Amanda started a rumor that I was a lesbian. When I say it changed my life, I mean IT. CHANGED. MY. LIFE. This rumor followed me for 7 years. She made up all sorts of far-fetched tails proving her accusation. I am not sure that anyone really believed it or if it was just something that could be said to wound a young heart. My little “out” group dwindled to just Jen Jen and I.
Ahhhh….faithful Jen Jen. She stuck by my side through thick and thin. She was the sweetest person and adored me no matter what. Everyday she would sit by me on the bus regardless of what was said about me that day in school. We would spend the night at each other’s houses practically every weekend often staying up late playing Monopoly in the closet so my parents wouldn’t see the light on.
On the homefront, our house seemed to be the hub for our large extended family. My Uncle Geno was in college and would always visit and hang out with Pedes and myself in exchange for a homecooked meal. Uncle Geno was awesome. He took me on long bike rides, taught me to fish, took me camping, tutored me in math, and listened to my little girl dreams. Since my dad worked a lot he kind of filled that void for a father figure in my life. He would spend hours helping me to improve my pitching and would hit ground balls until I learned to get my glove down. You learn to get your glove down after you get about 15 softballs bashed into your shin. I loved my Uncle Geno and was so grateful for his male influence in my life.
I immersed myself into sports. I found my identity in being the best in my class at each sport that was offered. I got a lot of “atta girls” and reveled in the positive attention. I craved competition and felt a huge sense of victory after scoring the most points in any given game.
I also would draw and do art projects. I loved using oil pastels and colored pencils. I made God’s eyes out of yarn and tree branches. I sold embroidery floss bracelets around my neighborhood. I would bring the bracelets to school and tie them to the books in my desk and work on them during school when the teacher wasn’t looking. I would take them out on the playground during recess and Jen Jen and I would create away. In sixth grade, to avoid the playground I asked the second grade teacher if I could be her aide during recess and grade papers for her. I think I fed her the line that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. In all honesty I just didn’t know what to do with myself during recess.
After a year and a half I was done. I loathed going to school. I would try to avoid going by feigning sickness. My mother caught on and questioned me. I finally broke down and told her what was going on. My mom called Sister Katrina (the principal) to talk to her about the situation and she told my mom that my class of girls was the “meanest and cattiest” group of girls she had ever seen. They instituted a “no tolerance” rule of making fun of one another. It didn’t help. The mean girls just got more creative in their taunting. I begged my mom to allow me to switch schools. She finally conceded as long as I agreed to one stipulation. If she allowed me to switch to a public school for middle school I had to go back to the Catholic high school my freshmen year. So after one quarter of seventh grade I switched to a public middle school.
Now I was the no longer the “out” girl I was the “new” girl…