You guys. I really shouldn’t plan a series until the entire thing is written. Like, remember how that one time I was all, hey, let’s do a series on MWW and it’ll be three parts and ooo what fun and LOOK SOMETHING SHINY LET’S GO DO THAT INSTEAD!
Next time I do a series, it will be written in full before I post the first one, just to avoid this very thing, because I honestly can’t remember everything I wanted to write in the final installment, and my attention span is too short to go back.
I have been thinking lately about where inspiration comes from when I write, and how different, seemingly innocuous events, have shaped who I am and how I write. And to that train of thought…a writing exercise of sorts.
I don’t remember exactly when it was that I first realized that I was different. I liked books. I wore thick glasses. I was nice and chubby. But at my old school, I was friends with everyone. Sure, there were those kids who didn’t quite fit in, but that wasn’t me. It never had been. Always cheerful, always friendly, that was me. And I belonged.
But this school was different. My third school, and I was only going into 4th grade. On my first day, I made the faux pas of not realizing we had locker partners, and inquired as to why my locker partner was in my locker. She sneered at me and told me it was hers too. I stammered an apology and gave her a smile. Later, I heard that she told everyone I thought I was Miss America because I needed my own locker. She also told anyone who would listen that I was the fattest girl in fourth grade.
Still, I was hopeful that I would make friends. I had a distant cousin who was in my grade, and the girl who lived at the funeral home had already come to invite me to play when we moved in. I was shy, quiet.
I was so excited the day the birthday party invitation came. Well, the phone call came, inviting me to the party, and I had only about an hour before it started. That should have been my first clue.
We didn’t have time or money to go out and by a shiny new present, so I painstakingly picked out my very favorite book at the time (“Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.”) and wrapped it up. I hated to give it away, but I had already read it at least twice, and I wanted to give the girl something special.
When I got to the party, all the girls in our class were there. I don’t remember much about the party, other than it was a Mary Kay party and we got to play with makeup. I do remember the look on the birthday girl’s face when she opened my gift and caught sight of the well-loved book. Disappointment, disgust, resignation. I got a small smile and a thank you, and my gift was shoved to the bottom of the pile of glitter art supplies and Barbie dolls. My favorite book, hidden away, not quite good enough to sit among the brand-new presents everyone else had had time to pick out. Those gifts from the girls whose invitation had not been a last-minute pity invite or parental edict.
It was my first experience feeling really out of place. In my mind, we could all be friends. We were all fun. I didn’t yet know about the hierarchy that had already been determined before I even moved in. I learned quickly, although not all new kids were shoved to the bottom of the food chain. If you were pretty enough, outgoing enough, SAME enough, you got to go right to the top.
I was different. And for the first time that seemed really bad.
There are many more stories I could tell from my six years living in that tiny, judgmental town. Worse stories, and better. I met some wonderful people there who I remain friends with to this day. But each of the events shaped me in some way. Molded me into what I would someday become.
I make no promises about my next entry. Maybe another memory, maybe something about writing, maybe a completely new experiment. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll meet me back here. Write on, friends 🙂