“FLATS!”

Sooooo, first “date” in first grade, and the second date? Let me back up here a bit, and fill in some important information about my life in the years after that first date. In 12 years of schooling, I attended 9 different schools, which means, yes, we moved a lot. Actually, in my first 18 years of life, 19 times. Total so far (and no, I’m not going to tell you how old I am!) 43 moves! I still haven’t met anyone who has moved as many times. Maybe I’m Guiness Book material? And no, my dad was not in the service. He changed jobs, got transferred, went back to school, etc. We used to tell friends and family to write our address in pencil since it was bound to change in the next 12-18 months.

Now, moving a lot is not always a bad thing. I learned to be flexible, I saw a variety of communities and towns, met a wide variety of people, and picked up “y’all” real fast. I learned to live light since my mom had a garage sale every summer to lighten the load in case we had to move quickly.

But, moving so frequently has some down sides; definitely. I was already an introvert so making new friends could be difficult and after saying goodbye so many times, it was getting harder to make the effort. My books, my drawing pad, my flute and piano, and my imagination became my best friends. I used to tape record myself playing my flute and then play duets with myself in my room! Freaked my mom out when she came in looking for who was in there with me! I found ways to fill in the gaps, allowing my fertile imagination and my love for reading help me navigate those days.

I remember getting on the bus in 7th grade and NO ONE would let me sit next to them. NO ONE! The bus driver would yell at me to sit down so she could drive. I developed stomachaches that kept me home but couldn’t tell my parents the real reason it hurt. I was invited to a party with some kids in the neighborhood and sat in the basement, in the dark, while everyone else played “5 minutes in Heaven” which felt like anything but heaven to me! I couldn’t wait to go home and delve into a book! My nickname in 6th grade? Flats! I was so naive it took me awhile to figure out why they called me that! Ohhhh, the embarrassment when I did! I didn’t get into dressing girly, putting on makeup, doing anything with my kinky, curly, unruly hair. I didn’t go to dances (Baptists weren’t allowed to dance in those days!) but did join the pompom squad finally in my junior year of high school. It was as close to dancing I could get without crossing the line! Somewhere in the summer before my senior year, I started to get it together – enough to dress and think more like a high school girl.

So, that second date? It was the summer before my senior year in high school. I was babysitting and a guy from church, Tim S., called me and asked me to go on a double date with him and my friend Sharon and her boyfriend. I said yes then called my friend to tell her. She was shocked that I said yes! Why? I thought she would be happy for me! I had a date! This was progress! Then, she pointed out to me that it was with the other Tim S. from church! The one that was cocky, embarrassing, and that no one in the youth group had a desire to go out with! I thought it was the other Tim S. The nice Tim S.!! My friend convinced me to keep the date and that I could get through it, especially since she was there with me. So, I went. It wasn’t horrible. But, I said “no” when he called for a second date. The crazy thing is, my friend ended up marrying that Tim S. But, that’s a whole ‘nother story!

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