Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Where my love of writing stems, the soil is very dark


I started writing to get away from my peers. Just like any student in a minefield of adolescent decay, a notebook was my saving grace. Without it, I probably would've killed myself. In all seriousness. It was a constant thought bubble I had throughout junior high.

Middle school was unkind to me. I was ostracized, and I don't even know why. It started out, and the kids thought they were being so funny, with being called a "girl."

I didn't have a lot of guy friends, only one or two, really. I hung out with mainly females when I was younger. So, this being called a "girl" seemed fitting, I suppose. And then, they changed my name to Evelyn. There was no certificate, but I was baptized in the river of their cruelty.

That cruel river flowed darker by sixth grade, and it turned into black rapids. From Evelyn came the words "gay" and "fag." Constantly. There wasn't a day those words were not whispered in my ears. They spewed from the mouths of my peers, but they also came from the mouths of those much younger than me -- siblings of my peers. Little imps, they were. They were spat at me from even the greasiest and most awkward students older than me. They were low-men on the totem pole, but I was the dirt they stood on.

It was inescapable. But, I put my white polo shirt on and my navy pants and continued onward through the halls of my small Parochial school where there were 50 students in my "graduating" class.

The halls were lined with so much unkindness, that I turned to the lined pages of a notebook. It was therapy, of course, but it was something else: the birth of an identity. My own identity, and not the one assigned to me.

Within the limits of my room, I laid on the floor and decided that I deserved a different identity -- one that could be dark and angry and horrific, but creative and also hopeful, tied together with syntax and punctuation, showcased in the form of stories, lyrical essays, and hulking metaphors that pushed my peers into saying to me, "You're, like, a writer."

I wasn't like a writer. I was a writer, and it was something none of those 50 kids seemed to be.

By my eighth grade year, when we were assigned a mystery to write, I flourished. Seven pages shot out from my dot-matrix printer. When the chance to share these stories was offered, I stood in front of that room, and I shook off any of the names they tacked on to me, and I read my seven pages: Jenny was a vampire, and someone was after her, but who?

When I sat back down, I was proud. So proud. Hate might have ebbed and flowed inside of me from fourth grade up until eighth grade, but writing helped me flatten it out into something manageable, into something I wouldn't act on. It was my dictionary where I defined and redefined who I was.

There was only one name that stuck after I read that story, and it was said loud enough for the rest of my class to hear: writer.

To them, I was a writer, and they finally respected me.