A question asked by chiyo_no_saru
Who were you in high school? How's that different from who you are now?
I was Shy Girl. I was Quiet Girl. I was Tiny Girl. I was Geek Girl. I was Book Girl. I was Writer Girl. I was the girl who worked the hardest but wasn't popular, except when it came to my writing powers. I was the shortest, skinniest girl in my class of forty-seven kids, in a school of maybe six hundred -- and that included the middle school. My hair was wild and down to my waist. I hated jeans, and wore slacks or leggings. I hid behind long baggy tee shirts of dark, earthy colors, and my hair. I wore flat boots because I was scared of wearing heels; I wore lifts and orthotics, and walked with a noticable limp. I didn't have acne. I kept my head down. I always carried around a paperback fiction book.
I was constantly teased, mocked, ridiculed -- unless it was about my writing. Everyone loved my writing. I submitted stories and poems to the school magazine every year. I was the spelling bee champion for my class, despite the fact that my class never won first place because I always choked on that last word. I was the best in the school in language, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading, writing. My math grades were atrocious; I had severe dyscalculia, and they passed me out of pity and the realization that my language, writing and reading skills were so genius and extraordinary that they couldn't hold me back.
In gym class, I couldn't play sports and the teachers understood my cerebral palsy, so every gym class I went down to the weight room, unless it was something I could play, like badminton or floor exercises. My only health concerns were cerebral palsy and sciatica. Physical therapy every week. I was the only disabled student in the school.
I was a loner. I didn't trust the popular kids not to make fun of me. My only real friend in school was the class misfit, Cindy, who had a violent temper. She and I had almost nothing in common except for our love of making up stories. We loved TMNT and X-Men and Mighty Ducks, and we wrote fanfiction before it was called fanfiction. She was very religious, first Catholic then born-again Christian, while I was agnostic bordering on pagan. I think we became friends because she made me laugh and I helped her be more creative.
Throughout it all, I had my true best friend, David Damar Diamond, who went to a different school. From the ages of 13 to 17, we where there for each other. We were each other's first tentative almost-lovers. When I had nobody else, I had Damar. He's been dead for eight years now, but I still have him, you know?
Eventually, in senior year, I opened up more. I did become friends with some of the other girls. Particularly Erin, who was friendly with everyone. But then graduation came, and we all went our separate ways. I still miss the guidance counselor, Art Cleveland. He died recently. He was wonderful and hysterical.
I went on to SUNY Purchase -- and it was like stepping out into sunlight after a lifetime in a cave. It was so overwhelming and amazing. The first boy I made friends with, Stuart, became my boyfriend for a month or two, then back to my friend. The first girl I became friends with, Corinne, stayed my friend until graduation. And through her I met all those other friends.
And through one of those friends, I met the man who would be my husband.
It took me so many years to break down all those walls, those glass walls, to tell myself it was okay to let people in, to let people love me. The withdrawn, insecure child blossoming into the woman she needed to be who almost wasn't.
And even now, ten years after I first stepped onto that college campus, I think, "Oh my gods, all these friends. All these people want to be my friends. All these people -- they love me. Love me. They don't care that I'm weird. They're even weirder. They understand. They know me."
All you people, all you friends, my gods, you are extraordinary, you have no idea what you mean to me. I've never known anyone weirder, more wonderful, more beautiful, more brilliant. I love you, my friends.