You Said It

Table Ten Forever

A love letter to my middle-school friends.

Drawing by Jane from Table 10, 2011.

I went to a humanities magnet middle school, so in sixth grade everyone was new to the school and to one another. And being humanities magnet kids, we were all bookish, a little dorky, and, like everyone at that age, generally awkward.

I first met my best friends in my sixth-grade gym class. Our group bonded over silly things, like having the same OCD tendencies and our affinity for Roald Dahl. Later, we spent time together working on ambitious class projects and going on overnight field trips, which were some of the best experiences of my life.

By eighth grade, we had become a cluster of 16 girls sitting together at Table 10 in the lunchroom every day. We weren’t cliquey, but we were all really close—yes, it is possible to have 15+ best friends.

These girls are fun and smart and genuine and made middle school a little less terrible. We had crazy traditions like birthday “locker parties,” a “quote book” of funny things our friends had said, and periodic potluck lunches—the cafeteria attendant referred to us as “the party table.” Outside of school, we took sewing and dance classes, played soccer, and were in all of our school musicals.

Leaving my friends as we all went to different high schools was really hard. Now we have to work to see each other, with 16 jam-packed schedules to accommodate. We attend one another’s theater performances as a group, we hang out downtown, and we have a cookie-making party every February, but it’s hard to get the whole group together.

Still, one night is always blocked off on my calendar a year in advance. On the last day of school, all 16 of us get together for a giant sleepover. We crowd into a basement and talk over one another as we recount the whole year’s worth of stories, eat inordinate amounts of M&M’s, take embarrassing photos, and trade yearbooks (mostly to scope out one another’s latest crushes).

Our most respected ritual, though, is our time capsule letters. We each write one every year, and they’re stored in a sealed envelope until the next summer’s sleepover. We open our old ones and laugh about how much we’ve changed, how young we were last year… the wave of nostalgia is almost overwhelming.

When we’re all writing our letters, the room is completely silent for a while. One friend commented once that no other people we know could ever share that kind of deep moment with their friends. But that’s what makes Table 10 so special. And when we finish the letters, we’re right back to laughing.

Here are some selections from our letters for the past few years. It’s striking how often we all talk about not wanting to lose touch with one another. It’s more striking that we never have.

Lia, 2009:


 
 
Me in 2009 (apparently “these time capsules were my idea”):

Me in 2010:


 
 
Lots of gossip from Jane in 2009!


 
 
Jane in 2010—“I’m secretly a penguin”:


 
 
Catherine records important facts in 2009, like that JUSTIN > MAX, and Lia’s mom = Phyllis:


 
 
Elena in 2009, strangely obsessed with death?

A year later, not over her death obsession…

…but still not losing sight of the important matters of the living:

Tali, Lia, Rachael, Maddy, Jane, Maddie, Julia, Alayna, Sam, Morgan, Elena, Phoebe, Catherine, Addie, and Emma: you rock. I love you. ♦

Marit Björnlund is a high school junior who loves fashion, journalism, tae kwon do, and watching hockey. She dreams of moving overseas, saving the world, and being as cool as Anderson Cooper.

10 Comments

  • Jane December 23rd, 2011 7:08 PM

    Ahhhhh i am bursting with happiness right now after reading this! Thanks Marit! I love rookie so much

  • caro December 23rd, 2011 7:20 PM

    this is so great!! you’re amazing marit <3

  • Margelo December 23rd, 2011 7:40 PM

    Yeah, im soo excited im the first one to write a comment.
    i love rookie, this whole article is really awesome. thanks..

  • Notgoingtotrytohard December 23rd, 2011 10:40 PM

    I am still in middle school…. shit. I am so ready to leave. It seems that everyone is five years old. My dad got cancer in 5th grade so I grew up very fast. I wish I could reflect on things. I am so ready too leave. Take me with you too this magical place you call ” Highschool”.

    • Chimdi December 24th, 2011 11:57 AM

      I’m in middle school too :(

  • sweeteelou December 24th, 2011 12:58 AM

    i’ve got a really intense circle of really close friends, really. we aren’t cliquey either, which is what i love about us. we’re pieces of eight (well, now we are…there was recently just a huge schism in our girl gang). i love them to the death, and we write letters to each other back and forth the entire year.

    <3 this(:

  • Chimdi December 24th, 2011 11:54 AM

    I dream of being as cool as Anderson Cooper too! :O

  • annie d December 25th, 2011 10:47 PM

    i jumped a mile when i saw the author of this piece! the world is small (and so is the internet)…
    my 24-year-old brother first showed me rookiemag in october and i’ve been reading it ever since.
    i met marit at a church close to my home, which is far away from my school…
    i met lia in school orchestra and ended up going to a New Pornographers concert with her later that year.
    i met elena (and sam — she isn’t at the thing at the top but i think is mentioned) at school and they are now a few of my best friends.
    i met alayna at indoor track and we still talk when we see each other in the hallways and the locker room.
    so, two amazing things: one, that i met so many of these girls almost totally separately, and two, that i even saw this article!
    i think it says a few things, though. it says that all of “table ten”, though they have stayed in touch and are still great friends, really aren’t tied down and have awesome other lives now that they’re in high school. and it also says that your friends’ friends are probably pretty likely to be your friends, too :) p.s. hi marit xP

  • christinachristina December 27th, 2011 8:26 PM

    this is awesome. to all of you in middle school, high school, and even college: trade notes with your best friends. leave them in each other’s lockers, books, or backpacks; trade in between classes; write them to each other while you’re having a sleepover on the weekend; create little envelopes that you can leave trinkets in from your day at school… i did this with my two closest friends in high school, and i still have a GIANT box of those notes stowed away somewhere. it’s so much fun to go back and read them all, either by myself or with those two friends. it’s a really great way to remember what happened, how you felt, what school was like, and who you had a crush on. :-D

  • maddy417 January 15th, 2012 6:17 PM

    still haven’t gotten over how amazing this is. i love my table 10 girls 4evsssss yo.