One thing I have realized, very clearly, over the last few years is that in many ways, I am exactly the same person now as I was when I was little.
I had a friend in the 5th grade, Drew Strout, that I would say is responsible for the one time I truly got in trouble in elementary school. Drew had bright red hair, and a mouth like a catfish, round and almost always open. He was tall and he was awkward, and there was almost always some amount of drool sliding out of that catfish mouth. If I could draw- I would be able to draw every detail of Drew, from his straight legged light-washed Levis to his lanky arms in his maroon thermal shirt and his ski-like black high tops.
He moved in when we were in 5th grade, in Mrs. Engel's class. All of the cool kids were in Mrs. Engel's class, and I was "going out" with the cutest boy in school, Spencer Hines. Spencer Hines had hair as blonde as it was gold, eyes as blue as a cornflower crayon, and even though I could not honestly suggest his haircut was all that different from a mullet, he was on fire and we all wanted to be his girlfriend when he also moved to Robert Frost Elementary. And he was my boyfriend.
I never was the cutest girl. I have always known that. And not to say that I didn't or don't see myself as attractive- it's just that I have always known that that my looks would never be the reason why anyone liked me. I was just a little different. I couldn't then say why and maybe I can't even now, but I have known it as far back as preschool. In some ways that has been very freeing and a big part of how I have developed into who I am. There is a confidence that comes with knowing that why people like you has nothing to do with what is on your outside.
Anyway. Drew Strout moved in and it was immediately clear that he was not going to win any class favorite awards. And maybe that's why I first became his friend, but that's not why I stayed his friend. Drew had a sense of humor that trumped any of the simpletons in my grade. Including Spencer Hines. And I have always liked to laugh. And so, though he had no friends, and he wasn't invited to sit with everyone else, Drew and I became friends and my friendship with Drew is the reason I first sat in the hall at Robert Frost Elementary while all of the other grades filed out the door for recess one day. I. Was. Mortified. I thought I might never live it down.
I'm sure I had been warned a time or two. And maybe Mrs. Engel even suggested I not sit by Drew. But again, I liked to laugh, and he was too much fun. It was worth a trip to Mr. Cross' office.
More to Come.