Thursday, February 21, 2013
And you'll see me, somebody new!
Eighth grade was a big one for me. I went from a school of about 50 kids in my grade to over 1000 eighth graders. A lot of kids would hate that jump in numbers, but it's where I found myself. In seventh grade, I had been surrounded by kids who had known me since I was 5, kids who had judged me by my inability to play kickball and my social awkwardness. I had been picked on relentlessly by a group of boys that thought it was hilarious to make the shy girl cry. In later years, there would be a few a would reconnect with, but, at the time, my primary goal of the eighth grade was to avoid ever single one of those assholes.
When you have a sea of 1000 kids to disappear into, it's pretty easy to avoid 50. I stopped being so shy because I had decided that it was no fun. I fight my shyness almost every day, but in the eighth grade, I fought it like it was my job, and I was rewarded with friends and a new life. I couldn't have been happier.
The only downside was the bus. My bus route picked up primarily kids from grade school, of course, and I would get on and hope no one would even notice me. Luckily, we lived fairly close to the school, so most days we were on for barely enough time to get settled into a seat. This was fine by me. I was so sure someone would expose me, which, looking back, was a ridiculous fear. I wasn't the only one who had found new friends, new groups to hang out with, a new way of being. We were all scattered into the pool of 1000.
But there was that day. Honestly, I can't remember the details. It had probably snowed some and there was ice and snow. They probably should have cancelled school, but they didn't. The big yellow bus full of eighth graders lugged around back roads that hadn't been plowed, and the drive that should have taken less than 10 minutes was pushing an hour. We inched along, kids got restless, it felt like we'd never get to school. We had time on the bus to reconnect and become what we were a year ago. I was almost in a panic. We couldn't get to the school soon enough.
And then, a few blocks from the school, a group of kids started singing. "At first I was afraid, I was terrified..." Gradually, more kids started singing along. We had gone our separate ways, but we all could sing along. I loved this so much because it was joyful and fun and everyone knew we were being a bit ridiculous, but it was beautiful. We pulled into the school parking lot, pumping our fists to the "Hey! Hey!" of the song. Other buses were also late, the other kids looking bored and restless, but we were all lifted that day.