges around us, and I lose Jannie and Rita. If Nancy still lived across the street, we would have stuck together.