Age 12: Gauchos, Saddle Shoes and a Child Left Behind
A lot happened between 1978 and 1979. We moved 3 times within a one year timeframe. Our final move would be from Yonkers to Mahopac, New York. I didn’t leave this house until my wedding day 13 years later.
On our first day in the new house, with moving boxes strewn about, my two brothers decided to go out and put up a bike ramp in the middle of our street which, I might add, was a pretty steep hill. Eddie decided to play Evel Knievel and literally flew his bike over the ramp. Of course, when you try to fly when you are 9 or any time for that matter, you don’t usually land gracefully. He skidded across the gravel on his face (the streets in our neighborhood hadn’t been paved), and he spent the next several hours in the emergency room. His face was puffy, his eye was swollen shut and water on the knee forced him to use crutches for the next couple of weeks.
At this point, my mom started dabbling in sewing and started to make some of our clothes. She may have enjoyed her new hobby, but she was no Betsy Ross. She worked all summer on my “First Day of School” outfit. Since I have no photograph to share (thank goodness), let me paint a picture for you:
My pants were gauchos made of this industrial strength denim that made me appear to be a triangle when I stood straight. They were more for wearing in a school play about Polygons than at a place where I was trying to make a good first impression. I don’t know why, but the material of choice for the neck of my shirt was an elastic band. Thank goodness I had a scrawny little neck otherwise I may have choked to death. To top off the look, I wore knee highs and saddle shoes. It’s a wonder I made any friends. It would seem that both my brother and I were doomed at this point, but it gets better.
While all the other kids had Adidas and Nike sneakers, I had the privilege of wearing Cal-Pros for PE (remember the Caldor sneaker?). When I went to gym that first day, I didn’t realize that one of my shoes was about 2 sizes bigger than the other. Apparently, mom accidentally grabbed two different sizes from the bin. I remember lining up the toes of my shoes so that no one would notice.
While I was in this particular gym class outside, my brother Eddie was on the playground about a couple of hundred feet away. I remember looking up and noticing his familiar face, when suddenly this awful girl shoved him down in the dirt. The poor boy was defenseless, crutches and all. I took off like a bullet, leaving my gym class behind to go to his rescue. I stood up to that girl like I’ve never stood up to anyone before. I don’t know what came over me. I guess it was that protective thing, like when I was trying to save him from drowning several years earlier.
This was the third school this year for me and I was completely lost. I couldn’t grasp a thing they were teaching me. I can’t remember ever struggling so much in my life. The end result was to repeat 7th grade. I thought I was going to die; I was going to be left behind. I remember crying and crying the day my parents told me. All the friends I met, this was finally a place I could really settle in and I was going to lose it all.
Dramatic, I know. I was 12. It actually wasn’t so bad. I met new friends, in addition to keeping some of the old. I got 2 jobs – Papergirl and Babysitter. I was able to make money to buy myself a pair of totally rad leather clogs and Jordache jeans. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, my parents would not buy me anything designer. They thought it was frivolous, I thought I was deprived and that I had the worst parents ever. I wore the jeans to DEATH, almost every day of the week. I finally figured out that if I told people that I had 5 pairs of the same exact jeans, I would be less embarrassed.
I’ve come to realize that everything happens for a reason. That course of action and chain of events put my life in the direction it was supposed to go in. It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it? Oh, and mom and dad, it’s okay that you didn’t buy me everything I wanted. I get it now.