They used to tell me that high school was the best time of life and, even at that tender age, I thought incredulously that I hoped it wasn't so. We high school kids were so judgemental, and so critical of each other and of ourselves. So very unkind.
You'll think I'm mean, and you'll be right, but I remember that awful feeling at a dance when I'd be looking hopelessly at the cute boys and wishing one of them would come my way and then, from somewhere way out of my field of vision, there would come one of those guys that I'd never noticed before except maybe in math class for being so smart. One of the pimply ones who didn't know how to saunter; didn't know where to put his arms when walking; in short, someone who was just as self-conscious as I was. Someone who was probably thinking, with his smart vocabulary, "That poor girl, I'd better rescue her while she still has a shred of self esteem left."
And there I'd be, with another project on my hands. Someone I needed to be nice to, someone I couldn't let down, while all the time he probably considered that he was the one taking on the project. Neither of us would ever know the truth--there was precious little communication between genders in those early days.
It was the same when it came to clubs, the kind you had to be invited to join. There was the club for popular girls, and there was the other one for all the rest of us. Definitely second tier. I grew to know my place, but that didn't make me any kinder.
All past meanness is eventually rewarded. That's how I ended up here in my accidental prairie home. Not the New Mexico of the little adobe houses and the soft sound of Spanish being spoken and the sight of sharp mountains against an early morning sky. Nope, I got the New Mexico of the flat land, dairy flies, and bad health care. Not the New Mexico of the Indian pueblos and the fragrant piñon fires and the hanging red chile ristras. Nope, I got the New Mexico that smells of chemical fertilizer on good days, manure piles from the dairies on not so good days, and abject fear from the stockyards on the worst days. And not the New Mexico where people of all kinds are accepted, but the New Mexico where there are 17 kinds of Baptists, angry with each other and with someone else, who are all convinced that people who are different (maybe gay, maybe Democrat) can be changed as long as they accept the Lord.
It's a good place for a second tier girl, remembering past unkindnesses.