Leggings and Cowboy Boots

January 14, 2011
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I was walking down the hall when I saw her – the new girl. I almost dropped my math book. I could tell that she was the new girl because she stood out – I mean, you could see her from across the hall! Her outfit was all wrong. She obviously didn’t know what people wore here.

She was wearing a patchwork dress with squares of all different colors and textures. She had a huge white ribbon in her hair and hanging around her neck was a bulky silver locket with a rusty chain. When I looked down I saw that she was wearing leggings and cowboy boots.

I tried not to stare. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. And anyway, she would learn how to fit in. Everyone wants to fit in, right? Janie, Lauren and I hung out at the lockers for a few minutes, but then we were forced to split up as they went to science class and I went to English.

As I ran to class (I was late) I noticed that the new girl was standing in the middle of the hallway with a piece of paper in her hand. It looked like a map of our school. I immediately turned around and went up to her.

“Hey,” I said. “Are you lost?”

“Yes,” she sighed in relief. “Can you tell me where Mrs. Lauer’s art class is?”

I smiled at her and said, “The art classes are over in that building actually.” I pointed out the window across the courtyard to a small brick building. “It has all the art and chorus classes and stuff like that. Mrs. Lauer’s class is in Room 222.”

She quietly smiled back and said, “222. And thank you.” Then she left without saying a word, leaving her rhyme behind with me. Her hair was blonde and curly, and I watched as it swished from side to side along her lower back as she walked away. Just because she was weird didn’t mean that I should be mean to her! Then I ran to class. I was late, but I was still glad that I had helped her find her way.

It wasn’t until after school that I saw her again. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving break, and everyone was in a mad rush to go home and escape. It’s not like I wanted to be her friend or anything, but I figured that the first day of school would be tough for anyone, so I started talking to her.

“So how was your first day of school….um….you know I never did ask you your name!” I said, putting on my friendly face.

“My name is Samara,” she replied with a vague smile. “And my first day went fine. Some people made fun of my clothes though.” While she said this Samara still wore her same smile, as though she would never become less than content. She started absentmindedly braiding her hair.

“Yes, I did notice,” I admitted. “So do you wear those clothes…..every day?”

“No, I wear a different outfit everyday!” Samara chuckled.

“You know what I mean!” I laughed.

“Yes, I like my clothes.” she said, as we started to separate.

“See you after break!” I said, even as I walked toward the bus loop and Samara toward the bike racks. “You can come over any time if you want!” I added, trying to be nice to Samara. “Oh and my name’s Rachel Wilson. Bye!” I called.

As I stepped onto my bus I smiled to myself. My mom always told me to be nice to new girls, and I had been very nice to samara today.

The next day I told Mom all about her.

“Mom, she’s nice but she’s so strange! And she was wearing this crazy outfit!” I sat down on the couch next to her, nervously twirling my red hair.

“Well, honey,” she said, without looking up from her book. “Never judge a book by its cover.”

I rolled my eyes but I knew she was right. Just then, the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it!” I shouted as I ran to the door, eager to exit the conversation. I swung open the door and stuck my head out to see who it was. When I saw her my jaw dropped.

“Samara?” I asked.

“Hi Rachel,” she smiled. “You said I could come over anytime. So here I am.” I was so surprised that I couldn’t say anything. “I biked here,” she continued.

“Come on in,” I managed to spurt out.

As Samara used the bathroom, I whispered to my mom, “If I thought she’d actually come over, I never would have invited her!”


As Samara walked out of the bathroom I said, “Come see my room.”

I loved my bedroom – we had painted the walls purple for my tenth birthday. Janie and Lauren already had purple bedrooms, so of course I had decided to get one too.

Samara and I sat down on top of the bed. I heard the clinking of the metal snaps of today’s outfit – overalls with marker drawings all over the fabric.

We sat there for a minute, without having anything to say.

“Thanks for inviting me.” Samara said. “You were the only person at school that was nice to me yesterday.”

“Really? I asked. “Just because of your... you know...style?" She nodded, and
started fidgeting with her locket.
“Why do you wear those clothes?” I spurted out. She smiled at me and looked me square in the eye.
"Why do you wear those?" she asked.
I thought about that for a moment. I thought about how every girl in our grade wore the same name brand, and how Samara wore whatever she wanted. I admitted what I was thinking.

"I guess I wear these because Janie and Lauren and all the other girls do."

"I just like to express my style," explained Samara. "I do and wear whatever I want to – I don't care what other people think about me." She grinned at me and asked, "Do you?"

"Well yes, but now I just don't know anymore! When you say it like that it sounds so bad."

"It can be! That's why I choose to ignore other people and just be myself." she exclaimed. "That dress I was wearing yesterday – I made it from scrap fabric. Those boots were from when I lived in Texas. And this," she touched her locket gently, "was my mom's, from when she was a baby. She gave it to me when I turned ten."

I saw the way that she looked at her locket and the way she treasured it. I was now ashamed of ever caring that it was rusty.

"I'll admit that I've never seen anyone wear leggings and cowboy boots before," I said, "But you have the guts to be individual. I don't know if I could ever do that..."

Samara actually laughed just then!

"Sure you could! Just be yourself, and don't judge a book by its cover."

"Samara!" I shrieked! "You sound like my mom!" We both laughed, and I laughed so hard that I fell off the bed. It was at that moment that I realized that I had made a new friend.

"Hey, wanna sign my overalls?" Samara asked. "All my friends from back home signed their names." As I scrambled to find my purple permanent marker, she leaned over. I signed these words on the back: "Rachel Wilson – Keep on being you." I circled my message with a heart.

As time went by, I realized that Samara was much happier being herself than all those girls who try so hard to fit in. We grew to be best friends.
And guess what I wore to school the next Monday–leggings and cowboy boots.

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