Surrey isnít much to look at. A few strip malls with the mandatory video store, corner store and liquor store. School in each neighbourhood, some old some new, the kids in each having some strange anger towards each other, even though they have never met. There are police stations, doughnut shops, parks and clubs. Surrey is known as Slurry by the rest of the lower mainland, some of the more narrow minded call it Curry, in reference to the large, relatively new population of east Indians. Surrey kids are not supposed to amount to much. They are supposed to be underprivileged, ignorant and lazy. I grew up in Surrey.
My house was the big white house. My mom bought it from my uncle and grandfather. It was known in the area because it had been there so long. It was the big white house. When people asked where I lived it was easy, you know, by 104 and 128, the big white house. My friends were mostly from the French immersion class my mom enrolled me in. I had to take a bus to school, from Whalley, Surrey central according to the new city planners, to Guildford. The kids were supposed to be from better families, families that would go the extra mile to get there kids in French immersion. So because of that I didnít really know the kids around my house until grade 8, West Whalley.
West Whalley was the school that time forgot, until about five years after I left when they tore it down to rebuild a new school, full of wonders like properly sized hallways, computers, a track and maybe even a real work out gym. Some of my friends parents had got the West Whalley and they said it had never changed. One of my friends parents had even lived in the big white house, rented a room in it while he was a teenager. The principal that worked at West Whalley when I got there vowed to clean things up. I still saw a fight where one guy ripped out another guys earring (doing him a favour really) and his ear bled all over the hallway, a fight where one guy pulled a switchblade on one of my friends, never once did I hear about any repercussions for these kids. The smoke pit (for kids between 13-16) was right outside the principals office. He did a really good job of cleaning it up.
West Whalley was deemed a ghetto school, we made fun of ourselves to take the wind out of anyoneís attempt to laugh at us. We had old books, a faded school and faded kids. Even then I didnít think my friends would amount to much. Would kids who boxed each other at lunch go to university, would they own their own business? Would these kids who smoked a pack a day at 15 or stole from the Macís milk store across the street be doctors or lawyers? Our sport teams were named the Trojans. Appropriate in the area as there was many teen pregnancy so when we went to a game we could route for our team and be reminded to practice safe sex, not that I was getting any in high school.
My friends from my new school were from my neighbourhood. We played hockey every night when it wasnít raining, and sometimes we played when it was raining in the covered area of the elementary school next door. Some of the guys I knew had gone to that school and were just moving over one school, they already knew all about the place. My friends and I had gone to school 20 min away. This was all new. We mingled with these new kids, the English kids who laughed at our French schooling, we were french fries. As the outsiders we laughed with them. By grade 10 we were all friends. West Whalley was a small school, maybe 800 students, so everyone knew everyone else.