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FUN A DAY 2019 #1: 'Bitter Grace'

She wasn’t particularly tall, but she was lanky, and she had ‘olive tone’ skin (“…whatever that means,” I remember thinking the first time I heard the expression as a kid); she was seemingly a more...

She wasn’t particularly tall, but she was lanky, and she had ‘olive tone’ skin (“…whatever that means,” I remember thinking the first time I heard the expression as a kid); she was seemingly a jumble of skinny arms and legs that were covered in light blonde peach fuzz and stuck out from her uniform in an awkward, endearing kind of way. Her hair was long, a strange light reddish color (but then, a lot of middle school girls had red in their hair at some point during the 1994-1995 school year and television season, during which the one season of My So-Called Life aired), and it wasn’t curly, but it refused to lie flat or hang straight. Her eyebrows, even lighter than her hair, were barely there, and her eyes were dark and small and sleepy. Her shoulders always seemed to be relaxed, or too relaxed, hunched, and her lips were always pressed tight together. //
She wore the same uniform as the rest of us girls, but she looked and seemed different than everyone else at school, and I felt different when I was near her. For a long time, I’d assumed that it was her gift for on-trend, cutting edge accessorizing: she wore plastic drug store barrettes in her hair (I would find out the hard way the following summer that my hair was too curly and thick for them), chipping black, grey, and red polish on her short nails, and black jelly bracelets, and a calculator watch like some of the boys in my class wore on her wrists. I would stare at them when we ran into each other in the girls’ room after recess, while I listened to her talk about Nirvana; her face didn’t seem all tight and tired when she talked about them. I wasn’t really friends with her, but some of the kids I talked to at school were friends with her and the other eighth graders, and they had it on good authority that when she took ‘Frances’ as her confirmation name (everyone’s confirmation names were displayed on the wall outside the eighth grade classrooms, written on the construction paper leaves on a cardboard tree), it was for Frances Bean, though her official story was that it was for St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. //
We went to different high schools, and I only saw her once after we’d both graduated, on the bus, on a random September afternoon. Her hair was still that same auburn color, but it was a little shorter, tucked behind her ears, and her bangs were very short. She was wearing ripped jeans and a flannel button-down shirt over a Hole t shirt, and carrying what looked like a math text book and a notebook. I watched as she got on the bus, found a seat across from me, and she started doodling in the notebook. In retrospect, she looked notably more Kurt than Courtney, so to speak, and I was quietly enthralled by it, but couldn’t articulate why. I didn’t say anything to her, but she looked up from her notebook and grinned at me, a sort of ‘we’re both on this bus’ kind of grin. I knew at the time that it didn’t mean very much, or anywhere near what I didn’t even know what I wanted it to mean. When I think about it now, I think, she was kind; how cool is that?


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6 tracks
  • 18min
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  • 10 months ago