Right before I entered the sixth grade, my family decided to move. In retrospect it was a good choice. However, to a 12 year old, it was daunting. Going into middle school is the first time in your life that you're REALLY slapped in the face with unknowns. Before lockers and vending machines you're kind of eased into changes. Mix that with hormones and then stir in a moving van and I'm surprised I survived at all.
We used to live in the hilltop of Tacoma, Washington. It's kind of where all the drug deals were done for Seattle. I think it was a bit more hood back then (I've heard they've cleaned it up) but I never really noticed. Whatever neighborhood problems I had faced were ridiculously mild compared to my classmates so they didn't come up in conversation much.
Clearly, my parents wanted to move so their kids could be in a safer neighborhood, but I didn't know that was a thing. I was pretty unconcerned about the crime rates in Gig Harbor. All i knew was that I was really excited about my outfit for my first day of 6th grade.
I had these amazing Unionbay cargo pants that were army green and kind of hung on my hips in a way that made me feel grown up. I wore them over this... I think I used to call it a leotard but it was a onesie. I mean, it snapped at the crotch with three snaps and everything. But it was kind of tight and long sleeved, cream with an embossed daisy pattern. My neck was adorned with a hemp necklace I had made over the summer. I had straight, brown hair parted down the middle because I really didn't know I could do anything else with it. I think I wore some B.U.M. shoes from Kmart because I wasn't old enough to beg my parents for Doc Marten's yet. I was still unaware of peer pressure.
I remember getting on the bus and being kind of confused. All of the pretty people were dressed like dweebs. Button down shirts I later learned were from Gap, a very important place for 6th graders in 1997. They all had sweater vests and straight legged jeans that HIT THEIR ANKLES. But they were still beautiful, these preppy fellow passengers of mine. The girls had barrel roll curls that bounced of their shoulders when the bus hit potholes. Some of them had the most beautiful nails I'd ever seen (it wasn't until much later that I learned about acrylics). The boys all had bleached hair tips and smelled like my dad only better.
Friendly girls introduced themselves to me over the backs of the black vinyl seats and asked where I was from. They gasped when I told them The Hilltop and immediately asked how many times I'd been robbed.
"Twice" I said, as if everyone in the world had been robbed that many times.
Prepubescent heads shook in... pity? I don't know. I just remember deciding not to mention drive-by shootings.
I don't remember much else from the first day. Just feeling awkward and out of place but not in a cool Christina Ricci from Casper way. More in a I-think-I-missed-every-memo-ever way. Now that I'm older I assume almost everyone felt like that. I dare say there are a lot of girls who just started their first day in 2014 on the same beat. To which I would say, the beat goes on.
You look awesome in those pants, girl.