Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a vision too removed to mention

When I first started this blog a couple months ago I made a list in my orange notebook full of graph paper. This list was made of several tiny lists, all categories of things you lose and things you find and how that might possibly relate to real life somehow. I wanted something that people could relate to, things that happen every day. Because, like I said in the very beginning, there are some losses too large to share with the whole world, some finds that not everyone even seeks. So we start with the small losses and the seemingly insignificant discoveries and go from there. From that list there is one story that I've been *dying* to tell. So, here I go.

I will begin by reminding you all that everyone has bad days, and consequently reminding you that we shouldn't need a reminder for that sort of thing. But it's true. Don't you forget it. Everyone has bad days. One day you wake up and you can't find your keys, you spill coffee on your new pants which you sacrificed $30 for in order to please your boss who said just yesterday, "You could try to look more professional," and when you get to work there is an angry customer on the phone, the printer is out of ink and you realize that you didn't pack a lunch so you have to drive to McDonald's while you're out buying more printer cartridges and the greasy food makes you feel queasy for the rest of the day and then you go home and you DIE.

At least, you want to die. Now, imagine that same scenario... but from a fourth grader's paradigm. This is where my story comes in.

In fourth grade, I still had very few friends. At least, in my mind I had very few friends. And they were mostly boys. Girls didn't think I was pretty, cute, or cool and so they didn't want to play with me. When I tried to play with them they put their hands on their scrawny mini-skirted hips and declared that I wasn't invited to play the game. (Which, by 4th grade, was definitely something involving Pokemon or *NSYNC.) Instead, I spent recess with Jake and Chris and we pretended we were aboard the sinking Titanic.

One weekend I decided to make the game more fun. I made badges for everyone in the 'Titanic' group. I spent all weekend drawing them and cutting them out, and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to put magnets on the back. I had a badge for Jake, first captain, and me, the second captain. There was a badge for every member of the band and the toilet cleaner--at 10 years old I thought this was hilarious.

Monday came, and I got them all ready in a little plastic bag and stuffed them in my backpack. I was especially excited for school today, so I put in a new pair of earrings. For Christmas my Aunt Jan had given me three pairs of gem stone earrings. There was a clear pair, a purple pair, and a blue pair. The blue ones were the biggest and at this time blue was still my favorite color so I put them in and walked down to the bus stop with a smile on my face. Today will be a good day, I decided.

Now, I should mention that along with not having eight-billion friends I was also still a tom boy. I didn't always look the part of a tom boy, considering I wore skirts and dresses to school every day until 1st grade when a boy said he could see my panties while I was on the monkey bars. But by fourth grade I was well into the sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes phase. Wearing earrings was a big deal for me. I hoped, quietly and nervously, that maybe one of the cool girls in my class would notice the earrings and comment on them.

When I got to school I showed the Titanic badges to Jake, but he didn't seem that interested. He said, "Oh, those are neat! Why are there magnets on the back?" We didn't talk about it again until first recess. I brought the badges out with me and we tried to hold them up to our chests proudly as the Titanic sank into the playground, but fifteen minutes later when the bell rang at least half the badges had disappeared into the murky depths of the wood chip ocean.

At the next recess, Jake got sick and couldn't come outside. He was highly allergic to peanuts and even the slightest whiff of it could kill him. So I played by myself, mostly. I tried joining in on a Pokemon game, but I only knew one character--Pikachu--and Kylee said there were already three Pikachus. She glared at me and told me that I couldn't play with them.

So I entertained myself at the jungle gym. I had mastered the skill in 2nd grade, resulting in blistered hands for months, but by that time my palms were callused and strong. Standing in line for the monkey bars, a boy named John came up next to me. John was an autistic boy that had been in my class every year, joining us for art lessons and other things. As John approached so did another boy, Ryan. I smiled at John and said hello, but Ryan was not under the impression that I was being nice.

"Don't make fun of him!" Ryan shouted at me, scowling angrily. This was confusing to me because Ryan was also in my class, and knew that John and I were friends.

"John's been in our class since 2nd grade!" I exclaimed.

"Well, he's my friend," Ryan said.

It was then my turn on the monkey bars so I swung across. When I dropped down I hit my ear with my arm, and felt one of my earrings fall out. I frantically began looking around for it just as the bell rang. Still in shock from Ryan's harsh words and with the now urgent need to find my earring, tears sprung to my eyes. The bell stopped ringing and everyone was rushing inside and the teacher on recess duty was calling, "Come inside, little girl!" and I had to obey.

At the end of the day when I came home I thought that no one was there. My brothers and my dad usually got home about half an hour after me so I went and sat down on the couch. And I cried. I cried like I had just lost a pet. I cried about my entire horrible day and how I had expected to be so good and it wasn't at all.

And then my brother Jon came downstairs. He was very concerned in his eighteen-year-old way and wanted to know why I was crying. It took a couple tries before I admitted with embarrassment that I had lost an earring. I don't remember if I told him about the rest of my awful day, but regardless, he sat down on the couch and gave me a big hug. He laughed at me a little, but he definitely made me feel better.

And that is where the finding comes in. I didn't actually lose a lot that day. I lost a bit of my pride when the badges were lame. I lost more of my pride when Kylee told me for the billionth time that I couldn't play with her. According to Ryan I had lost a friend. And I lost an earring. I had lost the chance to look pretty, to be girly, to be wanted and accepted.

But then I came home and was wanted and accepted by my own family. As stupid and mushy as that sounds... I have a point.

You're going to have a bad day. I don't care if you're 10 or 21, you're going to have a bad day. You will spill, crush, stumble, and lose. But hopefully there will be someone to pick you up, dust you off and tell you that there are better days to come. Whoever hurt you today was obviously acting out of their own hurt and frustration. They had a bad day, they gave you a bad day, but don't go spreading it around.

Just start over. Tell your bad day to get lost and go find a good tomorrow.

--Sidenote. I lose earrings ALL THE TIME. Still. More than ten years later. It still makes me upset. The end.

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