I met my best friend Julie when I was eight years old. I thought she was the coolest girl in school because her blonde hair went all the way down to her butt and she always wore neon colors. She was super smart, super friendly and lived right down the street from me. When we were twelve years old, Caitlyn entered the picture. She had recently moved down the street also. She was also extremely friendly and I remember thinking that her handwriting was beautiful.
By the time we were thirteen years old, we became inseparable. We did the things most thirteen year olds did in that time when there weren’t any screens to be had. No iPhones, no iPads, no tablets and hardly any TV.
And they were the best days of our lives.
1. We rode our bikes all over the place, learning our neighborhoods inside and out.
2. We sat outside on hot afternoons and made countless necklaces from beads while we dripped with sweat and sipped ice cold lemonade.
3. We had our moms drop us off at the movies, where we bought popcorn and candy with our babysitting money and kicked back with our friends.
4. We had sleepovers where we consumed way too much junk food, watched romantic comedies, and laughed until the sun started creeping along the horizon.
5. We went swimming at midnight with our friends and slept all night on the trampoline in the backyard.
6. We went to roller skating parties together, rocking the couples’ skate when we didn’t have boyfriends.
7. We would bring back postcards and souvenirs from our family vacations, lamenting over missing a week of hanging out together.
8. We ensured we were in the same groups at school so that we could make goofy video projects to present to the class.
9. We went to school dances together, getting ready beforehand with makeup, nail polish and dresses scattered all over our bathroom, trading clothes and shoes until we had the right outfit.
10. We studied together, all three of us being honor students. We edited each other’s papers and quizzed each other before tests.
11. We went sledding together in those cold Indiana winters, relishing snow days because even if our mothers couldn’t make it through the snow to the store, they could always get us to our best friends’ houses.
12. We baked Christmas cookies together, bagging them up for each other’s families.
13. We leaned on each other. When boys hurt us, girlfriends ditched us, parents enraged us, school frustrated us, sports thrilled us, and the future enticed us, we were a band of three. And that protected us from more than we will probably ever know.
My childhood was fairly average for an American teenager who lives in a loving household. Unfortunately, not every American teen is average. Over 3,000 people are kidnapped or sold into sex slavery every single day.
The average age of that staggering number is thirteen years old.
While I was busy having the time of my life and learning at my own pace, there were girls my age in the world living through horrors I will never know.
Think about your own childhood, and some of your best memories from when you were thirteen. Get involved with our cause, and do it for that girl or boy you used to be. Give one girl a chance at having a normal childhood just by helping us educate and spread awareness.
Your thirteen-year-old self would be proud.