High school was a fresh start for me. I had struggled the last two years of middle school as the new kid from the East Coast who never quite fit in. I was determined to make the first move and make my way into the “in” crowd. No more teasing or shaky friendships for me, I was going to be accepted.
My first class was typing and I was sat next to a polo shirt khaki clone of my own new outfit, complete with butterfly clips and Adidas sneakers. This was my chance! I explained my situation, I was new to this school and was in search of a lunch group. The doe eyed girl caught my hook for an invitation and I was set to find her in the quad a few hours later. Brilliant work, super causal, not desperate at all.
When I would later see Heathers, I would think back to how I easily identified my lunch companions. They had the individuality of a school of fish. Big breath in, I could do this, I could suppress the strangeness that had me eating by myself most of last year. I figured it would be best to listen today, pick up their habits, and then play it off as shy. A covert mission to infiltrate their kind. Then it happened, I was directly addressed! She had to repeat what she said as I all could hear was the disgust in her voice the first time.
“Why would you sit like THAT?”
“With your legs crossed under you like that. The dirt – it is getting all over your shoes. Don’t you care?”
I really did not care, they were shoes, shoes are suppose to get dirty so you feet don’t. Was I completely missing something here? I was then privy to a lecture on how the offending dirt would transfer from the ground to my shoes and on to my pants. Of all things, my pants would get dirt on them! There have been many moments where my inability to conceal how little I give a shit has caused my life to change course, this was one of those times. Teen blasphemy escaped my lips and I let them know that if I was to sit on the ground, it was fully expected that I might get dirty. No one talked to me again and the bell was a welcome sound.
I did not have the maturity to see the clarity of that experience until much later or laugh about it when I saw Mean Girls in my 20s. But what I did feel was not the rejection I had expected. I was surprised that I had rejected them and not the other way around. These were not my people and it was not my fault or theirs. I could not be friends with people like that. If a bit of dirt on your new shoes was a stress point, I did not see camping trips or picnics in our future. Instead I let friendships build naturally in high school out of kindness and mutual excitement. I have memories of bonfires on the beach, midnight hikes surrounded by eucalyptus, red noses from skiing, mosh pit born bruises, sticky dive bar pizza counters, and hot tubs filled with bubbles. I have a pair of black hi-top converse with red laces that carried me across our patch California that I would never call clean. I did not know yet I was on a spiritual path towards nature but the earth kept me grounded in myself when I needed her most to become me.
(number 61 on the pagan blog project week 9)