by Jenessa Loomis
Some Junior High students will tell you the best part of their summer vacation was the dozen conies they ate at a highway diner on route twenty three while road tripping to Florida to see their grandparents. Others will say the lavish days on the family platoon, soaking up the sun on Lake Michigan that left them sun-kissed is what really set the tone of the season. Of course there is always the gang that comes back to school singing “Baby shark doo-doo-de-doo” that they learned at sleep away camp, “now there is what a summer is really about” they’d all say. Me? It was the adventures I crafted out of ten long streets, a countless amount of quarters and the most random assortment of teens someone could imagine. Having such a confined roadmap to work with my friends and I got creative our long summers together. Although we had bike races, sleepovers, sun tanning, the occasional trip to the mall, and hours of fishing and tag-you’re-it, none of them quite compared to the one ritual that set the tone for every summer- the one thing that set one friendship in stone for life- Creamer Fridays.
My best friend since fourth grade was the girl no one quite understood but everyone wanted to meet right from the get-go. When she set foot into Mrs. McDonalds’ fourth grade class room, it was known in an instant if you envied her or wanted to be her friend. She had a mystical, mysterious, bad-ass persona that everyone just had to get more of. When our friendship blossomed over a rousing game of “Witches in the Tower” during recess in nineteen ninety nine, it was sisterhood immediately. The friendship blossomed just as the mystic forces around Renee did. She grew older and more misunderstood as the years passed, and we found comfort in one another. She had a strict stepfather who rarely let her leave the house. So, when Renee could sneak out- it was typically a treat for the rest of the neighborhood kids.
During the summer the gang was still on “school” time because Renee’s stepfather worked during those hours and it was the only time she could come out and play. Most other kids our age would sleep in until noon, Renee and I however were of a different breed. Most days throughout the week we would meet up at a designated spot to watch the boys we played with skate and do stupid wrestling moves on each other. Fridays however, were our special days. We would both wake up at 8:50 a.m. just in time to watch Noah, her stepfather, pull out of the neighborhood and then meet half way down our street to start our day of adventure.
We only had ten streets to frolic through, but luckily for us there were many establishments to work with. Our favorites were the free ones. Although we had a McDonalds, three party stores, a dollar store, a Rite Aid and a Donut Shop- we preferred Speed Way. The Speed Way employees only liked us hanging out when they were slow on business. All the other times we were “vandals and nuisances”. Renee and I were their favorites- most likely because she had a full chest, and I just looked innocent. This particular convenience store had a huge vacant back lot that the skaters loved to do tricks in, and the girls had plenty of room to gossip and catch up. Although, the rest of the girls were cliquing off and avoiding the opposing cliques, Renee and I being as close as we were decided to never lose that closeness. Our solution was to have a friend date once a week, every week in the summer. So, every Friday we would meet super early and have coffee and gossip. The only problem was neither of us had yet developed a taste for coffee. We both like sugar and milk so we figured “what the heck, let’s get the stuff you put in coffee”. We would slide into Speed Way at nine a.m and fill our pockets with hazelnut, Irish cream and French vanilla; and on the special days when we beat the early morning rush to them, chocolate desiccants, white chocolate and wild raspberry.
Once our pockets were full to the brim we skip out the front doors with full smiles on our faces and race to the back of the store. Once there we would empty our loot and sort them out fairly and evenly. Renee, being the most mature one of us, would have us cheers our first creamer shot to our new goal that week. It would vary, some days it would be that her and her boyfriend at the time wouldn’t fight, other days it would be that they would stay broken up. Sometimes it was that the drama would just end among the girls and others that they would dare us to a rumble. It varied, but each time those little plastic rims touched, I felt our bond grow ever closer. Shots after shots dripped down our throats as gossip and predictions ran past our teeth; until the sugar had settled in our veins and all we wanted to do was dance in the vast concrete.
We could spend hours behind that Speed Way, even when the guys finally showed up some days we didn’t even care to hang out with them, we had a blast on our own. The other girls would come and sit in our very spots some days, we had designated them by the paint splotched on the rocky pavement, although they wanted Renee and me to be jealous- they had no effect on us. No one would ever understand Creamer Friday and the depth that that spot held for our friendship.