Ever since I can remember I have always gone against the tide. I looked to the sun and answered to a higher calling. My parents will tell you that I am an old soul, that I wear my heart on my selve, and that my zest for life is addictive. That I have always looked out for my fellow-man, cried tears for the less fortunate, and believed that the under dogs would one day fly.
Ya know my parents are right. I grew up in a narrow-minded river town. One that thrived on rumors, turned out shoes, and kicked you in the gut if you were different. I was a biracial girl growing up in a one color town, I was a child with ADD taught by those who couldn’t see my potential, and mostly I was a girl who wanted to be left alone. I recently received a Facebook friend request from my high school bully. I was taken back, the memories shot through my mind like fire to the prairie. All of the pain I buried rose to the surface. I quickly threw my iPhone to the floor (thank God I have an otter box) and feverishly started cleaning my stove. I chose to leave it. I didn’t hit confirm or deny, I just left her hanging in the wind.
You see Sara grew up just around the corner from me and for some reason it was her goal to make my life miserable. High school was the worst, she would tell people that I was poor, that I was ugly, stupid, dirty, and so on. Teachers they ignored the insults that flung across the isle, they turned their heads, as I held back the tears. I finally had enough at the end of ninth grade, I came to my Mom in tears at my spring choir concert, My Mama vowed to make it stop. My dad on the other hand took matters into his own hands and called up her father. A meeting was set, we sat face to face our parents at our sides, and Sara proclaimed “I just want to be her friend. That’s all I want.” Lies spewed from her mouth as she tried her best to cover up her wrongs. The truth it came seeping through and she as told to leave me alone. That very moment set the tone for my high school career. Rumors flowed behind my back, people never forgot the lies she weaved and I couldn’t wait to break free.
You made fun of me for being in the FFA, for working at McDonalds and for buying my cloths at Kmart. Sara, I was never one to keep up with labels. Kmart was the only “department store” in town and well the clothes at Maurices were not my style. To this day I am still sporting my signature cardigan. (not the same ones I had in high school thou) Class, lady it never goes out of style. I wouldn’t be the leader I am today if it were not for the FFA. I am passionate about consumer driven agriculture and can often be found getting dirty in a garden. Red Wing is a farming town, lets face it Goodhue county has more livestock than people. So why not take the time to learn where our food comes from and to grow the perfect pot of petunias. Now for my getting a job in high school, see below……….
Sara, my family is far from poor. I got a job at McDonald’s during high school because I was tired of asking my parents for money. I wanted to make my own and not spend there’s. You see Sara, I grew up in town and spent my weekends at my family’s country house. Three cars lined our driveway, one of them is a 69 mustang that hasn’t seen the light of day in years. My Mom and Dad always made sure that my sister and I had everything and anything we wanted. In hind sight they were probably to good to us. Because now my sister and I need a support group for spoiled child syndrome. One lesson my parents taught me has always stuck with me an that is: “those who have money hide it and those that don’t flaunt it.”
I don’t spend my days keeping up with the Jones, I never have and I never will. You tried so hard to break my spirit and to knock me down the mountain. Your insults were my ammunition, each one whispered made me work harder. I knew my mind would be my ticket out of that backwater town. I cried in my mom’s arms, my diploma in my hand, not because I was sad, but because I was finally fucking free of you. I no longer had to see your face every day. I no longer had to put up with the whispers, I was finally fucking free.
Darling, I stretched my wings and I aimed higher than you could ever dream. I picked a college that I knew no one from Red Wing would attend. In Superior I came into my own, in Superior I discovered my voice, I found my grace, and mostly I shined. Through the hallowed halls I walked studying the laws that built our country. Dr. Cuzzo she helped me realize that I had the power to change the world. She’d tell me “never stop, you are so bright.” That was the first time a teacher ever told me I was bright. In her eyes I didn’t have ADD stamped on my forehead instead my intelligence pushed through.
Sara in the past 13 years I have set foot on three continents, got married, survived a stroke, lost a child, got divorced, dined with politicians, danced in the rain, and loved like I was dying. My voice is helping raise awareness about strokes in young women. I pounded the pavement in DC, crisscrossed the country lobbying for a better day, and took a moment to look into my nieces eyes. I have gone further than you will ever go. For you see I no longer fear the label you placed on me. You were right Sara I am different, I am so different from you that I am extraordinary. It takes an incredible amount of courage to stand up and to fight back.
Because of you Sara I strived to change the world and to make it a better place. Mostly I strove to return one day and walk up to you and say “Fuck you, fuck all of you” and then proceed to walk out of our high school reunion. Which I was totally going to do. However I decided that you weren’t worth my time. You see Sara you no longer have power and I will never mark my word be your friend. Not on Facebook and defiantly not in real life.
Different is beautiful and remember whose toes you step on because you just might have to bend down and kiss their ass one day!
AJ–what an awesome blog. I was terribly bullied and can completely relate. Thanks for an inspiring blog story. I don’t want my bullies to have me, either.