My trip has started! Today I went many places with my friends I am staying with, one of them took us past the place that I went to school between 2nd and 7th grade. I had a hard time in this school, for pretty much all of the time that I was there. I was short, chubby, and I had zero interest in sports. It was a small backwater school, and my constant reading and excelent grades did not sit well with my fellow students.
There had always been the stupid school bullshit that happens to the odd kids, the harassment and the cliques that I never fit into, nor did I have any interest in fitting into them. I saw no need to try to become something I wasnt. I watched the children that tried to fit themselves into the mold, and they werent treated much better than I. So I did my thing, they did theirs, and occationally I made friends and spent most of my time alone with books.
In 7th grade, things changed. I am sure that the onset of puberty had something to do with it, and the fact that I as always, was smaller and weaker. It started small at first, the harassment turning physical, shoves and pushes replaceing the words and hard stares of earlier years. It quickly escelated, as they got more emboldened. There were 7 of them, a gang of sorts. They were the ones that had most often paid to copy my homework oddly enough, and probably resented the fact that I wouldnt let them copy it for free.
It would happen before school, as most of the kids arrived early. They would come at me like a pack of wild dogs, quietly where the adults could see, but once they finally got me behind one of the buildings it was a free for all. The first time I didnt really know what was happening, until it was halfway done, and by that point it was too late to fight. Six of them pinned me, while another brought a roll of duct tape out of his bag, and they taped me into a mini-mummy, then tossed me behind one of the buildings and made their way to class. I got up, got the tape off and went into class.
The fear in their eyes as I walked into the class ten minutes late was palapable when the teacher asked where I had been. I mumbled some answer, and sat down. Their fear turned to smug glee that I had said nothing. They thought me broken, but in reality I was just not a person to run to an adult when something happened. Too independant mom had always said, and maybe she was right.
This scene was repeated in the following months, each encounter more violent. I fought like a cat on crack, no fair fight as I aimed for eyeballs and nut sacks, but one child versus six is no contest, especially when they were all taller than me by at least a foot. Looking back on it, I am surprised that they didnt kill me, I hit and kicked as hard as I could, and the worst it got was me banged up, taped up, and tossed down.
We had a covered play area, for in Washington it rains a lot and the childrens need someplace to play in the winter. In the middle of this building was a teatherball pole and on this particular morning, there were no recess aides to be found. This time they came at me, they pinned me, and they taped me up to that teatherball poll, while all of the other children watched. One of the bullys girlfriends took the opportunity to run up and use her lipstick to write all over my face.
13 years old, taped to a pole with my feet not touching the ground, face covered in lipstick, and not a single person raised their voice in protest. It seems now in my minds eye, that there was an endless ocean of children silently watching, while i know that in reality it was more like 50 or so kids. Me staring at them, staring at me. Finally, one little girl ran up with a pair of scissors and said “Someone is coming!” laughter turned to fear yet again, and I was cut down. No one was really coming, the little one was just trying to help.
I stripped the tape off of myself for the last time, stared at them all, and walked into the building to wash myself up. To this day I dont know why, but that was the last time they messed with me, and shortly thereafter we moved, and I was free of that place. I look back, and wonder that I never said anything to any adult. I wonder, where in the hell were the teachers? How did anyone not know this was happening?
I dont hate them anymore, and I wonder if any of them would even remember the events of that year. Those are awkward years for any child, I often wonder how any of us make it out as decent human beings.
It was a good day today, ghosts and all. My childhood was fucking weird, though I suppose they are all weird in their own ways. Today I climbed on a waterfall in the Olympic National Forest. I saw the worlds largest spruce tree, it is over a thousand years old. I watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, the rays of the sun reaching thru the clouds as a sea gull soared past me. I smiled.
Memories are funny things.