Middle school was an awkward time for me.
I’d had stick straight, flaxen-blonde hair my entire childhood, when suddenly and without warning, a kink formed at the top of my scalp.
My mother tried blow-drying it out, not comprehending how I’d achieved a ponytail kink on the crown of my head. Kink after kink ensued, earning me the nickname “Troll Doll”, thanks to witty classmate David Hallbrook. Now, this was permed hair’s golden era, so I should have been happy. I was not. I pleaded with my hair daily, beseeching it to release me of its bushy mass of curls which entered the room before I did.
Still, I was a well liked kid. I had a few good friends and a few boys liked me too, but they weren’t the ones I liked. Actually, they weren’t that one boy Tyler, whom I was madly, passionately, hopelessly in love with. Tyler…with the round blue eyes and the quiet smile. Tyler…the smart, sporty one who had ever so slightly bowed legs.
It was excruciatingly painful to even look his way, as he loved my friend Jodi, my arch nemesis and the girl who’s house on many afternoons I ran towards to play. She was in love with Justin, who by cruel coincidence, was in love with me.
I was still the feisty kid I’d been, despite my awkward descent into adolescence. I had my second go at punching a boy in 7th grade. He was my brother’s best friend, and he called me a “pig” in my pink ballerina leotard as I downed a slice of pizza before ballet class. I walked over to him, punched him in the nose and watched blood spurt all over my pure white tights and onto my grandma’s carpet. I was sent to her spare bedroom as punishment. He managed to muster that he deserved it as I walked up the stairs.
I struggled through those years, not yet a woman yet no longer that carefree girl with messy hair and a Kool-Aid stain on her shirt. Becoming increasingly self-aware and self-conscious, I resolved at one point to never say anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. I went almost completely silent for what felt like months. It was maybe only a few weeks (or maybe even a week), but I remember gaining power by presenting myself as mysterious – to make others uncomfortable instead of me. To make them fill the air with their silly, meaningless words. I couldn’t be hurt if I didn’t let anyone in.
I survived those many awkward days of watching all the girls around me get their periods and make out with boys. I’d had neither experience, and it left me feeling both alienated and yet grateful. Both sounded wholly unpleasant.
It wasn’t until right before I started my freshman year of high school that I officially crossed over into womanhood. I called my mother, relieved and gleeful that I was now part of her club.
And soon thereafter, I caught a first glimpse of my budding sexual prowess. My hips had bloomed literally over one summer, leaving a few light stretch marks on each hip. I’d had my friend Rhonda over to stay the night, and as I lay there in the living room in my undies and t-shirt – blanket deliberately but inconspicuously eschewed – I knew my older brother’s friend might walk through and sneak a peak of me. I knew he liked me. Even after I’d given him that bloody nose…
– Part 3 coming soon –