Every morning before I arrived at Coronado Middle School, I’d already had an early morning lesson on the school bus.

We’re talking birds and the bees, who “macked” who and for how many seconds, teacher gossip, and everything else in between—all while the latest & greatest hit played over the bus’s tinny speakers.

The hit we all listened to every day for weeks was Sugar Ray’s “Fly”.

“All around the world statues crumble for me!” we’d croon.

When we were on the bus, there was no social hierarchy.

Me, the quiet girl, sat in the back of the bus right next to all the cool kids.

Cool Kid #1 was a wisecracking, freckled girl with the bottom half of her head shaved. She looked and sounded like Peppermint Patty.

Cool Kid #2 was a quiet but giggly brown-haired jock that I had intermittent crushes on.

Cool Kid #3 was a flirty, blond jock that I secretly crushed on all the time (I had my first dance with him—we’ll get to that another time).

Cool Kid #4 was a beautiful, popular girl with long black hair, braces who the boys adored because she basically went through puberty early.

And every morning, we’d get off the bus and go our very separate ways.

But on that yellow cheese-wagon, we were a bunch of friends having a Top 40 concert.