In 5th grade I remember telling someone that the popular girls talked about unpopular girls so much, you had to consider the unpopular girls popular. The logic fails to shield me. Same year: "You know you can see your boobs through your shirt. You need a bra." (y'all, I did not have boobs at that point. but my mom, bless her for this, understood and got me one of those 'training bras')
I explore the tiny peninsula of Nahant Mass both on my own and with a friend, Lauren. We "discover" weird plants in the water and went to the library to look up what they were.
The following year, at a new school, it rains at a sports day and my white shirt is wet. "You *know* everyone can see your bra, right?" I couldn't have ignored it, what with the hormonal boys following me around.
Next to our corner lot house is a wooded area. Neighborhood kids come together to play therein. We also play in each other's yards- soccer, tag football, tag. And the family across the street lets us use their pool - I spend a lot of time running and jumping and exploring. (clearly my childhood was very free range).
"Does anyone have any other nominations for the beauty pageant?
I am staring at the cinder block wall and do not see who volunteers.
"Theresa!" the volunteer says with a giggle, followed by laughter.
Later on, as I tell my mother, she suggests I compete because"you are very beautiful" but already the seed had been planted that I was not.
I talk to the student in front of me in homeroom. She helps me understand Algebra. I tell her the plots to Star Trek TNG and Young Riders. The time spent in homeroom, combined with the time in band, was the highlight of each day. (ok, so my priorities were askew)
Same year- The pack of girls I thought were friends start shunning me. I try harder to fit in. I have a birthday party no one comes to- they all have reasons why they can't come at the last minute. I realize the futility of trying when I am sitting with them and hear them talking about sleepovers they had that I clearly hadn't been invited to.
I fall in with some new friends, centered around the perky spunky girl from homeroom. When we are together, silliness evolves. More than once the German teacher threatens to separate us.
Same school- different year- In VoAg class I am one of two girls learning woodwork mostly, though there were some other things taught. A boy is constantly getting into my space, coming close to touching my chest. I grab his finger and use my un-manicured nails to dig into his skin. I draw blood. He still doesn't leave me alone..."oh, like it rough, huh?" I pull out the biggest threat I have: don't mess with me, my father's a Marine and meat cutter- he knows how to kill you, and how to make you disappear. Later my folks have a sweatshirt made that says: messing with me means suicide, my father's a Marine. I wear that over sized sweatshirt until I grow out of it.
Could there be any closer friends than me and my BFF? Our creativity blooms into stories that will be written and rewritten, and some, forgotten or lost, over many years. (later on, after I moved away, before email, we would HANDWRITE copies of what we'd written and send them snail mail. Eventually we both got computers in our homes and could print out stuff to send via snail mail. I bet though that we both have-tucked away somewhere-handwritten stories)
Another year, I am on the soccer team. I am one of two girls. I perfect the slide kick well enough to use it on tormentors who are on the team. The teasing lessens, except from the goalie. He still throws salt in my hair, ketchup packs under my feet. This stops after I confront him. This confrontation might have left his shin rather bruised.
I move away from my BFF. I become the tom-girl who wears baggy shirts and jeans- sneakers and little or no make up. I form no real lasting friendships in high school. I am focused on getting good grades so I could go to college.
And in college it got better.
And after college, yes, better then too.