The Posse. (actually, it was The Broadway Posse, but that's not important.)
My entire life (up til I was about 14) was spent on the go. We moved 15 times in the years between 1980 and 1991, which meant I met a lot of people, but had no lasting friendships. No people to say "remember Mrs. so-and-so" or "can you believe She did that?", rather, I was constantly trying to make new friends, constantly trying to fit in.
I remember sitting on the playground at one elementary school desperately trying to learn the lyrics to Heaven Is a Place on Earth cause in order to be friends with this one group of girls you had to be able to sing that song. And sing it without mistakes. That's how desperate I was. I saw nothing wrong with it.
We moved for several reasons, mainly trying to outrun my father's criminal record and my mother's reputation as a result of it. Ever read House on Mango St by Sandra Cisneros? Well, I relate to that book on a very deep level. I was a nomad, and I've yet to feel attachment to any single place so overwhelmingly that I can't imagine moving again. Actually, I have the insatiable urge to move right now.
Anyway, when we finally settled down (have been in the same town since I was 14), it was in a neighborhood full of kids around my age. It was awesome. Now, those kids were mostly boys, but dammit! I had friends. Weenie roasts and hide-and-go-seek games were up for grabs.
Here's a disclaimer about these kids. They were all bad. There was DP (devil worshipper who was in and out of institutions), DK (my boyfriend who spent our relationship in a reform school), Boo & Darryl (brothers who were selling weed as early as age 9), CP (the only girl, nicknamed "droopy" cause she resembled the carton dog and who did not bathe regularly, had many sex partners), EB (looked like a gnat, could skate his ass off, stole drugs for us from his mother), and then my sister and i (girls willing to do anything to get a rise). together, we formed The Posse.
And we had an agenda. No political statement, necessarily, just the pseudo-robin hood complex which allowed us to break in, plunder, steal whatever we wanted under the guises of "they don't need it and we do." This included snack machines, local businesses, a funeral parlor, and even the elementary school, among others. Once we broke into a man's house who was on vacation, made 900 calls from his phone, stole his food and the boys pissed on his bed.
We were bad kids. But, we needed each other. Each of us had his or her burden to carry and all that bad stuff was our way of finding control. DK and I "fell in love" early on and were the Bonnie & Clyde leaders of this group. When he broke into the school and stole all the VCRs, I stood by the window to keep lookout and made sure we didn't break the VCRs in smuggling them out. When I etched the title of our favorite song into a brand new casket, I used his knife and he made sure we didn't get caught. The rest of the group functioned like our children.
DK was the first lover I'd had who wasn't cheating on his girlfriend with me and who didn't care that everyone knew we were together. The Posse was the first group of friends I had who were as fucked up as me and accepted me wholeheartedly, instantly. From these kids, I learned how to have a friend, how to keep a friend, and that loyalty was everything.
The group disbanded a long time ago and we've each gone our separate ways, but I owe them more than I could ever recount. They taught me to love without hesitation, to not flinch at pain, and that a friend can also be your family.