Last week I was preparing myself for the weekly deluge of teenage chemistry that would be infiltrating my house for Thursday Night dinners. Part of my prep work was pulling out school pictures of myself at their age. I wanted to dive head first into the years that threw the most mud at my face. I needed to draw a connection from my 1980s teenage trauma. The goal was to map out some relatability to what kids are dealing with today.

I am acutely aware that in the mid 80’s there was no social media, no cell phones, no pagers, no internet and not a computer in sight. Except for that one time in high school and my dad brought home a KayproII Business Computer. Let’s side track a little bit about this computer though. The KPII was the first version of the laptop. And it was the size of a suitcase, with a steel sheet exterior and a keyboard that buckled onto the base. Can you picture it?

blogging in coffee shops since 1985 on this beauty

Okay bring it back Stac. Back to the school pictures that I was talking about earlier. I pulled these pictures out of storage last week and I haven’t been able to put them down or stop talking to this sweet little broken girl. This is me from 6th grade through 9th grade. I stopped going to school picture day and I stopped ordering yearbooks.

I was a new student at Maltby Elementary in 6th Grade. I was 12. I remember wanting the shadow style picture so badly. It was extra money, I am sure I begged for it. I am sure I thought it would help me and my ribbon sweater fit in. I started getting boobs but I was also too young to notice how crooked my teeth where. Caught in between two worlds, I wanted to make friends at my new school, I wanted to be invited to play four square or teatherball at recess.

I stopped smiling in 6th grade. I stopped laughing when I got shoved into the band closet and forced to give up first chair or else my own flute would be shoved up my nose. Today, I keep thinking what if this was captured on a twitter timeline? What if I couldn’t go home and escape the nightmare I found myself in. I am so thankful for the ability to escape the social backlash of being the new girl. I can’t imagine surviving this today.

Oh sweet girl with the lost smile. I love you so much.

I lost my authentic self in 7th grade. I compromised values in order to gain currency with friendships. And when it all came tumbling down around me, my brother currated a circle of on-lookers when I confronted her. The crowd chanting “fight! fight! fight! in the center of the junior high school court yard. There was honestly no fight in me. I have always wanted to be in the center of love. This didn’t feel right. I mean, look at her? How could this sweet little babe be in the middle of a school yard brawl.

I turned my back on her without a word, I turned my back away from the crowd and walked right into an extension of my sentence and ex-communication. As much as I wanted street cred and friends, love was still stronger than hate. I wonder if the outcome would have been the same if a youtube video of this altercation that never was became viral. What then?

Glorious love child, I see you now and I am so proud of you for choosing love.

The last two years have been dedicated to my own saddness. I shed countless tears for myself and my loss. I’m not ashamed of it. The last thirty days my tears haven’t lessened but they have shifted. This new shift isn’t subtle. It’s blatant and it’s enough for me to dissect. My love, pain and empathy has shifted from me to we as I connect to kids that are me, feel familiar to me, and maybe have unseen pieces of Ian.

Beautiful love is the girl that lost her smile, keeps choosing love when love leaves her. Love is when we see pieces of Ian in the kids we meet, and if we look closely enough maybe we see him in ourselves.

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