The Transition from Student to Writer: #1: Stopped in Shallow Tracks
I’m culling through a folder of stuff I’ve written in school. Heaven knows I’ve taken plenty of writing classes, written plenty of assignment peices and free-write peices. It’s taken me awhile to get out of that essay-voice mode, to be more personal. This blog helps.
I wrote this in a young adult lit class. I took the class because I wanted to learn how to more effectively write in the YA genre; it turned out to be a class to learn how to teach school. Still, it turned out some interesting work. This still has a bit of the essay-voice in it, though I’ve tried to reduce it.
I walk out of the cafeteria doors and into the sunshine. It’s always a stark contrast, the sunlight and the florescent lighting, but I hide my weakness to adjust to the light; I’m in middle school now, no longer weak, no longer wearing turtlenecks and big, plastic frames around my eyes. I have a chance to make new friends, to enter into the circle I’ve always wanted to belong to.
I catch up to the row of girls as they strut down the sidewalk in front of the school to the courtyard where all the world mingles at lunch. I’ve finished my bag of Funyuns and my can of Coke with them, just like them, talking of this and that and whatever comes to their minds, and we’re now walking. I’m on the end, the street end, but I don’t particularly care. I’m concentrating on a lightning-quick act of see-and-adjust-to-match. I hope that when I’ve entered the circle, I can slacken into a not-so-rigorous habit, and, in that circle of friends, they’ll accept those habits as cool and adopt them as their own.
I keep up my end of the row, not slackening or going ahead. I bring out my compact, a pretty maroon that I’m proud of, and dab powder on while listening disdainfully yet actively, to their idle conversation. I offer my opinion, my interejection, my contribution to the conversation, and their heads all swing towards me.
Still in constant motion, I feel like I have stepped in front of them, walked a few steps forward, and stopped, letting their eyes excavate into the fibers of my skin like a detergent commercial. I can feel the windows of the front of the school staring at me too, whispering to each other like an audience full of teenagers at a play that has just halted. They wonder: “What’s going to happen to her? What’s taking so long? Why don’t they decide instead of just staring? We’re surprised she hasn’t collapsed into a heap in front of us.”
The girl standing next to me, gives the opinion of her circle. “You’re weird.” And they keep walking, in sudden agreement, in their perfect row, continuing their wandering conversation.
I am stunned. I AM weird. That fact alone blocks me out of this circle of people, and it hurts me that my goal is suddenly and completely declared unattainable. The newfound fact that weirdness is in my nature and I can’t hide it, even when I’m trying so very hard, blocks out the aftermath of the incident.
I might have walked with them, after shrugging to the declaration, spending the rest of the lunch with them, distant and unconnected. I might have excused myself, through the doors that stand next to the windows and invite me into the building and into reclusion. I might have slipped away, unnoticed, back into the hum of people packed under florescent lights, to be lost in the crowd. I might have been left in the dust the lightbulb above my head reveals until I realize I’m standing alone.
I cannot, through probing my memory, find which alternate ending is the right one, because the girl I was then is not the girl I am today. I cannot pick one that is most likely to be the one I would most do.
I did find a group of friends, much to my relief. We were all weird together, and I learned to rejoice in our weirdness, both individually and collectively. Still today, every once in a while, I have someone make that same declaration: “You’re weird.” I laugh; I have embraced the fact, and thus become more confident, more light-hearted, more artistic. I accept my weirdness partly because it’s in my blood. My dad is weird, and he’s passed it on to each of his children; it rubs off on our mother, and each of us have accepted it in a different way. I take my weirdness and make it part of my identity, and funny things come from it.
Each person I know is an artist is some way, and most of the time, they’re theatre people, because theatre people are all not quite right. They’re kinda weird and crazy, every last one of them.
I care less about those looks, and sometimes, I do these things to get those looks. It fits, and I like that it fits; I have the popular circle to thank for it.