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Uniform This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   So vivid are my memories of the first day of elementary school. I can still remember my shoes, brilliantly black, shining up at me from the mottled concrete sidewalk. The weight of my purple backpack felt deliciously new and exciting on my shoulders. I skipped along, swinging my ponytail, then a creamy shade of blonde. I was thinking about my forest green knee socks. My excitement slowly began to change to anxiety as my mother and I neared the school. I began to fret about my classmates, and irrational fears of every student hating me started to infest my innocent head.

We passed St. Kevin's Church and walked around to the back. There was the parking lot that served as our "recess" area. Through the chain-link fence that bordered our playground, there seemed to be a million parent-child hybrids milling around. By now I was gripping my mother's hand with my sweaty palm. I could tell that she sensed my anxiety as she unsuccessfully tried to reassure me with a smile.

I found the line for first grade and reluctantly joined it. My mother, thankfully, was nearby. As I turned to inspect the other children, I had a revelation. A sudden wondrous epiphany of sorts. Now that I was in a Catholic school (I had a brief stint in public school as a kindergartner), I was required to wear a uniform - and so was everyone else.

As pathetic as it may sound, this fact gave me courage to strike up a conversation with the girl in front of me. On her shoulders sat a royal blue backpack, and she had a thick, dark ponytail, that was (aside from the shade) just like mine. She was also sporting the stylish green knee socks and an identical, emerald green and gold jumper. I wondered if she too, felt like a leprechaun. Suddenly I had many questions. Did her socks itch? Was her blouse stiff? Are we allowed to wear "Strawberry Shortcake" sneakers?

"Yes."

"Yes, it's stiff and scratchy."

"I'm not sure, but I hope so."

Her responses were pleasing and even more reassuring than my mom's smile. We began to chat about our small annoyances and fears, and got to know each other. The first day of school flew by. It was over before we even had a chance to complain about the displeasing shoe regulation.

Her name was Gina, and we ended up becoming best friends for those first few years of elementary school. Now I am a senior in a public high school. Most of my peers strive to dress as uniquely as possible, choosing clothes that supposedly reflect their personality. I find it extremely ironic that almost everyone, in their "original" outfits, looks alike. I cannot deny that I try to find my own personal style. Yet sometimes I find myself yearning for the security and simplicity that comes from wearing a uniform. It is amazing how a piece of clothing can give someone such a sense of belonging. I have not heard from Gina in years, and I wonder if she remembers that little green jumper. I credit our relationship to that fateful uniform - in all its plaid glory. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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