I have blocked most of my school years out. Lately I have been thinking about those years for my book and I realize that I actually did not like school. When I was young, really young, before my father died even, I would do anything to stay home from school and be with my mom. I hated school then.
I see my nephew Blaise starting kindergarten and how excited he is to be getting on the bus and to be wearing his oversized backpack. I literally feigned sickness so I didn’t have to go. I would have rather stayed home and watch soap operas and eat pickles.
In 11th or 12th, I got an F in gym class. In P.E. In whatever the heck you call it. Oh, the irony. (I am a yoga teacher now.)
I would take my car and leave the premises and go home. This was not allowed, but I did it anyway, almost every day during the latter part of my high school years. I have blocked most of it out but I would leave during gym class, or study hall, or lunch, or any other time I could. Just to escape. During this time I was also severely anorexic and all my thoughts were consumed by what I had eaten or what I was going to eat. I could not be bothered with going to gym class. I could not be bothered with much.
Gym class alternated between things like archery and tennis, track and golf. Archery? Things I didn’t care about. I was horrible at P.E. and math and science (except physics which is an inexplicable fact that I will never understand.) A shell of a person, I sped away from school and went home for one or two hours. I have no idea what I did at home. I can’t remember. Maybe I exercised. I exercised hours a day back then. This was before the internet so I wasn’t at home playing on Facebook. Maybe I stared at a wall.
I think I just wanted to be by myself.
I got thinner and thinner, as close as I could get to not existing. When I drove home illegally during school hours in my little grey VW Fox I could pretend I was alone in the world. I was safe in the cocoon of my house on Madison Avenue in Cherry Hill, NJ, but I could pretend I was completely alone and that there were no ringing bells at the end of every hour or stairs to climb to get to pre-calculus. I could pretend there were no lunch periods where I’d hide in the library so I wouldn’t get forced into eating. I could pretend that I was a shell and not a person who felt things and had to eat food.
I have recurring dreams. Now, in my thirties. Three major ones.
The tidal wave. That’s one.
Two and three are the math and gym class dreams.
I am failing math and gym in my dream all the time. I am not graduating high school in my dream because I haven’t passed algebra and I have gotten a D or an F in gym. I wake up sweating from these dreams.
So here is what I have deducted. I still hate math and am pretty ambivalent about gym class. I am not very good at sports. I was very bad at archery. The point is that my life was not affected by my poor math skills. Nor was it changed my my ditching gym class or my inability to kick a soccer ball.
My life was changed by the choices I made.
Just as it is now.
I thrive when I am passionate about something. I thrive when it is something I want to do. I realize that as kids, and in high school, and often in our jobs as adults, we don’t always have that luxury to be passionate about what we are doing.
I am passionate about writing. You may hate writing. That’s the beauty of life. We go after what we are passionate about. We do what we love. Hopefully.
Now, was it the best choice for me to just leave school and go home and ignore what I had to do simply because I wasn’t very good at it and I didn’t like it? I don’t know. But I did it. It’s done. It’s out there floating in the timeline of my life.
I was a dancer when I was a little girl and I quit because I was uncoordinated. Gym class brings back those feelings of two left feet. That panic. That being on the stage in a sparkly tutu and having absolutely no clue what is going on.
So I failed gym and went on to NYU.
I remember the shock when I saw the F on my report card. Who fails gym class? I remember thinking and then actually laughing because I knew it was a sign. My life would be full of unexpected F’s. It would also be filled with many A’s and Wins.
I will never go to another math class as long as I live and most likely never go to another gym class either.
I failed gym because I never went. I literally didn’t show up.
I am showing up now.
Where can you show up in your own life?
Where have you gotten an F because you didn’t show up? It’s like me in my acting years. I never booked a job because I never wanted it. I walked around moping that I was failing when I wasn’t even showing up. It was like me getting in my little grey VW Fox and driving away and then being upset that no one picked me for the job.
Not showing up in the cop-out. And, that’s fine if that’s your choice. No big deal. Choose one way or the other. But then don’t whine about failing because you weren’t good at it if it’s because you really just didn’t show up to kick the ball.
And it’s ok too if you aren’t good at everything. I suck at math. There I said it. I count on my fingers.
Just. Show. Up.