My phone died, and when I plugged it into charge, I got texts from months ago. I don’t know what that’s all about. Where were they lingering? Inside a cord, stacked inside a cell tower, or embedded in the light? No matter.
Point is, one of them was a piece of bad feelings from an old problem. When, a month ago, a series of unfortunate coincidences combined with personalities that don’t quite comprehend how the other works caused me to be become the weird fat kid no one liked in Junior High. Again.
It was bad. Real bad.
I was recently trying to describe my adolescence to another friend…the Rastafarian beret, the rainbow suede, the Bloom County and Star Trek TNG obsession and complete ignorance of anything every other burgeoning young woman was focused on. I still can’t apply mascara for shit, I still think Beverly Hills 90210 was stupid and the boys not attractive and I don’t know how to use a curling iron except to make one, single backwards curl.
She said, “Aw honey. Were you like the girl in my school who wore the cape?”
And without any further description of that girl, I knew, that yes. Yes I was. Am. I wish capes were still a socially acceptable way to keep yourself warm and mysterious. I’d wear one of velvet so darkly green it seemed black, and I’d call it a “cloak,” not a cape.
I only ever got danced with once in junior high, and that was a pity dance by a popular, kind-hearted 14 year old boy named Jeff Hartman. I swore if I ever got the chance as a grown up, I’d thank him. Facebook happened and I did just that. He didn’t remember, of course, but I was compelled by masochism and gratitude to remind him, even though it meant recreating that pitiful girl.
I knew I was a pity case. That’s still the strongest emotion stabbing at me when I remember that dance. That miserable kid who didn’t know how to be. Who repelled other kids because she was so out of sync. Laughed wrong, spoke using dorky unnecessarily large words. Blushed if anyone swore. Couldn’t run or catch balls. And wasn’t pretty. Other kids can size you up fast, you know. You walk into a room wearing Pass or Fail on your forehead. And kids don’t pity. So if you’re pitiful…Fail.
And there I was again, last month. All I’d built snatched out from under me. Happily married mother of two? Fulfilling lifelong ambition to be a writer? My own home and my own life sculpted as I would have it? GONE. Snatched.
Well, no. No one snatched it. I took a suicidal leap off of it.
Slightly altered from the junior high version, of course. Into, “I am so stupid to think I can hang out with thin pretty women who fucking Zumba and have five degrees and fancy houses and important jobs. So stupid to think I’m like them. I’m not. I’m the same weird, fat, ugly, filthy low class, thrift store shit I’ve always been.”
It was raving, illogical, unfounded. I have my friends because…well I’m good. I’m valued. But all that took a sharp crack to the knees. The blow was delivered by a wiffle bat and I crumpled and bled as if it had been been a machete.
I don’t like being fragile and tender. Most of my friends, old and new, consider this a disgusting weakness that they never allow themselves to indulge in. I don’t know why they want to hang around me when I so grandly stink of vulnerability. It shouldn’t surprise me that they don’t run to comfort or explain themselves to me when I display it. It’s embarrassing to them, maybe. Certainly irritating. But here is who I am.
I am scared that good things are an accident of time and place. Badness is what I came from and am built of and it is waiting always to reclaim me. My pills and self delusions are usually the only thing keeping it away. There was a test for person-hood and you can see at once I didn’t pass. Appearance, fail. Childhood, fail. Family (of origin) fail. Strength of spirit and body, fail. Being acceptable to other people, failfailfail.
I acknowledge that, but remember that the responsibility for who I am now lays only on my own shoulders. And who I am isn’t who I was. And if someone sends me back there it’s because I gave them a map and a trebuchet to launch me with. Or I launched myself just because I saw them coming. It’s all me.
Just give me my cape and leave me alone.