Prompt: I remember…
(from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg)
I remember when I was in 8th grade and it was Christmastime. My whole class was at this crafts fair they held every year in the cafeteria. There were crafts sold, as well as decorations and all types of gifts. I was sitting at a table across from the popular girl in class.
One of the boys in our class came up behind her and put a fake, gold necklace around her neck. She was surprised but didn’t even acknowledge him or look up from her conversation with the person next to her. The necklace was one of those that best friends buy for each other where there’s a heart pendant broken into two pieces, and each person wears the necklace with one half of the heart. Inscribed on the heart pendant were the words ‘best friend.’
He put it on her and she barely noticed. I remember feeling so insignificant, small and invisible. Here I was, thinking how happy and grateful I would be to have a thoughtful friend buy me a gift like that and actually put it on me, but I was sitting alone. And I just watched what happened. She took it for granted and it made me upset and a bit angry.
I thought, if it were me, I would be happy and laughing and cherish that necklace as a sign of acceptance and affection. In the 8th grade I pretended I had a whole group of friends outside of school and didn’t need to waste time getting to know my classmates. They kind of shunned me anyway, because I was always just weird, the nerd, the valedictorian. I wasn’t cool like this girl was.
I wasn’t stylish or fashionable or allowed to hang out much after school. But she was. Her mother died when we were in the 6th grade and that was a rough year for her and the rest of our class. We all attended the funeral and felt so badly for her. She was raised by her grandmother.
So while I was there at the crafts fair, feeling jealous that she had friends and I didn’t, I should have realized that I was lucky enough to still have my mother and my family for support. Something so incredibly important when you are just 13 years old.
I guess we all get a raw deal somewhere. No one’s life is all smooth sailing all the time. That’s a bitter pill to swallow. But we must all leave the comfort and security of childhood at some point, and learn how to make our own way in the world. I don’t know that I have learned that yet. I still have a long way to go.
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