Sorry, I don’t remember your name. Probably just as well because I’m going to generously assume you have grown up into a lovely person.
Here’s what I do remember, though. You had a slumber party at your very cool house with your cutting edge Atari game, and a swimming pool, and fancy store-bought cake and deli trays. Tall cotton, I tell you. And your very PC mom told you you had to invite everyone on the team.
So I got invited. Even though my fifth-grade self was actually pictured in the dictionary next to “awkward.” That was the year of cutting my own bangs the night before school pictures. So awesome. Of course, I couldn’t stay the night because your party was on a Saturday and nothing supplanted church in our family. Unless we were on vacation, in which case we found a church there to visit. Unless we were camping, in which case the hymnals went in the back seat pockets of the car next to the Bibles and we packed our own communion. So let’s revise that decision to “awkward fundamentalist” and throw in a helping of “who totally thought everyone was like that.”
With 20-something years hindsight in my favor, I see how the land mines. At 12, not so much. Just honored to be nominated, as they say. And the party started out just fine. No one was really talking to me, but I could just hang on the periphery of little clusters and pretend.
Then, someone decided it was time to crank up the stereo and start dancing.
Remember that “fundamentalist” addendum? We didn’t dance, either. And I have the natural rhythm and grace of a drunk hedgehog. But giddy with forbidden brand-name caffienated soda, I decided to rock it out. Well, it was the late 70s. So actually, disco boogie it out. Throw myself into it. Go whole hedgehog, as it were.
At some point, I became aware that you and your posse had stopped dancing and were just watching my spastic gyrations. And laughing.
And before I could play it off, you said, loud enough for me to hear even over the Bee Gees, “don’t worry, my mom made me invite her but she can’t spend the night.”
I don’t remember much else but sitting on the shag carpet and waiting for my mom to pick me up. Funny, the details we keep. Your carpet was rust and brown and goldenrod all mixed together, and I braided little strands of it together to keep from crying.
I’d like to say I’m totally over it, it’s all good. But since I’m telling the internet, maybe not so much.
There remains a little part of me that would always like to retreat to the carpet and braid the strands together rather than get out there.
This week, when I decided to go ahead and press “publish” on this blog, it felt a little like standing on the edge of the dance floor, wondering if I had any business being there. And so, to my beautiful real-life friends who came to read and asked “what were you waiting for?” and to the strangers who visited and posted kind things, this awkward spastic hedgehog genuinely thanks you and hopes you’ll come back.