(The second installment of a three-part series, maybe four. Read the first, One Score and Five Years Ago, Part I, here lest you be utterly confused. Who am I kidding, my life’s not all that comprehensive; you’ll be fine if you start at age 10.)
1993, age 10: I was always an athlete, even at a young age. In fourth grade, my softball team wiped the field with every other team in the state – make that country – and came home from the USSSA World Series with bronze medals. (We also won the silver in the Best Dressed category – yes, there is such a thing – which sufficiently pissed off our parents who thought we should have gotten first, particularly Connie Bailey who spent weeks perfecting our red-baseball-pants-and-sequin-hat ensembles. No, we did not don the hats in games, just for the runway-like uniform competition.) I got my braces on and off this year because I had a wonky front four chompers that just wouldn’t grow in after losing my baby teeth; once they were removed, I simply looked like a human beaver with massive incisors. If only I knew then that it would be another two years of braces, thousands of dollars (of my parents’ money), and two surgeries, two root canals, and a set of Veneers later to achieve the perfect grill.
1994, age 11: In fifth grade, Lauren Martin, quite the troublemaker at the time (and maybe still, I wouldn’t know), told our teacher, Mrs. Lynch, that I sent her a note calling Mrs. Lynch “a bitch.” Ever the sheltered child, I didn’t even know what a bitch was. Mrs. Lynch held a “conference” with the two of us and the four others our posse comprised, and gave us a good talking to. Mrs. Lynch later called my mother and said she couldn’t imagine me having done that. I always did have the teachers on my side (read: brown-noser!). After fifth grade, I went to Ralph Lundy soccer camp for the first time in Asheville, North Carolina. It was the hottest summer the mountain town had on record at that point, and we all almost died of heat exhaustion. I shaved my legs for the first time, much to my mom’s chagrin. We did so furtively in our dorm rooms – we were restricted to lotion and kleenex, since our bathrooms were communal and we had no shaving cream (the girls’ room also had no dividers between showers and at 11, nothing could be more humiliating than being naked with a group of pubescent older girls; thus, I showered nightly in my modest one-piece bathing suit) – and I sliced open my thumb with the razor blade. When I saw my mom the next day, I had to fess up. Needless to say she wasn’t happy. That summer, we took a loooong cross-country road trip in our Chevy van – my parents, Kari, my grandparents, and likely a dog or two (we always had a handful of animals at our house at any given time) – from Tennessee, up through Missouri, down through Kansas and some other Midwestern parts I don’t really remember, and ending in Colorado. We met the (favorite) cousins (hi Coco! Drewskie! John!) and aunt and uncle out at a family camp, Trail West, outside of Colorado Springs, in which we played a lot of cards, watched my Aunt Lou cry like a baby when we all went down the zip line, and went horseback riding at the crack of dawn only to have some wranglers whip us up a batch of pancakes (seriously, could we not have done that in the cafeteria at a normal hour?). I had a wannabe obsession with horses, so I bought a tan horse shirt out West, which I wore on the first day of sixth grade with khakis, brown socks pushed down, a headband of course, and white shoes (oh, the 90s). I was quite the vision in neutrals.
1995, age 12: I attended my first middle school dance. Until I was 17, I was painfully shy (so much so that I would stay in the car when my mom was dropping me off at school until there was no one else around, as to avoid forced, unneccesary human interaction, I suppose). My girl friends and I all met at Mary Lambeth’s beforehand. The pictures reveal that 1995 was the year for tight, striped shirts and knit vests. You can’t really tell any of us apart. In going through her archives, my mom found many pictures of this initial fall dance (she was always on hand to document every single event of my life, for which I am now glad – I wasn’t really at the time). She has photos of everyone but me, which is just testament to how shy I really was: I wouldn’t even get out on the floor and dance. I was a total cracka even then.
1996-1998, ages 13-15: Otherwise known as the Formative, Painfully Awkward Years – more braces, pimples, baby fat, constant fighting with my mother, letting my friends massacre my hair with a pair of fabric scissors, blah blah blah – let’s forget they ever happened. Sadly enough, this was also the time period I discovered the camcorder, and my gal pals and I went to town with the skits, Spice Girls and En Vogue music videos, and SNL sketches, so unfortunately these years also contain a lot of photographic evidence (if ever my mom gets all of her 1,273,980,560 photos transferred to digital – she’s a photographer, so I don’t really think that is an exaggeration), I’ll post them just so you believe me.
1998, age 15: I left the country for the first time, a 10-day trip through foggy England with the fam. Why we chose to go somewhere that does not celebrate our massacring the Indians – excuse me, Native Americans – and stealing all their land for Thanksgiving is still beyond me, but hence my love affair with Cadbury (and yes, I’d say travel) began then and there. When my parents were napping off jet lag, I would steal away to the bodega around the corner and stock up on Dairy Milk, Revels, Buttons and all sorts of chocolate-y goodness. And I wonder why I was 10 pounds heavier then than I am now. I think it was my dad’s first and last time out of the country, other than Mexico and Caribbean, and you want to know why? Well, here’s as good an illustration as any: Prior to our trip, my mother had her favorite station, the Weather Channel, blaring on the tube, and my dad stopped to watch the regional forecast (that being the southern states): “So where’s England on that map?” Case in point.
1999, age 16: The state of Tennessee was stupid enough to give me a license. I already had a car, a 1998 Ford Taurus, affectionately named the Silver Bullet (sometimes simultaneously referred to as the Spaceship), that my parents surprised me with when I was 15. I thought I was the Bomb Dot Com (isn’t that what the kids were saying at the time?), even though it would be awhile until I discovered it was indeed a Mom Carpool Vehicle. It didn’t take long for my first wreck: On the way to a soccer game that summer, I rear-ended Lindsay Simms’ SUV. I still maintain that it was her fault, seeing as she slammed on the
breaks in an attempt to run a yellow light because she saw a cop. So what if I was tailing her a little too closely?
2000, age 17: A late bloomer in many aspects, I consumed the first sip of booze that was not fed to me out of a Budweiser can by my father. I proceeded to drink half of a soda bottle full of Sun-Drop and Jack Daniels (don’t judge, we were in Lynchburg camping at the time), which is not enough to give anyone a buzz, let alone a two-day hangover. But alas, Mother’s Day the following morning was not fun, and I more or less ruined my chances at the regional tennis championships Monday when the effects still hadn’t worn off (Mom: you can thank Eric Daigle for that one). Lesson learned. It would be a good while before I ever touched booze again – well, six months at least, which in teen years might as well have been a decade. That summer, I finally came out of my shell, thanks to attending a pre-university program on international relations at the University of Memphis. Their were 120 other geeks just like me there, and I like to think that’s when the real social butterfly in me developed. I also was a real rebel: On the last day of the program, I got kicked out because a) I broke curfew twice by coming in at 10:35, not 10:30, after walking around campus with my camp boyfriend Eric and b) Rachel and I were caught in the boys’ dorm hanging out with friends (come on, people, we were just talking! Seriously!). We wouldn’t have been caught had the counselors not been looking for the true delinquents, Jessica and Kimberlyn, who actually were probably doing something naughty. They took our mug shots, and we were forced to do manual labor the next day in the 172-degree, humid, August, Memphis heat. They caved and gave me my diploma anyway.
I’m jetting off to Brazil tomorrow (yes, of course, you can come! Hurry now, pack your bags!), but will try my hardest to write should I take a break from tanning on Copacabana Beach, chilling with Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain, and cooling off with a caipirinha every now and again (wow, this post contains multiple alcohol references, come to think of it. I’m really not a lush, I promise!). I might also consult the wit and creativity of guest bloggers, like former roommate Lindy (show her some love!), and possibly even SVV should he be so inclined. Maybe if enough people leave comments here encouraging him to do so, he will! Also, if you have desire to write a guest post for me, shoot me a line; I’d love to have you! Enough with the exclamation points now; I’ll stop!