I remember my first day of my Freshman year at Collinsville High. I was nervous. I'd heard all the rumors and stories of older kids torturing, teasing and tricking freshmen on their first day. Most likely I would be one of the protected ones. I was friends with enough older students to keep me safe. There was always someone looking out for me, but I was nervous none the less. Though I had older friends, I did not have older siblings at the school. I could never say "My brother's going to kick your ass for that." I could, because he totally would have, but he'd have to leave his job and drive the twenty minutes up from Tulsa to do it. My sister graduated high school the year before I started my freshman year and got married. I was officially on my own. But I'd always been the baby who wasn't a baby. Still, I had more than the usual first day of school jitters that day.
The day turned out to be fine. No one teased me or threatened me. I found all my classes. It was just a normal day, but after my last class, as I walked down the hall to my locker, I noticed my sister leaning against it. I don't know why, but I was so relieved to see her. I remember asking her "what are you doing here!?" and Janell said that she just wanted to make sure my first day had gone well. Then she took me to Sonic and gave me a ride home. Even thinking about it now, I remember that I was just so happy to see her. There was always a part of me that felt slightly abandoned when Janell moved out. Randy didn't count. I didn't remember the time he lived in the house with us. I was used to his absence. Plus I knew that I could call him or Katrina at any time and they'd come rescue me. Which they did on a number of occasions. But Janell had always been there. And then she wasn't. She graduated, moved out and got married all in a matter of weeks. I think that was the summer I moved in to Randy and Katrina's to avoid the isolation and the constant bickering of my parents. Janell showing up at school without any prompting just made things better that day. I felt less abandoned.
Yesterday was Janell's birthday. She shares it with Dad. I used to tell stories here about Dad on his birthday knowing he'd never read them. It made it easier to write things, knowing that Dad wouldn't read it. Not that I write anything that I think would be bad. I tell the truth and sometimes people don't like it when I tell the truth. I've sort of censored myself. Dad was a topic I never really worried about censoring. I never worried about him judging the words I'd chosen or flipping them around into something negative. I don't know why I didn't feel like writing about him this year. I didn't even really acknowledge the day at all beyond wishing Janell a Happy Birthday. I'm sure it's difficult for her sharing this day with Dad, all the years of joint birthday celebrations. Maybe she's the one feeling slightly abandoned now. I hope she reads this and feels less abandoned.