A Monday back in Middle School

My room is like a little cave. It’s small, cool, and really dark. When the blinds are drawn, I have a hard time deciphering the time of day. Monday, I rolled over to a rainy, dreary morning in my cave-room. I had the window open for some fresh air, and the plink-plink of rain hitting the a/c unit woke me up, instead of my alarm. I opened my eyes, imagining them to look as gray as the world outside my grotto. (clarification: my eyes appear to change color based on surrounding hues).

I was awash in the grey day, but I wasn’t drowning in it. Weather like that gets me thinking, it encourages my brain to stretch; not in a nihilistic way, not in an attempt at a revolving door of self-pity. Instead… I think, and I feel… and I don’t try to solve the equation…

When I was 14 years old, I had a humanities teacher named Mrs. Brandt. Come the end of the school year, she had a unique gift for all of her graduating 8th graders: she assigned them a single word. She didn’t explain her choices, she didn’t contextualize them. She gave it to you and that was that. She was all business. When she came to me, she said, “[L’s], your word is… unflappable.” I was touched… well, I incorporated as much emotional maturity into that reaction as a barely pubescent teenager could. I looked it up in my parent’s giant Webster’s dictionary when I got home that afternoon:

un·flap·pa·ble adjective \-ˈfla-pə-bəl\

: not easily upset : unusually calm in difficult situations :  marked by assurance and self-control

I stared at the page for a long time. In those days, I didn’t talk to my teachers all that much. I tried to figure out why she had given me that word… after all, how well did she really know me? I didn’t understand her inspiration, and looking back part of me still doesn’t. Me at 14? I was a basketcase! I can only surmise that she saw something in me, some trait that was yet to be unleashed. Perhaps it already had?

I went through a bully phase in middle school, like most teenagers. I was the butt of ridicule, and it sucked. The popular girl in our class, who had been my friend a year before, decided that she no longer cared for my company. Unfortunately, like most idiotic teenagers, she handled her dislike by magnifying it like a virus under microscopic scrutiny and spread it to whomever she could convince to harness the same disdain. Every day felt like a walk through a mine field. At one point, one of her cronies (I harbor no ill-will today, don’t get me wrong, but the moniker fits for this particular scenario) brought rabbit poop (I SHIT YOU NOT, haha) from her pet’s cage to put in my chair during class. I was the last to know about floods of rumors circulating the halls about me, and I had mutual friends apologetically sympathize with me, only to accept the birthday party invitations they inevitably got from my “nemesis.” I reiterate, it sucked. But even considering that profound period of turmoil (which, even as a 14 year old, I realized must have seemed minuscule to an adult), I didn’t get it. After all, I didn’t feel that I handled the crucible with much aplomb. I stumbled through it, crying and angry, like I had spent most of my adolescence. So why? How?? How could she know? And even if she had known, how was that her takeaway??

I don’t know. I don’t think I ever will. All I can apply is retrospect:

Like an ever-turbulent sea, I will never just be. Not always. I am, and will always be, a moody motherfucker. As quick to sunshine and rainbows as a dark and stormy night, I’m sure I give some people emotional whiplash. But maybe it’s like Forrest Gump’s assessment of life and how we get through it:

Forrest: (talking to Jenny’s grave) “Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

All I know is now, another 14 years later, I still remember that. It was burned into my memory. I remember sitting at my desk, waiting for my turn, mesmerized by the profound atmosphere in which I was enveloped. I remember how abnormally silent it was; no quiet snickers or notes being passed. I remember asking her to spell it so that I could look it up that afternoon, in my parents’ giant Webster’s dictionary. I remember reading that definition with as yet inexplicable gratitude.

Current Jams, two-fold for lyrical reasons:

“Shimmer,” Fuel

She says that love is for fools who fall behind
And I’m somewhere between
I never really know a killer from a savior
‘Til I break at the bend.
 

“Dog” Lemuria

I feel like you’ve died, and I want you back
But I know that I will never see you again.
 
Walkin’ around tryin’ to keep my mouth shut
While the pity piles up
While the pity piles up
 
Like a goddamn dog, with his tail between his legs
Ashamed of trying to butter up your obituary
 
At least I can say I tried with you
At least I can say I tried with you

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