Today I sat in the cafeteria of my son's new school on his first day of middle school. He chose the seat closest to the exit, slumped right down, and waited with a passive acknowledgement that this was his life. Chatty girls sat across us talking about makeup, which had me scanning their faces. I did not have any makeup on. Everyone seemed so small, but it was a room of just 6th graders. The 7th and 8th grade gargantuas and mini-models were in another room. I kept surveying the crowd then looking back at Will. I wanted to tell him I survived. I was on the lowest rung of the ladder. By 7th grade I even had an archenemy. She had a group of girls with her at all times and she was a big girl, second biggest in our class. I was the biggest. She was local. I was white, so she won there too. She cared, I was numb. I had gone numb after my accident in third grade. She could call me honky and haole and fat all she wanted and I ignored her because the insults barely registered. Who cared, honestly? I didn't. She tried topping herself to get a rise out of me, "Robyn, I think you're even fatter today," or "Robyn, what is that on your face?" Like that was new or hurtful. Try having the corner of your mouth stitched back together without the numbing shots because you stupidly begged the doctors to stop giving you shots. Three stitches without any anesthetic, so unbearable I still remember every second.
Then one day I walked past her and I heard the familiar sound of teasing laughter. Something inside me snapped. I turned with pure fire in my veins. I opened my mouth to unleash a long stream of vile words because back then I had the very worst potty mouth, but I stopped in my tracks. They were laughing, but not at me. They were just having a fun moment, my nemeses included. My mind reeled. I had thought the worst about them and they were happy. That night I decided two things, I wanted my own fucking joy and I wanted to walk past laughing girls and not assume the worst. So I came up with a plan. My mom ran every morning. I would do that too. The next day I decided I was no runner, but I could walk. I'd need a radio headset to drown out the shouts and horns from passing drivers. Everyday after school and on the weekends I walked by myself. First a mile, but it was a terrible mile in tropical heat and a huge hill, but nothing compared to real pain and nothing compared to thinking those girls were making fun of me and discovering they were smiling real smiles. I worked up to 6 miles in an hour, most of it on soft sand. I was fast. I lost the weight and the numb shell.
On the first day of my freshman year I decided my enemy was just a kid like me so not my enemy at all, especially when I discovered her older sister was the queen bitch of our high school who also planned to treat me like crap. I ran after her the second school let out. The buses lined the path in the oppressive heat and the cathedral stood tall in pure judgement. "Hey!" She ignored me. Of course. I finally caught up to her. "Hey, I know you." She tilted her pretty head. "I'm not taking your shit. I paid my dues. So have at it right now. Say it all." I watched as her ever-present sneer transformed into an amused smile. Her little sister showed up and she unleashed hell on my former enemy instead of me. I winced, but held my ground. Neither one was an issue ever again.
I survived. Will is so amazing, he already has a firm grasp of pure joy. But if he loses sight, there is nothing like the hell of middle school to set you on the right path.
So this is obviously not your typical blogger meme. You can post anything you want. There's been anime love, youtube videos both hilarious and heartbreaking, jokes, long long stories (don't nod in my direction, there have been a couple long posts not written by me). Point is, Think Out Loud is total freedom in a meme.