Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Yearbook: Julie

The year was 1982. We danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album and watched “E.T.” on the silver screen. John Belushi died and Prince William was born. We exercised  to Jane Fonda video tapes and never missed watching “Dynasty” on TV. Gas cost 91 cents a gallon and a stamp two dimes. We were spooked by the Tylenol scare and held our breath as the recession began.

It was a year of promise and pain, of sweetness and sorrow.

But it was OUR year. 

We were the Class of 1982, and we were ready to take on the world.   

Julie (Yearbook post/1982)

To a cool girl who always seems to be there just in case someone needs her. You are a very super person. You have never made me feel dumb and you never seem to mind that I’m not exactly a “scholar” – you talk and laugh and are friends with me anyway. We’ll have to do something together sometime. I wish you much happiness and lots of luck in whatever you do. You have a lot going for you – you are just a swell person!!! I hope we never lose touch! Have a nice summer!!
Always, Julie



The thing I remember about Julie is her skin. She had the most beautiful skin, especially to a teenager who battled acne with a cabinet full of crap that left my skin dry and red and flaky – not smooth like hers. She had an easy smile, like a morning glory’s petals unfurling when they are kissed by a new day. 

We first met in junior high social studies class. Even then she was a beauty. And it’s her beauty that attracted the guys, although they never seemed to hang around for long.

One time in high school, I found her crying in the bathroom. Her mascara ran down her pink cheeks and her hair was a tangled mess of black.

“Julie, what’s wrong?” I asked.

“Everything,” she said. “My life sucks. I’m tired of being used.”

I put my arm around her and she fell into my shoulder. “Then stop.”

She pulled back and looked at me with swollen raccoon eyes. “You just don’t get it. I’m not like you. Smart and all.”

“Don’t say that,” I said. “You just have to work a little harder. And I can help.”

The next day I saw her with a new guy. She never called me for homework help, and we never did anything together outside of school. She ran with a different crowd that I never wanted to be a part of. The last time I saw her was at graduation. She had gone through probably a dozen guys our senior year.

I was in college when Mom called to tell me Julie was found dead in her bedroom. According to one of Mom’s golf buddies who knew the family, it was an overdose. There was no note, nothing.

Sometimes, I look back on that bathroom conversation and I wish I would have done more. Truth is it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. Julie was lost long before I found her.  I never understood how so much beauty could be so ugly, how a life ends before it ever really begins.

NOTE:  Each Tuesday and Friday meet another member of the Class of 1982. 

NEXT: James Robert, aka J.R.  

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