I spent more time this evening going through pictures, trying to put together a map of sorts, of my growing up years. I've lived in many different places over the years, with Mom and occasionally with her men friends. The longest I ever lived anywhere was probably in our last apartment in California, and that was only for about eight years.
When I was done going through all the loosephotos, I had a pretty complete timeline, and it was interesting to see how I thought things should go together, only to find the occasional dated photo that threw my theory off.
For instance, I thought I was five when my adopted mom and dad broke up. But I found this one, taken at the apartment Mom and I moved into after that, dated April of 1976. I was only four and a half, and the breakup had come between Thanksgiving and Christmas of the previous year!
I was also surprised to find that we lived in San Gabriel with Mom's third husband for at least a couple years. I do have more memories of those times -- piano lessons, a dream I had of a cardinal, colorblindness tests at school, and other things -- but I thought it was because I was older.
When I was in first or second grade and the boys would tease me, I remember chasing them and yelling at them to leave me alone. I wonder where I lost that ability to stick up for myself along the way? It might have served me well in later years.
In third grade, I remember being put into the sixth grade classroom during reading, and they were in the middle of a vocabulary test that first day. The words and instructions to write out the definitions were up on the board, and I could barely read the words, let alone define them, so I picked up a dictionary on the shelf beside my desk, looked them up, and started copying. Another student told me I wasn't allowed to do that, but the teacher was busy with other students and I was dumped into the room with little or no explanation. I think that's when I started getting stomach aches, and having to have Mom come get me at school sometimes.
I also remember being taken aside and told that I couldn't play anymore with the little black girl who was my friend. The reason they gave me was because I was in third grade and she was in first, but I rather doubt that was their real reason. I think she was one of very few black children in the school, and they were trying to keep it that way. So much for their 'Christian' attitude!
Third grade is right around when I had my heart cath, too, and I think that event was very traumatic to my sense of trust in adults and confidence in myself. With the second spinal fusion just a few years later, I'd had enough of doctors and hospitals for any two lifetimes.
Between ages seven and fifteen, we lived in several different places -- including the same apartment complex on two different occasions -- and I attended four different schools; five if you counted the restructuring of my gradeschool and the addition of junior high grades.
A lot of that time, I wanted to get away, and have a fresh start. But even when I did, things never really seemed to turn out different until high school. The boys teased me wherever I went, and I cried and declared that I hated school, though I really loved learning. Looking back I suppose it wasn't so much me who needed to change, as the kids around me needed to grow up. I remember I was scared to death to go to a public high school, wondering if the Christian schools were as bad as they were, how much worse would the public ones be. But much to my surprise, I had very few problems with any of the other students in public school.
I apologize for such a rambling entry tonight; this one was written mainly for myself. I'm still trying to put together more of the pieces of the puzzle, and come up with a more complete picture of my life.
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