When I first got into high school, I tried to fit in. It was like dressing in costume everyday. When I look back at pictures of me trying to be a girl, it’s like seeing me in drag, but without a drag queens sense of style. I wore make-up and let my mom help me pick out clothes at the JC Penny store and thought for a while that I might be able to do it, might be able to fake it enough to make it.
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t fool the kids at school any more than I could fool myself. In fact, I think the only person who was fooled was my mom, who desperately wanted to believe that I was coming out of my tomboy phase and entering the phase of ‘young womanhood’. My mom was quite a dreamer.
School kids aren’t very kind when they sense insecurity and I was a bundle of it when I entered my freshman year with carefully coiffed hair and laboriously applied make-up and some blousy thing featuring pink. God, hard to even replay the memory.
On the bus into school, I kept my head down, reading a book. One of my few bus friends sat next to me and looked as nervous as I was. She glanced at me and asked what classes I had but mostly sat quietly staring at her lunch sack.
Once inside the halls, I was already sweating from the nerves made worse by the fact that I was having trouble with my locker combination. The day was a blur of getting lost in the unfamiliar hallways and having to listen to my given name used by every teacher and snickered at by most of the students. People had been calling me ‘Buddy’ since I was a in grade school. The worst thing, though, was people I’d known since kindergarten acting like they didn’t recognize me.
“Well, hello there.. are you new to the area?” came the high mocking voice of Mary Pleasant (who was anything but).
“Oh my god, a new girl in our school, what’s your name, honey?” that was Cheri Bordeaux, one of Mary’s disciples in all things bitchy and superior.
I glared at them and slammed my locker shut, storming away in the opposite direction of my class.
“Well, that’s not very lady like is it, Cheri?”
“No, Mary, she’s got a lot to learn about being a lady, that’s for sure.”
I stuck with it for about a week, god knows why, but one day I came home and threw all the make-up away. I took all the girly clothing and shoved it into bags in the back of my closet. I pulled on my jeans and a t-shirt and threw myself on my bed with a huge sigh of relief. I was done with the girl thing, it never felt right and no one was gonna believe my costuming anyway. Big waste of time and money.
At dinner that night my mom looked at me and pursed her lips but said nothing.
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