I returned home in my khaki Bermuda shorts and my Cat in the Hat T-shirt, and I sat down to read a Cheetah Girls book — one that I’ve been meaning to read since 2nd grade. I vaguely recall a group of four of the ostensible “popular” boys and girls walking behind my mom’s black Jeep, that she still owns to this day. She’s had that car since I was in first grade. Keep in mind, that I am a fifth year in college. She got that car when I was 7.5, and I am on the verge of turning 24.
I remember because English, Science, and Geography were my favorite subjects. I hated math with all my being. I feel half my heart burning, at this moment in writing this, the Screwdriver I had, makes me stop and think, “you are not that girl, anymore.” I am not that girl anymore because I’ve grown to have respect for myself when I felt like no one liked me. That’s the most powerful form of love — self-love.
Though my hair may not be washed at this present moment, and I am settling for movies that don’t even satisfy me, like “Jumanji,” I’m sorry but that movie doesn’t inspire me. I turn to a movie on E! called “She’s All That,” where Laney tells the pathetic class president that their little moment on the corner of two streets is “surreal,” meaning their meeting could never happen in real life. It makes me angry, times like these movies were made. Even when “Hairspray,” the 2008 version was made, I hated that time. It was more or less ahead of that time because John Travolta played a woman — fat suit and all. Laney, on the other hand, is a beautiful young woman who is forced to become the most popular girl in school. The fact of the matter is, she’s already beautiful. The only thing that “doesn’t,” is that she “runs like a girl,” she wears glasses, and she is smart. What’s wrong with those? By the way, she is a girl.
Even when my 32-year-old brother was a high schooler, it made me angry, the dynamic that he grew up with. I didn’t know what that pinging was in my chest at the time, but I know now, that was anger. I was dumbfounded when I found out that his best friend was killed by a drunk driver in 2004. My hairdresser by the time I turned 15, was his classmate, prior to her moving to another school. I found out that my hairdresser was bullied because “she didn’t dress ‘rich.'” But my brother liked her because she was funny. To me, he was the coolest guy in Medfield, Massachusetts. Yes, that’s where I grew up and moved out of, thankfully. I even remember when his friend said, “she’s so shy, she can’t even say hi,” at their “prom party.”
I remember, in 2009, when I went to my first two middle school dances, I wore a red dress. Those two dresses were different, of course. I remember a lot of guys staring at me, the night of December 2nd, 2009. That was when, as Carrie Bradshaw would say, “I got the knack for labels early,” as that dress was from Arden B. Even though I had developed a “passion for fashion,” I felt like I had been gifted the “Ghosts of April’s past.” I don’t know who would have visited/haunted me, but they surely came at later dates.
I found that one scene in “She’s All That” when the supposed popular girl said, “you’re a waste of yearbook space. You’re not gonna cry are you?” And I recall in just 3rd grade when a girl said, “your pilgrim’s house is weird. And you’re weird too. April, are you sad?” all in consecutive order, no pause in-between. To which I say, now, even though that person just may have changed:
Read Mia (Anne Hathaway’s) quote real carefully, “someday I just might grow out of that, but you, you will never stop being a jerk.”
What I could say to middle-schoolers, in this moment in time, it does get better. Some people move on to other schools, some people are luckier than that. I have people tell me, “you’re lucky you were strong enough to get out.” They’re right, I was. But that has NOT diminished my self-worth.
And don’t worry about my mom’s car. Its longevity does not make me ostensibly “rude” just for sticking up for myself.