I sat in our family’s van crying in protest. “Please don’t make me go, please Momma. I can’t make friends again. We’ll move soon anyways, please Momma. I can’t do this.” My mom took my hand softly, trying to calm me. “We won’t be moving honey and you have to go to school. You have to try. We don’t have any other options Lace. It’s the first day for everyone and you won’t be the only new person, that should be comforting.” Comforting? Really mom? No, not feeling that emotion now. I sat in the van trying to dry my tears, prolonging the inevitable long walk to the office where I would get my class schedule and map of the campus. I didn’t want to start over. I didn’t even know if my body could handle going to school, it couldn’t 2 years ago…
It was drizzling misty rain as I walked ever-so-slowly to the main office. I gave the woman my name and she handed me my class schedule and the map. “Welcome to Lake Stevens High School, Lacey. Please let us know if you need anything today, we’re here to help!” Ugh, she was so chipper. I thanked her without making eye contact as I stared at my classes, walking toward door.
First up, Physical Education. GYM!? No, this wasn’t right. Oh great! I should have turned and told the plump, chipper lady that I can’t take gym but I didn’t think she’d believe me. No teen wants to take P.E. and I looked totally “normal”. I didn’t want to cause a stir while the office was full of other new students and bustling staff. The last thing I wanted was to draw attention to myself. So I left the office and headed to gym class. Lucky for me it was only the course orientation and nothing was expected from me physically that day. I was removed from P.E. the following week when they found a place for me elsewhere; the attendance office with the plump chipper lady.
The first day went by fine, lonely and long but fine nonetheless. It wasn’t until a week later that a girl in my English class noticed my last name and told me it sounded really familiar to her. I don’t know why it did, I’d never seen her before in my life until I came to this class. The next day she came to English class armed with a wealth of history, history her and I shared…and a picture of the two of us in adorable Rainbow outfits (kind of like girl scouts but in miniature form). As soon as I saw this picture I fully remembered who she was to me. Our families had attended the same church when we were little girls and their family happened to be the neighbors of my grandparents’ life-long friends. We had spent countless childhood hours together. I remembered playing dolls with her, being at rainbows together, eating popsicles on her Grandma’s porch…she was my first friend. Wow, miniscule word much!?
Upon catching up with her, she invited me to join her at lunch and meet some of her friends. I was excited! I really hoped I could reconnect with my first friend and make friends with these other girls. And I did.
It wasn’t long before I was accepted as one of the girls, there were 12 of us give or take a few. We were an awesome group, self-named “The Lake Posse”. Every girl was attractive, all of us had a unique quality to contribute and held a level of popularity around the school. Even I had gained some popularity at school soon after joining the group of girls, and it felt nice to be liked.
I know what you are thinking. Something along the lines of the female characters from that movie “Mean Girls”. No, we weren’t “plastic”, we weren’t mean or overly conceited. Well maybe 1 or 2 of them, but nothing cruel. We were fun girls, some of us a little more crazy than others but we were all nice girls; accepting of all types of people. Sure we had our “mean girl” moments when a fellow friend needed some backing-up, but that’s just friendship if you ask me.
I even got my first real boyfriend that year. He was an instant crush since the first day of school and the day he became my boyfriend, I thought I had one the life lottery. Oh how I loved him! I had never felt that way about a guy before, I truly did love him. Well, as much as a 14-year-old knows about love and what it is, I felt all that.
Everyone in my life was understanding of my muscle issues. No one ever questioned the validity of my illness, although they made it quite clear that they missed me when I’d be absent from school and I should “work on that”. Haha, they were wonderful. I did my best to manage my disorder but high school was very demanding on my body. I think the key reason I passed the 9th grade was because of my awesome group of girlfriends and that special guy. Knowing I had these people to meetup with really drove me to push on and find a way to operate through the pain. And I did more often than not.
I have countless memories from my freshman year, it was my favorite year of high school. In fact, it’s one of the favorite years of my life. When I think back I don’t remember pain or other physical struggles, although they were ever-present. All I can think of is how much I loved my life in Lake Stevens. I loved the family I had nearby (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins). I loved the friendships I made. I loved the rain and the smell it would leave in the air long after it had stopped. I loved Seattle and the diversity of people the city drew in. I loved the beauty of Washington, all the nature that surrounded me was breathtaking. Sure my family struggled financially but money is irrelevant to me when love is so abundant. I didn’t care that we were living in the projects, I would have been extremely happy living in Washington for the rest of my life. Washington is home to me, it always had been and it always will be. I truly hoped we would stay there. Of course, that wasn’t the case.
My dad took a job in Meridian, Idaho two weeks before I was to start the 10th grade. I was heartbroken. My girlfriends wanted to send me off in a happy way, so they threw me a surprise going away party. The boy my heart would always belong to as well as every friend I loved showed up. Each one of them gave me a special gift that represented a memory we had shared together. They even made me a scrapbook full of all the fun memories we had shared as a group. They truly were amazing friends…how would I ever replace them? I gave them all tearful hugs, hating that this would be the last one we’d share for a while. I lingered in the embrace of the guy who was no longer my boyfriend but that I would love for years to come…and said goodbye. I didn’t know when I would be back again, but I was determined to not let these relationships disappear.
We packed up everything once again and relocated our lives back to Idaho. This time I was not welcoming or understanding of the move. I was angry and more sad than I ever had been. I left my heart in Lake Stevens with everyone I loved. I was completely set against making friends or setting up a new life. I hated it. Idaho sucked, the people were weird and seemed to all look the same, and I didn’t like the smell. It smelled like dust and occasionally cow poop when the wind would blow in the wrong direction. Did it ever rain here? Come to find out it did rain once in a while, but that only made the air smell like dirt, not dust. I longed for home.
Whether I wanted to or not, there I was starting the 10th grade a week late. Apparently I walked into school looking like a freak to all those around me (or at least that’s how everyone stared at me). Idaho was a bit behind on the latest trends when it came to fashion, and I was basically wearing a bright neon sign that said “New in town, make fun of me.” And they did…