I was never the tantrum-thrower. I was the oldest of six and felt like my job was the peacekeeper, breaking up fights and negotiating conflicts. I want to say it was my 13th birthday because I felt like it was a milestone, but memory is unreliable and kids feel like every birthday is a milestone. But, because I was so quiet and reserved, I won’t ever forget breaking down at the lack of birthday festivities on my behalf. So, I was a child throwing a tantrum. It began as a conversation but then I was sent to my room when the conversation made me dissolve into tears. I felt unloved. I felt deserving of a celebration and crushed that my parents did not seem to agree. I felt marginalized, like everyone else got to be the focus of attention on their special days but when it was my turn, the whole system collapsed. And I also felt catharsis as I screamed and cried in my bed, punching and kicking the wall, making myself as much of a disturbance as I could manage. At one point, my parents yelled at me and told me it was enough but I didn’t stop until I was too tired to continue. I dream about that level of unleashed expression, especially in times of intense despair.

*seventh grade spirit week

in seventh grade, we had a school spirit week with themed days and everyone in the school would come dressed appropriately to the theme. one of the days was “clash day” and you had to come to school in clothes that clashed. i don’t remember the exact outfit but i remember i’d combined purple and green, two colors i thought inherently clashed. during school, one teacher said to me, “i thought you’d have trouble with this one.” her tone was endeared, like she was amused or thought it was cute, but i never understood what she meant by that.