However, I've tried not to let it keep me down completely so I've been working on projects for Freckled Fawn over the weekend. I've completed three so far. Can't wait to show you, but you will have to wait just a bit more. For now, here's a little sneak of one of them.
Did you get a chance to get over to Freckled Fawn and see my first project for them? Well, in case you didn't, I will urge you to visit, but I'll also show you here the fun little handwritten letter idea I shared over there. You'll have to go to FF to get the details for how it was created though.
I've been trying to think how to organize the rest of my story. I feel like this next bit may not be precisely in order, but I hope you'll bear with me if I just wonder back and forth a bit.
In some ways, this time of my life was one of the most frightening for me. Perhaps that is because I was now old enough to be aware of what was going on and the uncertainty of my position.
I finished my 6th grade year at the private school after mama's 'incident'. That summer, I turned 12 years old. Twelve is an important time in a young woman's life. The hormones are raging because puberty has hit, or at least it had for me.
There is a kind of 'coming of age' that happens during that period. A girl is becoming a woman. And yet, she's still very much a girl. Now, I realize just how important having a good father around really is. It makes a difference in how a young woman sees herself. Without the direction of an intentional father, I just bumbled about and tried to be what I thought people wanted me to be.
With mom's issues, I tried to spend as little time at home as possible and diligently searched out any opportunity to be away that I could grasp onto.
The neighbor to the south proved the easiest target. I'd played with the oldest son since I was quite small. His name was Gavin. He was still smaller than me, at 10 years old, with a thatch of the thickest, darkest hair of anyone I knew and piercing, nearly black eyes.
Gavin was about as desperate for company as I was. There really weren't many other kids in the area where we lived. Or at least not any kids that would play with the likes of us. Both of us were from rather unorthodox families. In his case, his family moved back and forth between this house and one somewhere in New York every year or so. He never could seem to make many connections.
If you add to that the fact that his father was physically abusive; a yelling, drinking, chain-smoking, shirtless, shiftless sort of fellow, you'd get the picture. At this point in time, he was shackin' up with Gavin's aunt, having tossed aside his wife and Gavin's mother, Charlotte, for her younger and more impressionable sister Nina. (there's a whole other story there, but I'll save that one for later)
So, unlikely as it might have been, Gavin and I became quite good friends. We explored the woods, climbed trees, visited all those same spots that Celia and I had discovered. We argued like any friends would. I think that for both of us, the chance to get out of our suffocating homes and with people who weren't criticizing was a blessing.
However, we did spend some time at Gavin's home. I'd spend the night occasionally, or just be over during the day. Gavin's house was the second place I'd seen pornography. His father had quite a collection of magazines and various erotica books. As curious kids will, Gavin and I would sneak in and look at it from time to time.
It didn't become something we did constantly, but I do believe it had an effect. I can't say how it spoke to Gavin, but for me, it solidified an idea that had grown in my mind due to previous experience: that women were to be used for sex. It wasn't a conscious thought at that time, but now, I can see how it was the idea that my mind held about my role in the world.
However, at that time, I was oblivious to how such things would affect me. I was just a carefree adolescent trying to find ways to enjoy life, make friends and see whether I had 'what it took'.
Since dad was no longer in town, he didn't think he should continue paying for my tuition at the private school. Mama was scarcely able to make enough money to keep food on the table or clothing on our bodies and so back to the public school arena I went.
I wasn't altogether unhappy about that idea. In my mind, there were likely to be more opportunities for friends with the bigger school. Since I'd had the surgery on my eye's to straighten my gaze, I was sure the students would accept me just like any other student.
What I found was that kids have an amazing memory. My thinking was that I looked enough different that everyone would see who I was and accept me. They'd see that I looked pretty normal and be willing to take a chance. I think I've always been pretty optimistic that way. I'd grown up, got a new hairdo, I was wearing make-up. I'd even secretly shaved my legs!! (yep, it was rebellion, my mother had told me not to, but I did it anyway. And yes, I paid the price of a dry shave. Ouch!)
But once again, I was wrong. The first day of school, I ran into my old nemesis, a pint size, adolescent boy named Jordan. Jordan was at least six inches shorter than me and looked like he was about 8 years old. But Jordan had 'it'. He had 'cool kid' status. Jordan had designer jeans and name-brand shoes and a stylin' haircut. And, all the other cool kids followed him around because he was THE one to impress.
I never had a chance.
Jordan was a bully. Jordan remembered me. And Jordan was in every single one of my classes.
How such a small kid could maintain bully status I'll never understand, but he'd had it since 1st grade and he wasn't letting it go. I walked into the halls of 7th grade so sure I was going to like this new adventure. What I was greeted with was 'Hey, Cross-Eye'd Monkey is back!!!'. You guessed it, that old moniker was courtesy of Jordan.
And that is a pretty strong indicator of how the rest of 7th grade went.