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There Must be Something Wrong (With Me)

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I was new here at Bear Tavern school and I didn’t like it, because it wasn’t Robert Hunter school and Kent and Xavier and Annalee and Lauren and Julia weren’t here, and Richie wasn’t here and Luke wasn’t here, and I’m all alone on a soccer field playing goalie at recess while strange boys kick the ball around. No one talked to me, but that was okay because it was the first day of school and everybody has trouble fitting in sometimes. And I was a good goalie, and for weeks no ball went past me and the boys said I was good at soccer and I said no, just good at blocking. So good that I blocked the ball with my eye one day and pretended it didn’t hurt but it did. I never saw any of the boys cry when they got hit, so I wouldn’t either. And the boys must have accepted that because they let me be goalie for the rest of the game, even though I missed for the first time right after that.
But boys are boys and a month of soccer is a long time, so I gave up on making any good friends because the boys got all quiet when I talked to them or yanked on their hair or played tag. And I missed roughhousing with Kent in the playground and pushing Lauren down the slides. Lauren had the coolest last name ever. She was Lauren Blazer. Like a blaster and a laser combined. I would push her down the slide and then run for my life because she would try to grab my ponytails and wrestle me back up the playground, so she could push me down too.
And I didn’t always wrestle. Sometimes with Annalee we just sat down and we read books and we laughed and played house and she really liked playing with my hair and I liked letting her. And sometimes Julia would play with us too and we’d pretend to be fairies or princesses and we’d dress up in costumes and wait for our princes, but Luke and Richie were bad princes so Annallee and Julia and me would save ourselves and run away from the boys when they tried to ‘help’ us.
I tried to do that but nobody wanted to here. Or they did, but they just didn’t want to do that with me.
So I wandered around and I was a good kid and I smiled when I thought I had to smile and I stayed after class to help clean up, not because I didn’t want to go to recess or sit down at lunch, no, I was just a good kid and one day I met Alana and Nicole and they were cool, and Nicole was really cool because she had her ears-pierced and Alana and I trailed after her like lost puppies.
But maybe Nicole was too cool, because we made up a game on the playground that everyone else wanted to play too but the teachers said it was dangerous so we stopped. Then Nicole got mad because she thought it was fine, but the teachers said that sliding down slides with people at the bottom was dangerous and I maybe agreed a little because I had foot shaped bruises on my stomach but I never told Nicole. And because I was a good kid I was still friends with Nicole but not friend-friends, because good friends don’t get each other in trouble so I was alone again. I went walking around and I saw a group of girls playing tag or house or duck-duck-goose, and I asked to play because I was lonely and they were not and they said no.
Oh.
So I wandered around the playground every day at school, and soon the ache for my old friends was replaced with the longing to just have friends, and I looked at the group of girls playing tag or house or duck-duck-goose and I realized that girls were mean. So I went back to soccer where there were only boys, and the goalie nodded his head and let me take his place and he went out into the field and I blocked another ball with my other eye but it was ok, because I wasn’t completely alone.
But I looked back at the group of girls and I almost cried but my eye stung too much to cry and I wished they’d let me play with them and I wondered why they wouldn’t.
There must be something wrong with me, and I didn’t block a goal for the second time that year.






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