I have exactly three memories from middle school gym class.
The first involves practicing volleyball serves alone against the wall because I had failed my skill test for that sport. Coincidentally, I believe I failed the skill test for every sport.
The details are a little foggy on the second, but it boiled down to a misunderstanding that found me shoved up against a locker, cowering in the face of press-on fingernails and fake eyelashes, grateful her roar seemed to be worse than her follow-through.
And the third found a group of emerging adolescent pre-teen girls discussing the more intimate details of growing up. One girl confidentially confessed her bra size was a 30 AAA, and I, desperate to fit in and having no idea what a bra size even meant, piped up, “me too.”
Not three minutes later the girl laughed off her confession, announcing, “Just kidding, of course. Nobody’s are that small.”
Realizing I’d been caught, I piped up again, whispering this time, “oh, me too. I was just kidding too.”
I turned on the debate tonight and found myself confused and stressed out by all the fake smiling and interrupting. I put it on mute so that I could still feel responsible without my stomach hurting. While the VP candidates duked it out, I revisited an old favorite book, pen in hand. I haven’t been able to make the switch to Kindles or Nooks, mainly because of that pen. An ultra fine point black sharpie to be precise.
And tonight I re-read words from Cold Tangerines, words I wish I’d written; ones that make my heart ache and my eyes widen because somebody else has put in print the words I’ve scribbled in my journal. And I touched my sharpie to page after page after page, frantically filling in the margin,
Over and over again I wrote the words. me too. me too. me too.
My middle school self illegitimately offered those words hoping they would earn me a place of belonging, longing for the appearance of intimacy even if it was false.
Today I know better. I’m more careful with my me too’s, and yet I want to lavish them abundantly. They are
no longer not as often wishful hopes of fitting in, and more often from a place of knowing and being known.
And I’m not sure if they’re attempts to communicate, “you are not alone” or if they’re actually more like a chant inside my head, a rhythm to my breathing, “i am not alone, i am not alone, i am not alone.”
But every time we speak them, we’re breaking down the lie of rejection. of isolation. of misunderstanding and division.
Be generous with your me too’s today.
Image credit :: aarongilson, creative commons.