I seem to be very good at drawing the numbers of “parent-centered” writing topics! I thought about just dropping off the “motherhood” part and going with “my honest confessions”, but honestly that is just too wide a topic for me and I could write about it for hours and hours (or days and days)!
Forewarned is forearmed as they say…and I do suspect that either currently or in the future “someone” from my high school days will read this. I should warn them that I will probably say something that shows “them” in a light that they either were not aware of or that they were aware of and really don’t want broadcast to the rest of the world. If you do not want your feelings hurt in some way or another and you think you might be one of those people I am going to “blab about”…stop reading here. Also, this is extremely long...I apparently had more to get off my chest than I thought I did!
I’ll start by saying that these are “old” feelings, I graduated in 1998 from a very small town school in the center of Oregon (if you look at a globe, I lived right there under the “g”). There were 69 people in my class and three of them were “graduating early”, so really, there were 65 other people besides me in my “class” and most of them I had been in school with since I was 8 years old (when we moved there). Not a lot of people in the school, but it/they still made me miserable (as any teen movie will tell you are how every high schooler is supposed to be).
Being the “new kid” in the third grade of a small town is rough, there were only 20 kids in that class and 90-95% of them had been friends since they were in diapers. Strike one for me…close-knit towns like that don’t take to “outsiders” well. I managed to make one friend that year, a girl that is still nice to me, even though we haven’t actually been friends since 4th grade. Being in a new town and really no friends to speak of, my parents opted to throw me a huge birthday party at the local swimming pool. If you’ve been paying attention, you know I have a summer birthday. Therefore, she invited my entire class. I thought it was great; I was getting a huge party! We had all learned to swim at the pool that year in school, so we knew everyone invited “could” swim too. Luckily, I have a large family and a generous number of them drove down to celebrate my turning 9 years old. I can count the number of school friends that came on one hand…the ones that did show up brought other friends, siblings, random people, so it appeared to be a huge success. Even if I was disappointed at the few number of people that I invited didn’t show up. Years later, someone was talking about the “awesome pool party they went to one summer as a kid”…they were telling me about it! “Yup, I was there…it was my party.” No one believed me! Because of the few number of “friends” that showed up, I had spent a large portion of my time swimming with my Dad (a very rare occurrence for him to be doing anything “family oriented” with us) and my Aunts/Uncles/Cousins that were there. My favorite memory is of my Aunt (whom I believe cannot swim) jumping off the diving board with me (or rather before/after me)!
The worst part of the entire event was how many people told us they were coming (people in my class) and then did not bother to even make an appearance…we had to hire extra lifeguards because of the RSVPs!
Moving on, I know I said high school, but feelings and the not-so-pleasant behaviors really started before then… By 4th grade, they had re-mixed the students (we had two classes of each grade, sometimes three) and my friend in the 3rd grade was back in a class with her “true friends” and I was back to being the “friend” that she played with when no one else was around (afternoons when her mother baby-sat my sister and I while my mother had to work). Luckily, a new girl moved to town and she rode my bus! Even better, she lived only a few blocks from me! So, the teacher “gave her to me” after having someone else show her around the school, just so she had someone to show her which bus to get on. I do not know how we even managed to glom onto each other so quickly, but we had so much in common then, that we became the best of friends and stayed that way for a long time, even after high school. As the year progressed, I did manage to make a few new friends that had always been there as well. However, now that we are grown, I did find out from one that I was simply “that girl you have to be friends with so you can be friends with the one you really like”. Nevertheless, in the 4th, 5th, 6th grade…it was nice to have five or six friends that you did everything with, even if you were seen as the “outsiders” of the school…
The next year, my “outsider” status was reinforced again when in the middle in the year; I became very sick and was hospitalized over the week of Thanksgiving. I was diagnosed with Diabetes and became “the weird girl that pokes herself with needles”. It was such an issue, that when I had to test my blood sugar in class, the teacher would actually stop teaching so that everyone could watch! I was more entertaining than the kid that had warts all over his hands! Who, by the way, took some of the attention off me when he had them all frozen off over a weekend and came back to school with what looked like giant blueberries all over his hands/arms/etc… Thanks, Joey! The kids actually took to walking to the opposite side of the halls from me as if they were going to “catch” Diabetes from me…this was in 1990 and Diabetes was not as talked about as it is today, so no one really knew anything about it in my school, even the staff were pretty clueless. It is a really good thing I never had an actual emergency at school! It took a while and my volunteering to “poke” anyone who wanted to know how much a finger stick actually hurt, but they eventually went back to treating me with the same amount of “ignore” that they had towards me before I got sick.
That summer, I broke my arm at a camp specifically for Diabetic children. I was homesick and in pain, but I found my “people” there! As much as I did not fit in at my school, I shined there! I again made a small group of friends very quickly that summer; there were four of us that did everything together. We happened to meet going into the cabin and that is all it took to become friends! We, however, were the “popular” crowd at camp…everyone wanted to be included in what we were doing! It was an amazing feeling! It also carried through the years with us. The four of us were the “sought after” company! Although, I am sure not everyone thought that…it was how I felt, I liked it and it gave me a reprieve from whatever abuse I had taken at school during the year prior to going to camp each summer.
How I broke my arm? We played a game every Sunday evening, kind of an “ice breaker” for the kids just getting to camp (it was 2 weeks but some only came for one of the weeks). The game was “Capture the flag”! Each team has a “flag”; we used bright nylon things, no stick. A group from each team takes their flag and hides it somewhere on their side of the playing field (we used the boundaries of the creek on one side and an access road on the other. The “backs” of the boundaries were a building on one side and an obstacle course on the other. Once hidden in a given period, everyone starts out on their “side” and at the blow of a whistle by the camp director, our referee, the game would start and play was “ended” when the other team managed to get your flag across the line and onto their side. We played repeatedly for hours! Anyway, the camp counselors played with us, it was not just the kids. That year two of the counselors were University of Oregon football players! Big, burly men with lots of muscles all packed into a tight frame. There was one of these two on either team…so no muscly unfairness there!
It happened that the footballer from the other team found our flag and was making a beeline for the “finish line” right behind me. If you “tag” the person with your flag, they are out and you get to re-hide your flag. So, I ran right at him, another girl on my team was right behind me, and the footballer on my team was chasing down the flag carrying opposition! You can probably see where this is going…but I’ll tell you anyway! (This is one of my favorite stories to tell after all!) I collided with the flag carrier head on, arms outstretched; I “tagged” him but good! At the same time, the girl behind me collided with the back of me and the counselor on my team “tagged” him from behind with all the force of a tackle! The force of all four of us colliding caused us to all lose momentum and come (mostly) to a standstill. The two counselors were simply “stopped” by the impact, but the girls (literally, we were 10-12 years old) had an equal and opposite reaction if ever there was one! Violet, the other girl was simply knocked off her feet and landed in a pile at the feet of the two men (18-20 year olds), while I was ejected from the human sandwich and “flew” several feet off the ground in a backwards arc only to land on a small rock on the ground (I’m talking pebble here)! According to everyone who watched the exchange (including the counselors involved), I was quite a sight to watch fly!
Once I landed, 10 feet or more from where I had just been, I was in a lot of pain! This being a camp for “sick kids”, we had a staff of nurses as well as a doctor with us at all times. The nurses took me to their cabin and then someone called the doctor (who had a cabin slightly separate from the rest of the camp) to come look. I knew immediately I had broken it (a trait I have never given up, but usually reserve it for the “why my engine just died” kind of things). The doctor had other thoughts though…she deemed it merely “bruised”, but consented to getting it x-rayed the following day as they were taking another girl from camp in for one of her foot (she had tendonitis). It was broken, indeed, about 4 inches from the shoulder joint! Imagine that, I was right… That at camp, I had gotten out of bed to use the restroom. I slipped in a pair of flip-flops, and on my return to the cabin, tripped when I caught the front of the shoe on a step and fell, catching myself with my injured arm! I made an emergency trip to the ER that night with the camp director…after much debate whether they would even treat me, since was not my parent even though he had a medical release waiver in his hand saying he could seek medical care for me and all my insurance information, they did another x-ray (2 in less than 12 hours) and found I had made the “hairline fracture” worse, but they didn’t see anything too wrong with it. I went home a few days later, I hated leaving camp, but I was in so much pain by that time (no painkillers for the 10 year old) that I really did not have a choice in the matter! My own doctor performed an x-ray a few days later because she did not like the quality of what was sent from the other hospital. She found that I did not have a “hairline fracture”, but that I had completely dislocated the bone! Luckily, the bone ends had broken cleanly, no shards of bone floating around and they were staying in the dislocated position without causing any damage to the muscles and such around them, so rather than re-breaking it to set it properly, they opted to leave it as is. The up side to that is that my bone in my right arm is much thicker and less likely to ever break there again.
Side story done, back to what I am supposed to be telling you about! I will skip to high school since most of the years in between are more of the same…few friends, no one really even “nice” to me unless they had to for some reason or another. Most of high school was more of the same as well, but there are always a few people that stand out in the crowd… Not that all of them were cruel all the time, I really should back up and say that a good number of them were even downright “nice” to me if I had an interaction with them outside of school with no other classmates around. The best story of someone actually being nice to me was just a few days before 6th grade (I know…I promise I will talk about high school right after this one!), It was the first year that McDonald’s put those big play structures in their restaurants, I was super excited! I know, I was probably too old to be that excited, but what can I say? My mother had taken my sister and me to have lunch (a rare thing on a tight budget) and to play on them. Of course, they had a “you must be shorter than this” mark and I was well beyond that silly little finger… Therefore, while my sister went to play, I went to sit with my mother and eat my chicken nuggets and “6 French fries”, the serving size put forth by my nutritionist. Low and behold, the other family outside was someone in my class! He had five or six younger siblings all getting to play but was also too tall to get to play himself. So, like any well-meaning parents might do, they set the two of us up at one table and went to eat and chat at another table. We ate in silence for a bit and when we got to talking about the unfairness of the silly finger height, found that we had a lot in common! Not that it blossomed into any sort of friendship, but I can honestly say that he was never one of the kids to pick on me after that. I actually do not really remember much of him in high school, but his name is right there along with everyone else’s that graduated with me 8 years later.
My freshman year I “dated” (held hands on the bus home) a boy that lived near me briefly, he was in the grade below me (though older than I was) and so was still in the middle school. I caught a lot of grief for it and it did not last more than a few weeks (what high school relationship really does though?). This started the torment that I would know as “life” as a high schooler. As I mentioned it was a very small school, so my main tormentor rode my bus and lived only a few miles from me. That meant he had maximum time to torment me on an on-going basis. It started out as “innocent” as tormenting can be, throwing spit balls at me, kicking my chair, but escalated beyond what would be “normal” very quickly. I had grown a fairly thick skin by the time I made it to high school, but the names I was called still hurt, the insinuation of things that they were threatening to do were down right terrifying! No one in the 13-17 year old range should think that she better always have a friend with her else she may be violated that way. (I will not go into specifics as to what was threatened because honestly the thought of what was written and whispered still gives me nightmares.) Needless to say, I spent a good deal of my time scarred of being alone though… Unfortunately, our first names were as close as they could be in alphabetical order and so when teachers opted to sort us by first name on seating charts, I was always stuck with him in front of behind me in the rows of desks. I prayed for the classes to be sorted by last name…”Barrett” was farther away from me! Not that it was all one sided though, I looked for opportunities to exact a little revenge here and there when I could. He may have been able to torture me with words and actions on a daily basis, but I jumped at the chance to “hurt him” when I happened to see him looking at porn on a school computer during a lunch break one day. Our library staff was entirely made up of women, even the teacher who was in charge of the computer lab was a woman. So, when I informed them of what he was doing and they went and read the history (he had quickly clicked to something else when a teacher approached), he had to explain to all of them what exactly “Barbie girls dot com” was…I don’t know if it still exists today, but I do not suggest you go look at it! I later found out that they also called in his mother and he had to explain what he was doing to her too… Of course, my little bit of “revenge” was met with more violence… At the time, I was on the track team and while they didn’t particularly care for me either (I got abuse there because I was “fat” and couldn’t keep up with all the “runners”), they did protect me because I was “part of the team”. My tormentor was on the school’s baseball team and for whatever reason, his indiscretion was “cool” but my turning him in for it meant I was going to be “beat with a bat by each member of the baseball team”. At least, that was the threat I was told repeatedly on my way to track practice that day. Really? An entire team of boys was going to beat up one girl for something their teammate did? This is where my teammates saved my bacon so to speak, I doubt anything would have come of it, but with this threat being openly discussed in the men’s locker room (as told to me by my male friends who were also on the track team with me), and members of the track team really stepped it up in my defense! Small schools usually have large sports teams were they could; we had over 60 people on the track team that year! Someone, who had been one of those “runners” who always gave me hell during practice because I couldn’t run a mile (at all), stopped those boys in their tracks when he told them that if any of them were to come near me, they would have the entire track team to deal with. There were (I don’t know) 13 people on the baseball team, there were 60 of us!
The year following that incident was mostly peaceful as far as the abuse I received from this one bully went. Not that it went away, but it wasn’t as bad at any rate. I forget what year it was, 11th or 12th grade, but for some odd reason we both were on the school bus going home one day (this almost never happened those years). My tormentor was in the seat behind me and kept “popping” the metal backing in the seat with his knee, I kept telling him to stop and in continued for a large portion of the ride (a 45-minute drive and he didn’t get off the bus until 2 stops before mine). I finally had enough, turned around and slapped him across the face. Not hard, more like a tap when it actually connected. I was as surprised by the reaction as he was I think! I hadn’t planned on it, but when I turned around to yell, my hand came up and was fast approaching his face when I realized what was happening, I slowed the reaction and barely connected with his cheek. It was enough though to get him to stop what he was doing for the remainder of the ride home!
As I mentioned before, I took every chance I could get to “get back at him” for all the abuse, that even including being nice to him when I knew I could make him look like a fool to the rest of the school. One morning in our senior year, I was taking a back road to school (yes, I grew up where we had actual dirt back roads!) and came across his brother and him stuck in the soft dirt. I had a friend with me, or I would not have stopped. Nevertheless, I did, so I stopped, asked them if they needed a ride and proceeded to drop his little brother off at his school and take the three of us on to our school. He got a lot of ribbing that day because he could not extract his truck from a little dirt and when they had gone to retrieve it during lunch, all they had to do was engage the four-wheel drive to back it out of the mini pit he had dug. Of course, that information worked to my advantage when I buried my truck up to the hub caps a few weeks later to avoid a head on collision with a small car going the opposite direction on the same dirt road (it was only wide enough for one car at a time)! I just jumped out, turned in the wheels (I drove an old GMC Jimmy…big SUV), and was on my way in a matter of a few seconds…while the driver of the Thunderbird had to go change his pants as he had wet them when my big truck rounded the corner straight at him!
I have drifted away from each and every friend and enemy I made in high school, having graduated 13 years ago this past June. To the point of, I think I can say, without hurting anyone’s feelings, that I do not have any friends (other than acquaintances) left from that period of my life. Now, there is Facebook…I have several of the people I went to high school on my so-called Friends list! I got “invites” from them saying how excited they were to finally “find” me on there! Really? Do you even know who I am…or did you add me simply because I said I graduated the same year as you? I do not mind having them there and I really do like seeing how life has turned out for them! My single friend from the third grade is expecting her second child in (I think) February! But, then there are the ones I dread ever “finding” me there…the boy that caused me so much trouble for instance! I know, from seeing him in other’s “friends lists” that he apparently has a child…all I can hope is that maybe he has learned something from how he treated me and does not pass that on to his child. One can only hope though!
The hurt feelings did not just stop after graduation though…I mentioned earlier my so-called friend that told me that she was only friends with me in school so she could be friends with my “best friend”. It would appear from how quickly some of the other friends disappeared from my life that this was true for most of them. Besides those hurt feelings from basically losing my friend base, I discovered this year that there was indeed, a 10 year reunion for my class…I was not invited. The pictures I found look like it was a lot of fun though… I wonder if I will be told when the 20-year one will be, obviously it will be some time in 2018…I know that much at least! My other half’s 20-year reunion is coming up next year…I have been invited to that one, lol. (By my other half, of course.)
Okay, so I don’t know if that was really “confessions” or just me whining about how much high school sucked, but I feel better about some of it. If any of the particular people I ranted about read it, I hope they learn something new about themselves and actually learn from it!