By our freshman year, Leigh and I were attached at the hip. We were kind of like the couple that you can’t think of one without the other. We celebrated every milestone, birthday, holiday and small occasion together. We had our first date together (with the Dave’s). We went to underage clubs, we almost contracted spinal meningitis and we said good bye to her lifelong dog, Rocky. When we weren’t together we spent countless hours on the phone together. I was always a relationship girl. Long-term relationships. Leigh’s interest in boys only went so far at that age. She wasn’t seeking that approval that I was, as she got it at home, so she was not and did not look for love in all of the wrong places like I did. She would date someone for a while, lose interest and move on. I always admired her ability to shrug things off and get past ill will or hurt feelings to be friends with the boys after. (Side note: Many of her pall bearers were old boyfriends. It was funny to see them all together. Even at such a sad time I could see her enjoying it immensely from her seat up above). She was never really serious about boys in our younger years. She knew there was way more out there for her and she didn’t waste time. I learned a lot from her about relationships. It took me a while but I look back now and wonder how she was so wise at such a young age.
During this time Leigh and I had a very close threesome friendship with Mike. He was a friend of Leigh’s from grade school who lived in the neighborhood. We were inseparable. We used to jump the fence to the neighborhood pool to swim at night (or skinny dip). We spent hours talking, laughing and just enjoying each other. Leigh and I even convinced Mikey to dress up with us for twin day. I wish I could find the photos. Mike is over 6 feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds even back then. He put on a tennis skirt, carried a racket and didn’t bat an eye. He used to let us do whatever we wanted to him. He did the best gay man impression I had ever seen before. Mike and I dated briefly in high school but our friendship always won out. I still talk to him off and on. We will always be connected by Leigh and those years we had together.
I left my parents house at 16 and moved in with my uncle for a while. Remember, both of my parents had moved from my school district so I was floating, if you will. After almost a year there, Leigh and her parents asked me to move in with them. They knew my situation at home and I think they just saw a child in need and could not keep watching it happen. Whatever their reason, I moved in with Leigh and her parents sometime between sophomore and junior year. Leigh went on vacation to South Padre with Joanne and I had her parents all to myself for almost 2 weeks. That is where my major bond started with the Gramlich’s.