|Me, Melissa, Anne|
The Summer before 8th grade, my family moved from Utah to Southern California. I was about to start the most painfully awkward year of school with absolutely no friends. Fortunately for me, because I came from a school where I was in a year ahead in math, I was placed in a special class—a geometry class at the high school—and that is where I made my first friend, Melissa.
I'm supposed to tell you how nerdy we all were. Our junior high subculture only valued stick-straight blond hair and a vacant smile. Melissa, however, had brown, permed hair, glasses, and the friendliest smile I'd ever seen. She and I were a part of a group of friends that all had honors and AP classes together. The male contingency we dubbed the "Pooch Patrol" and they, in turn, called us the "Female Mafia." With a few exceptions, none fo us had boyfriends or dated, though that didn't stop us from stalking Melissa's crush Chris, hanging out at the park near his house, hoping to catch sight of him and not having a clue what we'd do if we did. But we didn't need boys. Even though we spent prom night studying for our AP Physics exam—and it was our sophomore year so it didn't count—we knew how to have fun Driving to Hollywood, excursions to Ventura for biology projects, youth dances at my church, and an endless amount of movie nights and sleepovers. We had a LOT of fun.
Looking back, I think our high school was just too narrow a place to appreciate an amazing person like Melissa. You were either a jock, a cheerleader (or one of their hanger-ons) a skater, a drama/choir geek, a bando, or a nerd. The Mexicans all hung together, as did the Asians. But Melissa defied any labels anyone ever tried to put on her. With her dad from New York and her mom from Singapore, she wasn't just an "Asian kid." She was on the swim team, but she wasn't just an athlete. She got A's in all her classes, but she wasn't just a "nerd." And as you can see, and those of you who know her now, she has left the confines of Hart High School, and become a cosmopolitan, globe-trotting, world-saving wonder woman (who's also drop-dead gorgeous.)
But I have to say that, when I look at her today, she is no prettier now than she was in 8th grade, with her shining eyes, her beautiful smile, and most importantly, her loving, loyal, and generous heart. Here's to you, Melissa. Wishing you the best in your marriage, with all my love.
September 14, 2013