Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where it all began- Part 1

I went to grade school at Becky-David Elementary with Leigh. We had 4 cycles: A, B, C and D. We went for 9 weeks and then we were off for 3. Leigh and I were on different cycles which pretty much meant we were sworn enemies. These cycles might as well have been countries because we were much divided. There was no fraternization with other cycles in those days. Sometimes someone would step out of their cycle for a boy but that always created havoc. I remember Leigh in grade school from the lunch room and play ground. I didn’t know much about her but I genuinely disliked many of her friends. Leigh was raised in an affluent neighborhood where the families earned well over my lower to middle class parents. There was clearly a divide but she didn’t see it. I remember Leigh was MC of our talent show and her mom came up to school to fluff and accessorize her for her big debut. My mother was not so active in my own childhood and I yearned for a mom who supported and praised. I was impressed with Robin Gramlich from the moment I laid eyes on her. I don’t remember ever speaking to Leigh in grade school. I really don’t remember any direct contact. My only memory is really wishing that I had a mom like hers.

Fast forward to the first day of 7th grade and my 1st hour class is drama. I LOVE drama! Who is sitting next to me but Leigh Gramlich of the cycle B, bitches (yep, that is what we called them). I remember she said; “I love your sense of style. I always noticed your clothes in elementary school”. I was raiding my older sister’s closet everyday and I shared that with her. She had no siblings at home so she ate that up. Our first assignment was to pair up (clearly we chose each other, what kind of story do you think this is?) and make nicknames for our new partner. From that day forward we were known as Laughing Leigh and Talking Toni.

We hung out almost every weekend that first year of our friendship. My parents moved out of the school district the summer before 8th grade and Leigh’s mom offered for me to ride the bus from their house since there was no bus to my house anymore. Leigh and I were inseparable all through our 8th grade year. We found so many similarities in ourselves and also so many differences during that time. I was going through the recent divorce of my parents and she was an amazing support. It was the first time in my life that I had a home to come home to. At my house it was just me and my dad. No one got me off the bus, asked about my day or made me any cookies. I will never forget that first day off of the bus, Robin waiting for us both with open arms. She wanted to know everything! To my amazement she knew all of the players and she could flow with the conversation like I had never seen a mom do before. I asked Leigh later why she shared so much with her mom (I sure didn’t) and she said her mom was one of her best friends and they talked about everything. She wasn’t lying.


  1. I remember those cycles. They were based on neighborhood dividing lines, which basically taught kids to separate the poor kids from the rich kids. We were cycle c and I think we were a combination, but I remember those cycle b richies. Cycle d had the really poor kids. I'm glad they got rid of the cycle system.
    I don'r remember Leigh from elementary school either really. Strange though because I remember a lot of others from cycle b.

  2. are you still friends with leigh?

    that's a really nice story--i hope i can be that mom one day

  3. @ Anna- that's funny I couldn't remember if we were Cycle A or C but I knew she was B, for bitches! You are so right about the seperation with cycles too!

    @ AL- Leigh actually died 10 years ago today. I posted an 8 post tribute to our friendship and this was the first of them. Don't feel bad for asking either. I love to talk about her. I hope you have a chance to read our story.

  4. Toni, This is your calling. You are such a good writer. I didn't know Leigh really but through you she lives on.......on to Part 2.