The year was 1985; I was almost twelve years old and turned to writing after “winning” my first, and only, fist fight with someone who was not my sister. Michael Jackson tells Paul McCartney “I’m a lover not a fighter” on his Thriller album and although that perfectly described my personality, my former best friend and I planned our pre-teen, angst over nothing fist fight to take place in another friend’s backyard anyway. I knew there was no way I would win the fight because no matter how scrappy I was, she was actually a tough girl but, regardless, I bragged how I would win all the way to the scene of the crime after school that day.
As in any school there were cliques of kids from uber popular all the way to nerdier than nerd and everything in between. Geek, that was us. Some of us had boyfriends but mostly we were just a bunch of girls trying to survive our last few months in grammar school and fit in wherever we could. I was also still trying to adjust to life at home since my parents got divorced a few years prior. It all took a toll on me so the rationalization in my head was that I could unleash all this pent up fury onto her and finally release it. Since we were dorks, girls, and only eleven, I certainly never expected a crowd of popular kids to show up to watch us fight but there they were, cheering and clapping.
The moment her gold rings connected with my face I knew I was grounded. I never experienced what Boxers call “seeing red” or “going in the zone”. Other than witnessing the sky twice as my head flung backwards from the force of her fist and the royal blue shirt she was wearing I did not absorb anything from the fight itself. Instead I took in everything that was going on around me as if I had stepped outside myself and looked in on the scene. In the middle of the circle of popular kids were these two dolts; one was throwing fists at the face of the other, likely seeing her own mother’s face, and the other was too afraid to hit the other in the face, for fear her own mother would get sued. Guess which one was me. I pounded with all my rage on her stomach and then as fast as it all seemed to happen, that royal blue shirt became a flash down my friend’s driveway. She ran.
For mere moments, I was the most popular bloody kid in school. I finally had tunnel vision, straight down the driveway to the sidewalk where her blue shirt had disappeared. I was surrounded by people who hated me daily and while they cheered, clapped and patted me on the back, they laughed at my former friend as she scurried home. I was revered for thirty seconds because in the eyes of the world around me, I had won the fight. I could have capitalized on my new found fame and built a whole new me out of the reputation. I could have turned to popularity in stature but I looked around and realized that although they were smiling, they would be bogus friends. Instead of schmoozing with the rich and famous sixth graders, I ran into my friend’s house and put some frozen meat on my eye. In the end, I ran too, and everyone went home.
Things in school went back to usual after the fight, my group of friends were once again picked on incessantly, but something in me shifted that day and I no longer cared what they thought or how they saw me. I started writing very shortly after that and really credit my former friend for helping me keep my sanity all these years by releasing emotions through a pen onto paper instead of something more destructive. I truly thank her for essentially being my initial catalyst of inspiration.