BELONGING OR NO

HOMEDELL SCHOOL . . . . now offices

I learned early on about not belonging. It came from the 13 boys in the neighborhood and no girls until I was about 9 or 10. That’s a lot of formative years and trying to fit in. It’s what toughened me up and I learned to work harder, hiding my tears when I was hurt, couldn’t let them show, not in a bunch of boys. They would have shunned me for sure.
It was in kindergarten that I found my first friend who didn’t fit in either. He didn’t because Nathaniel was black. In a school of 7 grades, one being kindergarten, and less than 20 kids per grade, there were only 5 black kids in the school. We also had a couple Jewish families, a Mexican family, a couple Irish families, several Italian families, some Polish families, and a family from down south. A block over from my house was Gail, who was blind but she went to a special school for the blind in Trenton.
Our kindergarten class was scheduled to perform on stage at the end of the school year. We had learned to play instruments like triangles, birds (that had water in them and gave a whistle sound) and jingle bells on a string. We also had to perform a dance at which Nathaniel became my partner. I chose him because he was different. I already knew about not belonging and sensed that he knew it too. We remained friends until he moved to Trenton in the fourth or fifth grade.
Of course I did have classmates that were girlfriends even in kindergarten but they lived blocks away. I didn’t get a 2-wheeled bike until I was in second grade. Then I could ride the whole neighborhood (about 8 blocks long and 4 blocks deep surrounded by major roadways) but by then friendships had already been formed and I was always the third person out. I ventured to ride to Nathaniel’s which was on the far side of the square. He only got to my house once because he didn’t have a bike and it was a long way to walk. I pretty much remained a loner until the fourth or fifth grade when Roberta moved a block away from me.
I learned about belonging or not, about being different early in life and it remained with me until I finally embraced it as a blessing. It gave me leadership opportunities, pushed me with courage and taught me to make my own place.

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4 Comments

Filed under Memoir, women, women writers, women's stories, wormen writing

4 responses to “BELONGING OR NO

  1. Dawn Dleen Mullen

    Homedell School a good starting point for us both. I posted just today about the coal heat we enjoyed for those 7 elementary years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It was a good neighborhood to grow up in.

    Like

  3. Wonderful, Arlene. I’m sharing it in a couple of other places. There’s a big place for you in MY world. ((hug))

    Like

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