In December of my 8th grade year we moved across the state. It was not a move I approved of. Not one bit. I wanted to stay with my friends in the school I knew and loved. In my new middle school, I was no one. And with my new school being in the suburbs of Washington D.C., I found the students to have a much higher focus on material things - and me without a single pair of Guess jeans. Fitting in was hard. On my very first day of school, I walked around all day with a lint sheet hanging out of the leg of my pants. I was convinced, once discovered, that everyone must've thought it toilet paper. I knew that was a bad way to start my new life.
But things got worse. I walked into my Physical Science class, where students were seated in long lab table rows according to last name. My teacher made everyone in the rows rearrange until I was seated next to the one girl who shared the same last name as me. Her name was Mary. She was beyond unpopular. She had no friends and she didn't bathe regularly. I loathed sitting next to her. I would scoot my chair as far from hers as possible, trying to hold my breathe from the stench. She never spoke to me, and I never spoke to her. We grandly pretended the other didn't exist. All we shared in common was our last names.
It was an ill-fated day that the Big Incident occurred. The teacher was up front lecturing. I was distracted by Mary, who had her head down on the desk, moaning on occasion. I didn't bother to ask what was wrong, but wished I could've scooted further to the right, further away from her. That's when I heard the splat of liquid on the floor. Mary had thrown up. If there was one thing, one fear I had, it was vomit. VOMIT! Right next to me! And no one was doing ANYTHING! I sat, sweating, heart racing, waiting for intervention that didn't come. No one noticed. Mary continued sitting there, head on the desk. The teacher kept lecturing. The smell kept drifting. And there was foamy white and yellow vomit right next to my feet. Finally, I couldn't bear it one more second. I stood up, and exclaimed, "CAN'T SOMEONE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?" and then I ran out. I don't remember the evacuation or what happened to Mary or the clean up. What I mostly remember is refusing to return to class that day. I sat in the hall and said I wasn't going anywhere near the vomit. Little princess much?
Mary didn't return to school for a few days after that. When she did, we never spoke, and continued pretending the other didn't exist. I only made one friend that school year, and was happy to move on to high school and better things the following year. I don't recall ever thinking of the situation from Mary's perspective, or wondering how awful that must have been for her, until I was an adult. What can I say? Thirteen year olds are self-absorbed and selfish. Or at least I was. Thankfully we grow up and broaden our minds a bit. I hope that Mary found more happiness in her adult life than in her teen years.
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