There was a time in my life when I tried to be a “normal” kid. This wasn’t an easy thing to do considering my father had three wives in four years, and none of them would have won “Mother-of-the-Year”.
Just before my sisters and I went into foster care, I signed up with the city to be a cheerleader for the pony league football team. I was eleven years old and had just started into the sixth grade. I was the only one without saddle oxfords. Already, I was different.
Our team, The Moose Club team, did very well and we eventually got to the State Championship. Yay! Go Moose. The whole community of my small town, LaGrange, GA, got behind us. There were signs everywhere cheering us on.
Then came the big day. We were up against Savannah, a school team. An enormous crowd showed up at the city stadium to watch the game and offer their support. The Savannah buses pulled up and a marching band came off first playing triumphant music followed by a team of boys in black and gold that made our team in blue and white look like midgets.
We knew right away that we were NOT going to be victorious.
To make matters worse for me, a cheerleader on my own team slapped me in the chest with her pom-pom, shattering my beautiful white mum corsage. All of the petals scattered and fell to the ground. There wasn’t anything but a red, white and blue ribbon to save.
When we went over to do our H.E.L.L.O. cheer, this same cheerleader slapped me in the face with her pom-poms in the middle of our cheer. I retaliated by smacking her back across the chest, likewise destroying her flower.
When we got back to our side, the cheerleading coach benched both of us for the rest of the game…which we lost. Bad.
The following school day, my sisters and I were seated on the school steps awaiting our step-mother to pick us up. The team quarterback, Jeff McHugh, was teasing me in front of a large group of boys and spit a massive loogie into the back of my hair. Again, I retaliated by jumping up and kicking him hard in the crotch. That got us both sent to the Principal’s office.
My dad showed up to defend me. I was really proud of that. But I didn’t score any points with the guys.
After a summer of riding bikes around the neighborhood and falling “in love” with a boy down the street, I started to the all-girls junior high school. I was done with competitive sports. While my sisters and friends practiced band, drill team, tumbling, and so on…I was seated in the back of the library reading books.
I would lose myself in the stories and drift off to faraway places and meet interesting people. It was my escape from reality.
The library had a set of National Geographics that covered the entire back wall. A lady had donated it to the school and it had every copy from 1915 to 1972. I traveled all over the world through those magazines and was certain, with all of the Jacques Cousteau articles; I would someday be an oceanic photographer.
That never came to pass, but I had found refuge in those magazines and forevermore reading was my favorite pastime. I was no longer interested in competitive sports or being popular, just give me a book.
During foster care, traveling through four schools in three years in four different towns, I always had my stories to keep me company. My familiars. My love for reading and writing grew out of those days spent in the library.
Thus, a book nerd was born!
My reading and writing skills were well developed by high school and I received much encouragement, from dear teachers and fellow students, to pursue those talents.
Are you a book nerd?
How did you develop your interest in reading and writing?
Have competitive sports ever been your thing?
Were you a popular kid in school?