Late 1980’s. I was in 7th grade, middle school. Back then they called it Junior High. I had absolutely no friends, and hated school with my entire being. I was the kid that would eat lunch in the restroom by myself. Most kids did not even know my name, and I had gone to school with these people for the last two years. I was incredibly shy. I get how that would be annoying to most people. It really takes work to get me in. I had no confidence what-so-ever. At home, I was surrounded by these huge outgoing personalities, and that just was not me. I am a people watcher, not one to be watched. Most of the girls I went to school with, both in Colonial Heights and Great Bridge Virginia were in a world of their own. I did not look anything like them. They were tall, thin, blond hair and blue eyes, then there was me. Average height, my olive skin and black hair showed the school I was an interesting mix, a mix that these schools were not used to. It was such a miserable experience. Except, for David. For a brief moment in time, David made me feel….smart.
David was in my literature class. David was also a quarterback for the football team. He was tall, nicely built, light brown hair that complemented his green eyes and very popular. We sat next together in class, not by choice of course. One day in, David asked if he could take my notes home to copy and study them. Clearly David was under the impression that I was one of the “smart girls.” Poor David. Not only did he not realize I was an outcast, but he was under the impression that I also took notes. “Trust me, you do not want my notes.” Yet, being that David was the only guy that ever said two words to me, I quickly developed a crush. Enter Nicole.
Nicole was a very popular girl in my Science class. I really liked Nicole. She was tall, blond, and always wore some concert t-shirt (Whitesnake, Tesla, Montley Crue) paired with jeans and her Doc Martens. In another time or another place, her and I would have been good friends, but not in 7th grade Science class. Nicole and I sat directly across from each other. We were pretty much forced to talk to each other. Well played Science teacher! One day out of the blue, Nicole asked me if I liked anyone, you know, like did I like a boy. For whatever reason, I told her about David. I told her he talked to me and asked for my notes, and I thought he was cute. Nicole, being the tall, thin, pretty, and very popular girl she was, told me I need to let him know I like him. Yeah….that was not going to happen.
About two days later in school, I was walking down the hallway by myself, trying to figure out a way to skip my first period class. (Important to note Parents, I cannot get in trouble for trying to skip a class, the statue of limitations ran out!) I saw Nicole in the hallway. Now usually what happens is if she is with her group of friends she will walk on by, and pretend to not see me. I know she sees me, and she knows I know she sees me, but that is just how it works. Popular kids cannot be seen talking to the outcast. I did not make the rules.However, on this particular day, the hallway was pretty empty. Nicole came up to me a little to excited. “He likes you! I talked to him and told him about you and David likes you, so do not be surprised if he talks to you.” At first I was in shock, perhaps Nicole sniffed a little too much nail polish in the girls restroom. Then, I was in disbelief. “What, are you sure?” She assured me that she had just talked to him last night, and yes, he did in fact like me. It was almost as if she was happy for me? This was the best news ever. This had never happened before. A guy was actually interested in me? Of course he could never meet my sister, because once he meets my sister he will then be interested in her, but hey, my sister was still in 5th grade, elementary school, I could make this happen. In that brief conversdation, I imagined me telling my parents that a boy likes me. I pictured us going to football games and me cheering for him in the stands. I imagined my parents would be proud, and my sister would be in shock, and more importantly ,I finally felt that maybe I could be Alli from The Karate Kid. Daniele LaRusso’s love interest. Oh yeah I got this!
The next day as I was getting ready for school, I planned my outfit out perfectly. I wanted to look the best I could without it seeming I was trying too hard, because I would be seeing David in Literature class. I decided that I would make sure to get to class on time for once. I looked pretty and for the first time in a long time, I felt pretty. It is amazing what a pound of blue eye shadow can do for one’s self-esteem.
Right after my first period class, Nicole found me in the hall. She actually left her group of friends to come talk to me. I was excited about this. This was possibly the first step to me actually having friends. I mean if people see the popular girl talking to me, then surely I am pretty cool, right? Just give it time and I would be one of those girls.
“I have something to tell you, I am sorry, but David does not like you, he likes another Jennifer, you know the cheerleader. I am so sorry, I just assumed it was you.”
And that was it. Of course it was not me. How could I be so stupid to actually think it was me. No one was ever going to like me. I do not look like the other girls, I do not act like the other girls and I never will.
After the first date with Joe and I, things were awkward for a while. He was my boss, so by the book. Joe never risked anything unless it was climbing up the latter without a “spotter.” We would talk on breaks, and talk on the phone in the early evening hours, but that was pretty much it. Then, one day at work he called for a “Team Meeting”, we all gathered round as her nervously told us he was leaving Walmart. I was not quite sure I heard him correctly. Did he just say he was leaving Walmart in two weeks? Surely it had to be something I did or something I did not do. Perhaps it was too much baggage and really, could I blame him?
After work as we are all walking out together saying our good-byes, he pulled me aside and told me he was leaving Walmart in two weeks. “Yeah, I kinda got that from the meeting we had.” He stopped walking, turned to look at me “Jen, I am leaving Walmart so we will be allowed to date, if that is okay with you?”
Blindsided. Is this guy really leaving a job, a job that he is good at just to date me, without any consequences? It was the best I had ever felt in a long time, yet, talk about pressure. What if we did not connect? He left a job because of me? A job that he loved none the less. I was not worth it.
Enter Sean. Jessica and Sean were now officially over. In a funny turn of events, Sean was now living upstairs with Alphonso, and Jessica was still living with me. Talk about awkward. Sean and I worked the same shift, we had a pretty good friendship going on, and to make things easier, Sean and I would carpool to work. It was a nice situation, until it wasn’t.
It would only be a matter of time before I would find myself once again messing up.
Like that time in 7th grade.