For some strange reason in my Junior year of High School I decided to switch schools. I wanted to be a tough girl and force myself into something hard and pretend it wouldn't be a challenge. Well, it was. My only sister had moved out of the house. The first boy I ever cared about was about to break up with me. I had distanced myself from all my girlfriends. My running went to crap and I went from earning my Varsity letter at the former school to barely making the new JV team. I essentially felt completely alone.
My step dad worked at this new school and I will never forget the third day. I went to his empty office and sat in a corner wedged myself between it and the door so no one would see me. It was raining outside so there was also a large coat hanging on the door to hide me. I sat there and cried during the entire hour of lunch. I just bawled. I was angry and afraid and lonely and sad. It sucked. But I think it was the therapy we all need from time to time. To stare directly at the fact that we are not immune to bad feelings, so accept it and purge it.
I think the next day I was boldly determined to shove those bad feelings into strength (maybe it was a week or month later...who knows). I used all the output of sad and translated it into fiercely active energy by making friends of all sorts. Not necessarily lots of them, just all sorts. The strange art kid who drew amazingly dark pictures and wore his girlfriend's black lipstick. The socially odd swimmer, Gib, who wore jeans with large holes in them. The girl in History who loved Smashing Pumpkins and got high. Anise, the girl from Germany, who ran cross country with me and loved to listen to Lita Ford. Angie and her friend with the convertible who was an only child and invited me to a fish fry. The boy in Physics who told me I was pretty, but that I would be more pretty if I wore make-up and fixed my hair. The girl who hit him and told him that was rude. It was true, I could have tried harder at looking nicer, and I wanted to kiss him hard for saying it out loud. He was right, although it didn't change me. Not that year. I still didn't really care about that sort of thing at the moment.
The interesting thing about this time in my life was how clearly I heard my teachers. It was like they were the people in my life at that time I found most interesting and gained some direction from. The ones that made the strongest imprint in my High School education because the kids around me didn't really matter as much as usual, they were all equally unknown to me.
The Chemistry teacher walked the track after school in white orthopedic shoes and always told his class you can eat anything you want if you exercise. The driver's ed teacher loved the bumper sticker "Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty" and laughed with me when my musical Christmas socks accidentally went off during a written exam in the middle of October. My English teacher found my writing to be rather mature and creative, this was a first I had heard of it being something of a talent for me. My math teacher was impressed I requested we turn in the homework when giving the class this as an option. I wanted to be able to hold myself accountable for actually doing it and being prepared for the exams. I believe this was the first semester I did not get a report from a single teacher that I displayed 'inappropriate classroom behavior'. I wised up sucker, and worried a little less about making people laugh around me and more on learning.
I completed that semester with remarkable grades, unique acquaintances I wouldn't see again, and headed back to where I started my High School experience. It all looked different and made me all the more eager to head off to college. Not just for my boy crazy grazing, but I genuinely looked forward to the knowledge and insight Professors might deliver.