Ah yes, a familiar feeling.
New school. New locker. Same cold, unyielding metal.
I hear one of the girls who just shoulder checked me into my good friend Mr. Locker say under her breath.
Her friends laugh.
Gotta love High school.
Continuing my trek down the hall I see people staring at me, I know what they’re thinking. Everyone does.
A few of them Giggle, pointing.
It’s like one of those scenes in a movie where someone’s having a nightmare about showing up to school in their underwear, except I’m fully clothed, and no amount of pinching is waking me up from this nightmare.
The problem is they just don’t like what I’m wearing.
Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
I walk by another set of girls. You can tell they’re the “populars”
All blonde hair, and too much make up for a Monday morning.
Just as I pass them I hear one whisper “is that a girl?”
I just drop my head and keep walking.
“Sticks and stones Kels, sticks and stones.” I say to myself as I find my way to class.
Ah the Cafeteria.
High schools most feral hunting grounds.
This is where 99.9% of high schools social rules are applied and where you’re truly called out for being the band geek or the foot ball star.
The halls are one thing, it’s a battle class to class, but in here… it’s war.
After I get my lunch, a fruit cup and a meat I can only hope is some form of hamburger. I make my way to a table, any table really.
I set my sites for a shy looking groups, all of them are face first in some book. I’ve found that these types of people are usually more open minded. Or hopefully they’re so into whatever they’re reading they won’t notice me even trying to sit with them, fingers crossed, regardless.
I set my tray down and they immediately all look up at me.
I expect a warm greeting, so I begin,
“Hey there, my name is Ke-.”
But I’m cut off by one of them, brace face I’ve deemed him. Because no one told me their names, no one let me say mine either. He interrupted me to say “someone’s sitting there”
Then all of them immediately went back to their book.
I slide my tray to the seat next to the supposedly taken one, and again he says someone’s sitting there, not even bothering to look up this time.
I give up.
Spotting an empty table, I figure it’s my best shot.
I make my way over to my own tiny island, and just as I’m about to reach for the chair, I’m falling suddenly.
I don’t have time to catch myself, react, hold my tray. I’m just falling, face first in the middle of the cafeteria.
I’m in the floor.
Taking a moment to asses the damage, I slowly get up to a round of applause and laughter by the whole cafeteria.
Looking to my left, I see what’s tripped me. A pink pair of Nikes attached to that same blonde haired devil.
Now, normally this would by the part where I tell you how I went running out of the cafeteria, tear filled eyes and vowing to never set foot in the place again.
Maybe even some brave soul follows me, tells me everything’s going to be okay and we become best of pals.
But no, that’s not what happened.
I pick my tray, and myself, up off the floor.
Slide into my seat at my solo table, and stair at absolutely nothing for the remainder of lunch.
This, I think, is the ultimate social suicide. Not only am I sitting alone at lunch, which is a trademark for loser. But now everyone definitely knows who the new weird kid is, on display for all to see.
It’s like every single pair of eyes on me is burning a tiny hole in my back, soon I’ll be Swiss cheese.
Maybe people would like me more if I was Swiss cheese.
Maybe I, would like me more if I was Swiss cheese.
I walk through my front door, throwing my bag onto the arm chat and kissing my handsome boy Chester (a lovely kitten) on the forehead.
I grab a snack in the kitchen and almost make it up stairs before my moms calling me.
“Kelly! Don’t just run upstairs and hide in your room, get in here and tell me how your first day of school went!”
I sigh, this will be fun.
Upon entering the living room my mom pats the empty seat on the couch next to her, an invitation I do not want.
I lean against the door frame, letting her know I don’t intent to stay in this conversation longer than necessary.
“So,” she begins.
“ how was it? Did you make new friends? How are the teachers?“
I stopped listening to them after the cafeteria fiasco.
“Good. I met some people. They were okay.” I say, hoping this will satisfy her.
“Come on Kelly, give me some details.” She says the word details in this way that just makes me angry. Why does it make me so angry when she asks about my day? I know she’s just being nice and motherly but it irks me to my core.
Plus she keeps calling me Kelly, how many times do I have to tell her.
“Mom, how many times do I have to tell you? It’s Kels. Not Kelly.”
She does that think she always does when I say this, rolls her eyes and crosses her arms.
“Well, considering it’s the name I gave you. The one on your birth certificate, I might add, I think I have the right to call you Kelly.”
I think if you were to pan to me in this moment, you’d probably see actual smoke coming out of my ears.
“Okay, Rebecca. Fair enough”
But not in the way you’d think, she stands slowly. Uncrossing her arms and moving them to her hips.
This is her ultimate mom pose.
“What did you call me young lady?”
I cringe, I hate being called lady. Barf.
“Well, I figure if you can call me a name I don’t like. Then I can do the same for you”
Now she’s yelling.
“You will treat me with respect.” Blah blah blah
“I am you MOTHER.” Blah blah blah
“I’ll call you whatever I want.” Blah. Blah. Blah.
I want to tell her that respect is a two way street but I know she’ll probably decapitate me for saying so.
So I just stand there waiting for her to finish.
When she’s done she takes a deep, calming breathe.
“Now, tell me about your day.”
I’m mad, beyond mad. Because I’ve had a long day and this whole conversation isn’t helping.
So I tell her.
I tell her every annoying, painful, embarrassing moment.
Do you know what her response was?
“Well, maybe if you wore a dress they wouldn’t have a reason to pick on you. “
I don’t even dignify this with an answer.
I simply turn and head up the stairs.
If I wanted to wear a dress, I would.
But I don’t, and no one seems to get that.
My entire existence has been
“Kellys such a tomboy”
“Maybe if she did this”
“Maybe if she wore that”
“Why is she in the boys department”
Whispers and stairs, that’s my life at stores, in school. Heck, even at home now.
It’s why we had to move, the church my mother attended found out I like girls and they treated it like I murdered 5 people.
How about this everyone, Kelly isn’t Kelly, She’s. Ever BEEN Kelly. Kelly is Kels, and Kels is disgusted by the thought of being feminine in any way shape or form.
The word Trans doesn’t seem to be in these peoples vocabulary, it’s only been in mine recently.
I’ve never related to a word more. But the world doesn’t seem to agree that the word even exists.
At around 11pm I sneak out.
I’ve done it a thousand times, mom drinks a little too much wine and I waltz right out the front door.
I heard this group of kids today talk about some café called the “Walkie Talkie” and how they have poetry slams almost nightly
The name is horrendous, but I like a good poetry reading so why not.
Before leaving I put a binder on, and shoved all my hair into a hat.
This is a new town, I figure why not go out as Kels and see what they think.
When I find the café I notice a line to get in, it must be a popular spot.
I get in line and an immediately shoved out of it.
“Hey what’s your problem!” The boy who shoved me looks shoved.
“I don’t like… your kind”
My kind? Is this dude for real.
I’m about to retaliate when a man comes out of nowhere and shoved the aggressor to the ground.
“Say you’re sorry.” He says in a deep, serious voice.
“S-sorry man. Geez”
This new hero smiles, and turns to me.
“Apology accepted?” He’s asks.
I shut my mouth, not realizing my jaw had dropped. Stunned by this kind stranger.
I just nod, still looking at him wide eyed.
He takes my hand and leads me ahead of the line.
“Me and my friend would like to enter your fine establishment please.” He says with a smile.
At first I’m thinking, who does he think he is just cutting the line like that.
But then the door man shakes his head smiling.
“Drew, you really are a piece of work. Go in and stop causing trouble.”
Drew smiles and tips his invisible hat to the door man.
“Thank you kind sir”
Then he drags me along behind him.
What is happening right now.
We walk over to a table filled with the most bizar looking humans I have ever seen in my life.
They can tell that I’ve never seen humans like them before because they’re all smiling and one of them even says,
“Yes, we’re fabulous. We know.”
Then group laughs, then drew introduces them all and includes their pronouns, which I did not know people did when introducing themselves.
I only retain three of their names.
Cassandra, who’s dressed from head to toe in blush pink, wearing 6” heals and the most make up I’ve seen in anyone. She’s about 6’4” and has the most well kept beard I’ve ever seen.
Devin, a tiny gay with skin tight booty shorts on and glitter all over his face.
Then there’s Lacy, the world stops when I see Lacy.
Or at least it feels that way.
She has blue eyes you could swim in, brown locks down past her shoulders and freckles. I love freckles.
After he’s done giving the run down of names, and I’m done drooling over, Lacy Drew turns to me and says,
“And this is… huh.”
He says, realizing he’s not actually introduced himself to me, nor have I introduced myself to him.
“Where are my manners. Hello, my name is Drew. I use the pronouns He/Him.” He extends his hand to shake mine.
I’ve never thought about my pronouns, and they’re going to expect me to give them something.
I shake his hand, and say
“My name is Kels, My pronouns are.. uh”
I know they’re not she/her. I internally gag just thinking about it.
But are they he/him?
The group sees me struggling and one of them speaks up, I think their name was Leon.
“New to pronouns?”
I nod, nervous that I’ve embarrassed myself in-front of these people.
“No problem sweetly, I struggled for years to find mine. I use them all. Some days I feel more like he/him. Some days she/her. Sometimes they/then works best for me. Pronouns are personal. If you don’t know yours yet, no big deal.”
I speak up.
“Definitely not she/her.”
They accept this and we all move on.
They ask about me, where I’m from why I’m here. I tell them everything, I’m not sure why. I’ve just met these people, but in the 10-20 minutes I’ve known them. I’ve never felt more accepted, it was freeing.
The whole time I see people staring at us, and Drew leans in and says, “ don’t mind them. This town is full of nosy people with nothing better to do than talk about the queers. Ignore them, I promise it’ll make your life a whole lot better.“
This prompts me to tell them why we moved.
I explain about the church. All of them just shake their heads, sorry expressions on their faces.
A lot of them had similar stories of not being accepted, I felt warmth fill my body as I sit here with people who have similar stories. I never knew I wasn’t the only one.
Drew tells me he’s trans and that he was kicked out of his house at the age of 18 because his parents didn’t accept him.
“I told them, one page of the Bible isn’t worth a life. But they didn’t care.”
“That’s a great quote.”
“The village, by wrabel. Great song great song.”
The poetry was subpar, but I wouldn’t trade this night for anything.
We walk home and make an impromptu stop at Drew’s house, this man I’ve never met invites me into his home and I just go. We’re really living dangerously today aren’t we Kels.
When I leave, I’m practically bald.
Drew told me about how when he first shaved his head after coming out that is ‘freed’ him. I wanted to be free.
Leaving his house, feeling the cool night air on my head. He was right.
Ive never felt more free in my life, I’ve never felt more… me.
My biggest take away from this night is that there are other people out there like me. There is life beyond high school. And I will make it through. Especially with my new friends by my side.
Last night I learned that Lacy actually goes to my school. So the next day, tired from the night before, we walk into school together.
Before entering the school, Lacy noticed how nervous I am.
“The hair?” She asks. Knowing thats what’s on my mind most of all.
I just nod, me and Lacy had stayed up all night talking. We really had a lot in common.
“It looks killer.” She says, smiling at me.
I melt a little, she’s so beautiful.
She takes my hand, and says,
“Inhale.” Inhaling with me
“Exhale,” we both breathe out together.
“You can do this.”
I can’t help but smile.
One night, my life had changed forever.
We walk through the doors and people are instantly staring.
They look at me, then my head, then to me and Lacy’s interlocked fingers.
I can see the whispers starting. I can guess what they’re saying
Gay. Gay. Gay. Bald. Gay. Boy? Girl? New girl? New boy? Gay.
Lacy squeezes my hand tighter, and we walk.
We don’t even make it two steps before the girl who tripled me in the cafeteria is in my face.
“Are you a boy or a girl? I just can’t tell between the clothes and the hair.”
Lacy starts to pull me away, but I’m not going to spend the rest of my High school career this way.
I match the girls intensity, and get back in her face.
“I’m a boy. Do you have a problem with that?”
She starts to speak, I can see the word Dyke forming on her lips but I cut her off.
“Keep it to yourself. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names just piss me off. Do you want to finish that sentence or do you want to turn around and walk away?”
A group had formed around us. Do they think I’m actually about to fight her? No way. I just want her to leave me alone.
She glances around, calculating her next move.
A simple, “hmph” and she turns around, whipping me in the face with her hair.
The group dispersed, disappointed that a fight didn’t break out.
Lacy walks back to my side, smiling.
“That was hot.”
I break out in an incredibly dorky grin? Unable to help it.
“Yeah?” I ask, looking at her.
I’m feeling brave, I think.
“I’m going to do something, and you’re not going to freak out. Or if you are going to freak out you’re going to wait until I’m not within site to do so. Okay?”
Okay.” She says. Her grin lessening but still curious.
Then I kiss her, in the middle of the school hallway. Having just come out to the entire school body. Stood up to that witch of a human. Now lip locked with who I deemed to be the hottest girl probably on the face of the planet.
Forget feeling free, I was floating 10 feet off the ground.
And I was loving every second of it.