perils with writing and whatnot
Junior high school (now called middle school) is an awkward time for about 98% of the general population. Feelings of sexual arousal are coming into play. The body is changing in ways that are anything but graceful. Nothing is small potatoes; everything is a big deal.
I was a chubby child. Despite the fact that I couldn’t even get a whole hamburger down, I had a layer of fat that just wouldn’t go away. Because of this, I, of course, was a chubby preteen and teen. In my eyes, it was much worse. I was fat. There wasn’t any doubt about it as far as I was concerned.
The way I saw it, my only redeeming quality was that I had nice eyes. They were those soulful brown Bambie eyes. (I guess they still are if you go by what Hubby says.) How did I know this? I actually got compliments from both boys and girls about how great my eyes looked.
As a young girl in junior high school, the art of flirting was being learned. I used my eyes every chance I could get. Mind you, I didn’t bat them, looking silly. Instead, I was always looking at everyone head on, looking him or her straight in the eye. I didn’t see any definite signs that it was working until I was in the eighth grade though.
At the beginning of that school year, I noticed a change in how I was being treated by the other kids. They were asking me what I thought on the serious subjects of being a teenager. ‘How do you like the design I made on the cover for my math book?’ ‘Do I look okay in this dress?’ ‘Do you think he’s cute?’ ‘Do you think she’ll talk to me?’
Yes, I guess you could say I had become somewhat popular despite the fat I carried around on my short body.
I wasn’t popular the way some of the girls were who already had boyfriends. However, I really didn’t want that yet anyway. I was weird. I liked the age that I was and I didn’t want to rush anything. I loved having friends of both genders. Having just girlfriends sounded incredibly boring to me. Even on the street where I lived, I was hanging out with both girls and boys close to my age, playing games like touch football and dodge ball.
The number of kids who were limiting their social life by gender, except for the one boyfriend or girlfriend, mystified me. Boys would just hang out with boys and the same thing was happening with the girls. These same kids were so eager to grow up so fast. They couldn’t wait until they could drive. They were itching to be old enough to be out on their own. Yet, their circles of friends clearly indicated that they weren’t ready to embrace the world as a whole. This didn’t make any sense to me. It doesn’t to this day either.
My early days of becoming a teenager were filled with unexpected happiness, drenched with sadness, and a variety of self-exploration. I was delighted in actually knowing what I wanted for my birthday instead of assuming I must wanted whatever anyone else was saying them wanted. I found myself crying for others who expressed horrors of abuse in their homes. Learning how to understand what I could and could not do for both others and myself were often difficult and bewildering.
I’ve heard different people say that their teenage years were their worst years. In many ways, I can appreciate their perceptions. However, as grueling and perplexing as those years were, I would go through them again if I had the change.
Text+Sound by Wayne Mason
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