I moved to the south when I was very little. 1st grade actually. I grew up on a small island off the coast of Georgia. Some of my fondest memories start there.
St. Simons Island.
St Simons is absolutely beautiful. An island off the coast of Georgia, with beaches, marshes, azalea bushes, alligators, horses, grand oaks, spanish moss, shrimp boats, historic sites, humidity, southern charm, and salty sea air. When people ask me where I am from, I describe several places. I love them in their own special way.
In St Simons, I went to private school, Frederica Academy specifically, until 5th grade. I was a very awkward little girl. I hit puberty extremely early which was also extremely traumatic. All of my female classmates were cute and little and came from extreme wealthy families. They dressed in the most expensive clothes from cute little kid boutiques, had every cool toy, and had massive houses.
I was blessed with breasts very early and was the tallest in my class for years. I would sweat like a boy at recess which would make my hair look like a mushroom. My clothes were overly mature for my age, thanks to my Mom who was very chic, but clueless about what was cool for a kid.
I started my period in 4th grade which was excruciatingly embarrassing. I knew very little about “becoming a woman” because my mother taught me nothing about anything, ever. To my delight in summer camp, at 9 years old, this blessed event happened and my camp counselor congratulated me as if this were something to celebrate. I wanted to run away and hide forever. I was horrified, sad, embarrassed, and alone.
I attended Catholic school during 6th grade, Saint Francis Xavier, in which I was in and out of detention constantly.
Well, Georgia was my home until about 7th grade when my Dad moved us up to South Carolina, which I consider my second home. I have some of the worst memories of my life there, and some of the best. That’s another blog.
I made friends with boys as I didn’t quite fit the mold as a little southern belle. I loved being a girl, but girls didn’t really love me. I tried really hard to make girlfriends and recalled a sleepover or two, but never remember my grade school years as being very fun. I was excluded a lot and remember walking around during recess trying to find someone to play with. Even in grade school, cliques hung out and played together, and left the less popular to wander around. This was made worse when my Mom cut my hair short like a boy. It was a haircut for an 80’s adult.
All I wanted was a ponytail like Jasmine Jones. She would walk in a way that made her ponytail swing back and forth and always had a bow in it. Well, now that was not going to happen anytime soon, it would take many years to grow my hair back. My short hair was embarrassing and ruined what little self esteem I had for a very very long time.
I wanted friends, an embroidered smock dress with a monogram, and bow on the shoulder, and in my hair. I wanted a southern family, a home where there were a lot of laughter, walks on the beach, and low country boils.