Life Lessons

When I was a kid, I remember screaming this phrase; "It isn't fair!" quite often. My mother was usually diplomatic and calmly would try to resolve the frequent fights between my brother and I, or would clumsily try to be consoling when I would come home from school screaming my trademark phrase after a hard day of being tormented by my fellow classmates. But there was one day when I came home ranting about the unfairness of the universe and my mother totally lost her cool. She screamed, "Who ever said life was fair!!!" in my face. I was struck dumb...and then I ran to my room to cry.

That one phrase turned my pre-teen world upside down. It was a profound statement about the state of the universe and my role in it. My mother was right (and admitting THAT to myself was also earth-shattering). Life wasn't fair! My already deep teen depression blackened around the edges and I sank further into a pit of blind despair deeper than any I had reached previously. The world looked bleak and hopeless...until I realized that I could reinvent myself at my new school.

No one there needed to know what a geek I was or that I was the victim of constant bullying. The problem was, I had no road map to follow on my path to coolness. I knew that first impressions were critical, but what kind of impression was the right one? My uncertainty turned into indecision and my indecision turned into a sort of walking fugue state...except on the bus ride to and from school.

I had to take public transportation each day because I lived too far away from my new private high school. The bus ride in the morning saw me in a state of nervous agitation. I would chew my cuticles and my legs would bounce up and down on the balls of my feet in a blindingly fast vibration that must have burned 1000 calories and kept my calf muscles toned. The bus ride home, I would sink into my seat in a puddle of relief and slouch against the window with one leg curled up onto the adjacent seat and one stretched out into the bus isle (I was, and am, pretty tall.)

What I didn't know in those first couple weeks of school was that I was being watched. I don't think anyone else noticed me at ALL during the day (I had succeeded in becoming invisible to my classmates), but this girl saw me. She watched me and, for some reason, decided to try to talk to me. She plopped down in the seat beside me one morning and broke through my jittery self-reflection with a simple statement; "Hi! Man, those new uniforms are wicked ugly. Why did they change them? Oh, and I'm Kathleen, by the way."

I often wonder now why a chorus of angels didn't sing at that moment. It was one of those cosmically huge life moments! One where your path suddenly takes a detour into crazy fun town and you wonder if fun ever existed before this person fell into your life.

She was one of those people. You know the GET them and yet are completely BAFFLED by them at the same time. And oh the mad talent this girl had. She was so creative! She wanted to have a career as a medical illustrator and had dreams of attending the Rhode Island School of Design.

Then in one senseless moment...she was gone. All that potential. All that LIFE, gone forever.

And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is why these sudden deaths of celebrities I have grown attached to hit me so hard. Heck, anyone I know or hear about who is cut down in the prime of their life hits me hard.

I tend to withdraw when I get depressed. I go through the motions of my life, but anything fun or any of my creative outlets tend to suffer. My blog. My photography. They suffer neglect.

But hey, no one ever said life was fair, right? But no one ever said we had to lie down and take it up the bum either. So, time to get up and dust myself off. I still have a new camera that needs breaking in. It is 7am, the sun is AWOL and it looks to be a crappy gray day out there, but maybe I'll take the new camera on a field trip anyway. I need to get out of this house for a while.


Donna said…
I clicked on the link and went to read about your friend. I believe that is one of your best entries ever.

Sometimes life just doesn't make sense.
Chris said…
I can understand how that would make unrelated deaths dredge up old memories.
Two Write Hands said…
Hope you snap a shot of something special!
Stuart said…
wow what a stunninginly well written and thoughtful entry.
Anonymous said…
This was a wonderful heartfelt entry. I do hope you get out with the camera and find some beauty to capture.

Unhinged said…
For me, one of the hardest lessons to learn about life was that it isn't fair. It used to make me so sad, so mad. Sometimes it still does.

That's why I'm on drugs.

(Har. Kind of.)

I went and read your entry about Kathleen. Very powerfully written--I felt every word. And I'm sorry it happened the way it did.

Hugs to you, Becky Girl.
Lori said…
My Dad's stock response (which I find myself spouting these days), was:

"What kind of a sissy word is fair?"

You're right. We do have a lot in common, right down to bus memories.

Very nice to meet you, Becky.

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