My Heart, Your Home: With eyes as blue as the ocean   

Monday, 9 September 2013

With eyes as blue as the ocean

Over the last couple of weeks I have been building a friendship with a girl that I grew up, side by side, with. We were never friends, but never not friends. We shared many of the same friends, our social circles crossing, but we don't share any memories together. I had an image of who I thought she was growing up, who our small town had created her to be, as she did me. But through talking, and reminiscing, and sharing, I have found that she is not at all as her reputation would have you believe. As I hope I am not.

We grew up in a small town with a passion to gossip. You could not sneeze without the entire town having heard about it through five different people. Tales of your adventures would often become misconstrued, misstated and misunderstood. Once one person disliked you, if they had the power, the popularity, they could have an entire crowd dislike you. Once you were disliked by the right (or the wrong) people, your life and your reputation would now be in jeopardy. Once you had a reputation, you could not shake it. 

I had a reputation. A bad one. But my reputation was created for me before I had even committed my crimes. I was known as a drug user, as a slut. Yet, I'd never even smoked a cigarette let alone touched any drugs. In actual fact, I didn't even know what any drugs looked like. I had only ever kissed a boy, then been too afraid to talk to him the next day. I was actually a prude, "frigid" if you will. 

I still remember my first kiss like it was yesterday. I remember my tummy being tied up in knots, the sweaty palms, the confusion, the fear. The people. Oh do I remember the people watching me, egging on this first kiss. The first kiss that I felt pushed into doing in the corner of the room at a "Say No' disco. With a boy whom I barely knew and a crowd watching on, laughing at me for keeping my eyes open, slapping that boy on the back, asking me how do I feel. I felt terrified and wanted to go home. 

After that first kiss my interest in boys grew. I was still terrified and still didn't know what I was doing, but I was interested. My reputation was created for me by my naivety and my trust and faith in a boy that I met on a beach. A boy who was nice to me and talked to me for hours upon hours. A boy who called me at my home and whom I called at his. My very first crush, which at the time I thought was so much more. I would dream about him and I would think about him daily. 

He and I were at separate schools, in separate towns, so he was able to spin whatever he pleased and I was so young and impressionable that I thought that he was truthful and trustworthy. That was until after the holidays, I changed schools from my school in taree to my local school, to his school. My very first day, as I walked out of my classroom and into the playground for lunch, the very first thing I saw was that boy sitting on a bench with his longterm girlfriend that I had no idea about. The girlfriend who he had told I was harassing him and who then proceeded to make my life a living hell. 

From that very moment, my reputation was built. I was a boyfriend stealing, slut. I hated that word. That word used to be hurled at me across the playground. It used to be screamed at me as my hair was pulled from my head. Or screamed down the stairs at me after she had attempted to push me down them. The people yelling that word at me grew daily. One girl, two girls, six girls, twenty. 

That one girl and her tormenting words still ring in the back of my mind every now and then. How quick she was to jump to conclusions, assumptions and how easy it was for her to hang that reputation upon my shoulders. Her actions caused my schooling career to be tainted by the titles she gave me. Groups of girls, girls upon girls, had decided before even knowing me that they did not like me. I felt very much alone through school. I had friends, sure. But I never felt like I quite belonged. I grew up to believe the things that were said about me, I began to live, in a sense, the way they told me I was living. 

Sharing old tales of life in Forster with this new friend, who was not a friend, has made me question what I always thought I knew about people. How easily we form an opinion on another based upon the stories we have been told. I wonder, had any of those girls given me half a chance, would they still have hated me so intensely? How easily we paint people with the same brush as their friends. I wonder, how differently my life would have been had I never of met that boy on the beach? Words have such power, they are dangerous. I wonder, does she remember the way she treated me? Does she know how she changed me?

Growing up with all that hated pointed toward me has affected my self image, made me care about how people see me, made me believe I am unlikeable. But this new friendship is helping me learn that perhaps I always had more to offer and that it was not me that was unlikeable. But, the girls who were throwing such hatred across the school yard. This new friend is helping me to see that, just as I may have misjudged her, then people may have misjudged me. 

I was just a young naive girl who trusted a handsome blonde headed boy, with a smile as sweet as the sun and eyes as blue as the ocean and in that... my life had changed. 

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