Time to divert from all things grammatical (my previous posts) with another blast from my past — a very short (i.e. blog-length) story.
It was the second week of second grade. I made my way out onto the playground, eager to find new friends among my classmates. Most were still open to new acquaintances, although some cliques had already become well established. The playground was large and spacious, and at first I just wandered, watching idly from a distance while gauging the available activities and the people involved in them, looking for a safe place to plug in.
Heat from the sun poured down onto my head and shoulders, and the great oak trees on the far side of the playground held the promise of cool — or at least cooler — shade. As I made my way there, I noticed a gaggle of girls giggling amongst themselves as they milled amongst the massive roots exposed by erosion. This particular group was not normally the safest to approach, and my decision to do so was perhaps somewhat naively based on the fact that I recognized a few of my friends standing within it. As I silently arrived on the fringe and attempted to listen in on whatever was so terribly funny, a scrawny little girl with red pigtails looked up at me sharply.
“This is the jelly-shoes-only club!” she quipped, and the group paused with a collective gasp. I looked down at my brand-new, still-shiny tennis shoes that my mother had so proudly bought me, and I frowned. But then I remembered another pair of shiny new shoes sitting in my closet that I had simply happened not to wear that day.
“I wore jelly-shoes yesterday,” I said, thinking how I was exactly the same person as I had been the day before. “Y’all are dumb.”
Another collective gasp followed me as I walked away. Some — but not many — came with me. We formed the who-cares-what-shoes-you-wear club.
Even jelly-shoes were allowed.
Do you have a childhood memory around acceptance/rejection? What was the strongest part of the memory that really made it stand out to you? Was it how you were feeling at the time, something you saw, someone who influenced you? For me, it was the realization that who I was didn’t change when my shoes did. What was it for you?