Art Class

I always loved art class. In junior high, it was Jeff Riley and I sitting together all semester exchanging jokes and talking about life while executing each project. We were the best in the class and we knew it, and so took our time, living in our own alternate universe of Garbage Pail Kids and Monty Python skits. We never dated, though he did ask me one time and I—thinking he had finally succumbed to all the other boys' taunts and was just making a joke—refused. Our art relationship was ruined after that. And then, in a nice twist of evil fate, Mom sent my sister and I to a high school in the next town my Freshman year. It was the year I like to refer to as "Hell".

I had no friends, couldn't speak—had no reason to speak—I was too tender for the shift. Huge upperclass boys rammed me into my locker, "F-ing Freshman!" I was growing. My jeans were too tight, and all of a sudden, I felt strange. I hadn't gotten a visit from Aunt Flo yet, but weird things were happening to me, and it wouldn't be long. With no one to talk to, and nothing to hold on to, I drifted miserably to the freak crowd; the gay boy, the fat girl, the mute in thick glasses, the angst-filled young man who stared at me with angry eyes every day at lunch. And then me, lonely silent me.

Every morning Cathy had me start up her huge Pontiac. By the time were headed off down the country roads, the whole neighborhood was filled with a thick layer of smoke from the exhaust. We'd ramble off, praying for the car not to die on the railroad tracks again as it had a few times before. Antifreeze dripped down onto my right foot, leaving a little red mark for the whole year.

Art class was my first foray in the school every morning. Plop down my things. Grab my drawing. Hunch. Then The Doors would start to play—our teacher's favorite band. He was a left-over hippie and I hated how he just left us to work with no direction. But then something happened to me, the music seeped in, the alienation caused something to click in my brain and bred an artist's independence necessary for viewpoint. I began to blossom right there in hell, despite all the shoves and taunts and the freak crowd's strange pull. I had something to carry me through.

Aunt Flo came. Cathy's car died. The next year we went back to our old school where Jeff Riley had already made his way through half the stock of female students. I never did find a place to fit in again, like a ghost wandering in someone else's world. But I had art. And The Doors.


  1. What a moving story. I never found a place to fit in until much later in life. It's just so easy to feel isolated in high school. Recently, I had an old friend contact me (who wasn't really a friend of mine until more recently, to be honest), pining for the old days, and my first thought was, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EFFING MIND???? The last thing I would ever do is go back in time to that hell.

    BUT, something like art (which is definitely something I have to enjoy as a viewer rather than a doer as even my stick figures need labels), can change your life, grounding you, giving you a sense of purpose and direction. Thank goodness for this. For me, it's writing.

    Thank you for such an inspiring post. Now a follower ;)

  2. Thank you, and welcome Carolina! I love that name, by the way. Always thought it was so pretty.

  3. I love learning more about you Amy! What a story, I'm sorry you had trouble fitting in! Kids can be so mean but I'm glad you found a place to fit in and allowed that to move you rather than focusing too much on all the awful things that went on. High School can be so awful at times!

    I've given you an award over at my blog!!

  4. Oh Jen, that's so sweet. Thank you!! I promise to hand it out tomorrow and not hoard it into nothingness as I usually do, haha.

  5. Oh, those horrible teenage years. Yuck. I feel your pain! Hope it all got better for you...

  6. Hi Talli! It definitely got better, as soon as I got a job and a car : )

  7. So many people, so many blogs - yours looked a good one so I chose to drop by - so glad I did. Thank you for sharing your story Amy I think any one of us could identify with what you said, in some part of our lives. Enjoy your art. xxxx

  8. Thank you Molly, I'm pleasantly touched by your words. Glad you stopped by!

  9. That is pretty much how I remember it all too, Amy. I really identified with this lovely story, aside from the fact that my jeans were never too tight.

    Strange Days.

  10. Hello Tom! Ugh, tight jeans. Not so good when you're trying to be invisible. I think I tied a lot of sweaters around my waist that year.

    Good night : )

  11. Great story, Amy. Why are kids so mean? That's something I never understood. Though, sometimes, I think adulthood can be just as bad--in a hush, hush way.

    I hope you had a great weekend!!

  12. We all need to find that safe place, don't we? It's part of our journey and allows us to look back and say, "hey, I made it through THAT, I can make it through anything" :D

    at least, that's how I look back on it.

    I'm lousy at art and so find myself being impressed with those who are gifted in that area. it's cool stuff.

    OH - and, I linked you on my post for tomorrow (It'll go up Mon am) .. it's a link to your Statue of Liberty post from last week and how it fed into a line of inspiration I've been musing on. Hope that's okay!

  13. Wow Tess, it's more than okay. I'm honored!

  14. Brilliant piece, Amy. Love your voice here.



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