They say that as a teacher, there will be certain names that, when you hear them, they will bring war-like flashbacks, causing you to curl into a fetal position for a few hours wondering when the next attack might happen. This is kind of true! Today however, I want to talk about a name that started to influence my life way before I was a teacher. That name is Sarah or Sara. Yes – both versions. I know I usually don’t use real names, but I kind of have to for this. Over the next few days, I’ll tell you about all the Sara(h)s in my life.
The first Sarah that I can remember in my life was from my kindergarten to grade 8 life. She lived one street over from me in the small town that my family lived in. She always wanted to be my friend, even up until I moved away in grade 8 – although I know I didn’t always deserve her friendship.
She was held back a grade because she had a mild mental disability. We bonded over many things when it was still ok for me to be her friend, one of those things being we both had bright orange hair. Her family wasn’t as well off as most in our town, and her older brother was probably one of my first childhood crushes. They had two great big chowchows and her family was really nice to me – always inviting me over, and treating me well.
By the time I was in grade 4 or so, it was no longer acceptable by the other children to be friends with her. Our friendship started to dwindle to be a summer thing – during the school year I would avoid her, but in the summer we would hang out all the time. My family was one of the only ones in town with a pool, so we spent a lot of time over the summer enjoying the water.
During the school year, she started to take part in things like The Special Olympics. It was a special track and field event for exceptional students – with mental and physical disabilities. She always wanted me to be her coach. Thinking back on it, it was really sweet. I always got at least one day off of school to go with her to the event, with the other students and coaches from the school. I was there just to cheer her on and make sure she got to all her events on time and such.
Once, when I was in grade 6 or 7, I got a short hair cut with bangs. Now I’m pretty sure that I was copying one of the “cool girls” with the bangs, but then Sarah decided to copy me. But she didn’t get her hair cut by a professional, she just pulled her “bangs” out in front of her face, took a pair of scissors, and cut as close to the hair line as she could. It was a disaster! I’m embarrassed to say that 12 year old T mocked her for it. I did a few really bad things to her which I can’t believe my younger self would do.
I was a horrible friend to Sarah – I was ashamed that she was my friend. Like I said, after a certain point, it was no longer acceptable for me to be her friend, at least to those girls in the class that decided such things, and I was influenced by them. I started to become mean and tease her, trying to make it look like I was fitting in, going with the flow.
But in reality, she was probably my only true friend at that school. At least until grade 7 when a new girl moved to town. The one thing about small towns is that if you’re not born there, you basically will never fit it. At least in the town that I lived in. Since I had moved there in kindergarten, I was always that outsider. So when A moved to town it was nice to have someone who knew my struggle as an outsider.
All Sarah ever wanted was to be my friend. She put no caviots on the friendship, no extra strings. She just wanted a friend, and for those first few years she was a great one to me. Until I started being influenced by others around me. Something I can’t say that I’m proud of. I did some pretty mean things to her. Things I can’t take back, which really sucks. But her friendship did put a start to a long line of Sarah’s. I’ll tell you about another one tomorrow.