Friday, August 28, 2009

My stint in Louisiana

A lot of people don't know, but I lived in Louisiana for three years. We moved to the small town of Zachary, Louisiana in 1987 (I think) and moved away in 1990. When we moved to Louisiana, school had already begun and I stepped into this world all it's own... I was in the fifth grade, and the thing I remember the most was that I would be taking French. And that scared the crap out of me. Here I was, this pudgy little preacher's girl - a Church of Christ preacher's kid at that who wasn't allowed to wear shorts to school or shave her legs yet - stepping into this classroom full of st angers who I just knew would all be speaking fluent French and laughing at me. Well, of course, the image in my head didn't prove to be entirely accurate.

Louisiana is an entirely different world, though, I will say. And I don't mean anything by that, really, so I hope no one takes offense to that statement. But people are just different there. And life is different. There are bugs and critters and creatures there that I have not seen anywhere else before. I heard languages being spoken in the grocery store that I had never heard before. It's just this melting pot, hodge podge of culture and life. And it is a very interesting place indeed.

I have reconnected (for lack of a better word) with some old friends from my stint in Louisiana through Facebook. And seeing the names and faces of people from so long ago have stirred up within me all these old emotions from my adolescence. You see, when I stepped onto the scene in fifth grade, I encountered for the first time in my life the idea of cliques. Coming from my rather small school in Montgomery, Alabama and having been the kind of child that was always friends with everyone, it was difficult for me to understand why one girl would think herself to good to talk to another. It was my first real encounter with the "haves" and the "have nots." With the cool kids and the not-so-cool kids. Unfortunately, being the outsider I was, and just not having all the right things and looking a certain way, I fell into the not-so-cool category. Those three years were full of a lot of pain for me. And I feel certain no matter where I had lived, how much money my parents had chosen to spend on my clothes, how skinny I was, or how beautiful I had been, I still would have experienced the heart aches of adolescence. But I think moving in from the outside at that pivotal age left me like an open sore to the hurts of childhood.

I wonder if those hurts ever really go away... do you ever really heal from the pain of your adolescence? I can honestly say that I react less inside to the thoughts of what I went through with my first marriage than I do when I think back to those years in Louisiana. Having a crush on this little boy named Jessee who was so ugly to me and played jokes on me at the skating rink. Being very close friends with this one girl all through fifth grade and then the next year, when we entered middle school, she wouldn't even speak to me. Starting my period in 7th grade and having it spread all over the school like wildfire and being so freaking embarrassed I wanted to die. And then there was Lakesha in my 7th grade PE class that wanted to "whoop my ass" because I was a white girl. My memory may be a little fuzzy, but these are things I will never forget. They are truly some of the hardest years of your life - when kids cross over from the sweet and innocent years into the days their true personality and character start to shine through. And that's why I have always placed such a huge emphasis on how my children treat others. I have been made fun of. I have been the nerd picked last in PE. And I don't want either one of my two children to be the one inflicting that sort of pain on anyone.

So that felt cleansing. Who knew all those feelings were still there? And don't get me wrong... I didn't eat lunch all by myself in the cafeteria. I did have friends, and they had all their teeth and could speak and all. And I had a great mom who was home every afternoon when I got out of school who listened as much as I would allow her to and really was the greatest support to me through all those years. And still is today. So don't feel too sorry for me. I think I've turned out okay.

1 comment:

Erika said...

It's kinda funny to me to read this because while I know we weren't together those years between 5th and 9th grade, I just gloss over it. I don't think about you living somewhere else and having other experiences. I don't remember us really talking about it when you came back, we just picked up where we left off. So, thank you for sharing this part of your life. :) I'm so glad, grateful, etc your family moved back to Montgomery.