|Today I wear a sprig of lavender
||[Oct. 20th, 2010|11:48 am]
Because I really don't have a single damn purple item of clothing to wear to work. |
Instead, I clipped a sprig of lavender and I wear that instead:
Susie, the Amazon Senior in high school who terrorized me, a bookish nerdy sophomore who was just starting a new high school. Who was really looking forward to a new chance to start over in a new school and leave behind the baggage of her old school. I don't remember if there was any reason for her to threaten to kick my ass. Did I bump into her by mistake? Did I give off some kind of pheremone that incited her? To threaten to be waiting for me one day, with a bunch of her friends to beat me up when I got off the bus. To watch my back. To shove me into the lockers several times.
I wear it because at our 30th high school reunion, her countenance know clearly shows the ugly within. And to celebrate the group of classmates who accepted me as I was. To celebrate Mike, the Senior who shoved her back on my behalf and told her to lay off. And to celebrate my parents for encouraging my equestrian activities, which gave me enough self-confidence and physical strength to meet the next bully head-on.
I wear it to cover the scars left by the two boys who tortured me in middle school. Danny and Pat, who followed me around relentlessly. Who never really DID anything actively aggressive, never actually touched me, but stalked me, talked to me, called me and played Steve Miller Band's Joker song, harassed me, followed me. I've done a really good job of not really remembering the particulars. But whatever it was, it cause most of classmates to turn on me, tease me, sing the Kissing song on the bus, refuse to sit with me because I was "dirty". Who threw up at home at the very thought of getting on the school bus. Turning me into the girl who wouldn't wear white because her bra would show through her shirt. Who put bandaids on her breasts to ensure that nothing would show. Who spent years hunched over and clutching a pile of books to her chest. Who was afraid to even look at, or even talk to boys outside of the classroom. Who didn't have her first date until she was 15.
I do NOT wear it to celebrate the fact that one of you is dead, the other institutionalized, both as a result of drugs and criminal activities. And I try really hard to feel sad for you both because I know that your home lives were hard and you had nothing but bad examples in your lives.
I DO wear it in ambivalence: marveling at my ability to hide almost all of that from my family, raging that I had such a strong sense of shame that it took years before it was too big to hide behind a rock. And that finally my father ferreted out some of it and went to the middle school principal to stop it. And that when the principal said "Boys will be boys", my father didn't waver and accept that.
I wear it to celebrate that I have enough forgiveness in me to not look up that principal and mail this essay and the sprig of lavender to him. That this probably wouldn't be allowed to go on for so long in this more enlightened time. To a white straight girl. I mourn that I had to write that last sentence.
I wear it in honor of my parents, who were, for the most part, oblivious to what was happening to me, and frankly, did minimize my initial sharings, but finally did stand up for me. But more importantly, for encouraging me to find my niche, for encouraging me to develop strength and backbone, for funding a sport that was expensive and not quite what they would have chosen, but which gave me the confidence and strength to finally blossom and reinvent myself in a new town.
I wear it to mourn for a friend whose parents have refused to speak with him for the past 27 years, since the day he revealed that his chosen life partner was a man. I mourn that any parent could be ignorant and cold-hearted enough to tell their child "you are dead to me" simply because they've made a different choice, one that harms no one.
To support a friend who feels the need to ask me to choose: to be stay in touch with him or to stay in touch with his parents. Because they are relentless in their disapproval of his career choice and sexuality. They have used money and personal contact with them, participation in family events as a bribe to get him to change both. And he's afraid that anything he says, that I might pass on accidentally to them, can and will be used against him later.
To mourn that I know bullies who think what they're doing is "love". And that I am torn as to what's more effective: cutting the parents off completely, or remaining to intercede and attempt education?
And finally to celebrate: those people who stand up on behalf of others; who stand up on behalf of themselves; who support, encourage and love each other, no matter what.