Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Vanessa in Me

Me and Vanessa go back a long way. There are so many stories about us and how we clash together and fight and cry and give each other the silent treatment ... but there are also stories of how we've been the ones holding onto each other when someone feels like letting go, and the people supporting one another. I've always known that this is because we're so alike. 

We're both leaders. We're both supporters. We're both selfish. We both brag. We both have our stories. We're both careful. We're both smart. And twice now, we've liked the same guys. {That, of course, is the source of most of the problems. I could write you a hundred books on last year. But I won't. Not today anyway.}

But we're different too, and I'm starting to grow farther apart from the person I thought we were, because I'm seeing Vanessa as a whole new person. Okay, I always knew things about her, but see ... we're similar, in different ways.

Today, we played wallyball in PE. I was so proud of myself in PE today, because I've grown to really love that class when last year I basically dreaded it. I dreaded changing into my PE clothes that make me seem not-that-skinny and I hated push-ups and running and all the dumb sports we did. Last year, I would've hated wallyball. It's a version of volleyball where you can bounce the ball of the wall, which isn't too different to grasp. Hitting balls around with my forearms gets them bright red and my wrists and fingers are having issues, but I didn't really complain today. Like my dance teacher says, It hurts so good.

So this morning I ran all four laps around the two gyms. I ran all of them. Usually I'd have to walk half. But today I set my pace with Orqua, and we ran side-by-side and kept up a conversation too. And at the last stretch, I sprinted and raised my arms and said "Woo!" 

I was a team player today. When one of the girls was struggling to finish after everybody else was having their drink, I called her name and she smiled.

So we went to play wallyball, and split into teams of three and four. Mots of the girls in my lunch group {who are all fabulous at sports, unlike me} were already grouping together, and so I turned to Georgie and said "Wanna be on my team?"

She nodded gratefully, and then I turned to Sparrow, who was on my team last time and was sitting on the bench, lonely. I asked her the same question I asked Georgie and got the same reaction.

Sparrow actually wasn't lonely on the bench. Next to her was Di, who I also have a long history with. Di is not one of my favorite people. She is one of my least favorite people, and one of the few people in this world I seriously, seriously hate. She used to be my best friend, and let's just say she's too far gone to recover. The funny thing is how none of it's my fault, but today I was thinking that maybe I could save what I could.

"Hey Di," I said, saying her name to her for the first time in what might've been quite a while, actually, "Want to be on my team?"

And she looked at me and gave me a sort of smirk but she said yes because she was lonely with Sparrow too and nobody wants her on their team but, apparently, me.

Somehow, though, I liked my team, and I was smiling as I headed into the racquetball court to start our first game. We lost it 15-0. The next one we lost again, 15-1. Then we lost one last time 15-5. But by that time I'd stopped caring. 

This is what I was doing instead.

I was standing in whatever spot I was doing, and being team leader. I learned, instead of waiting for someone else to hit the ball, to assume they weren't and leap there. I laughed when I accidentally spiked the ball, which is my natural reaction when it comes towards me. I laughed when the other team scored, and clapped for them. I cheered my teammates on, even Di, when it was their turn to serve. I gave them tips when they looked unsure and told them they could do it. My thumb was always up and I clapped and our scores got higher and higher. Teammates were screaming other teammates names and taking my cue to laugh and I was smiling so hard it felt the smile was going to fall off of my face. 

Just another way of spreading it, though.

By the time we were over, I was sweating. I had played my best. We'd lost, but I could tell that my teammates and everybody that I'd played had had fun. And that was my goal, so I was happy.

Then I saw Vanessa. I knew that she hadn't been included because Orqua and August
 and another girl had formed a threesome that basically dominated, but our coach had to have a team of three and they were it. I walked next to Vanessa, helping her clean up, and asked her who was on her team. 

She was on a team of good players, but she didn't seem to like it. "The thing about it is," she said, "is that I hate being with people who aren't, you know, like no offense or anything, as good as me. I don't like when I'm the only one who does anything. It's just so frustrating."

We walked down the hallways too, and instead of going early to lunch I stayed behind to wait for her. She didn't thank me, but Georgie {who had stayed behind with Vanessa} did. And I got stories about how Vanessa didn't want to go to Science because she didn't like that class because she didn't like the people in it. 

And this was one of those times that the bragger in me came out and told her about how I sit in the back corner on a table with a shy girl who hardly ever talks and everybody thinks is a little annoying, and a guy who's one of those people who hardly does anything, and a new girl who isn't part of our lunch group. They aren't any of the people that Vanessa want in her class, or probably ever will. They're people that Vanessa will be nice to, of course, but not anyone she wants to be with. And with Vanessa, she'll be unhappy because she didn't get chosen for the team of three.

This is where I bit my lip because there are some good things nobody understands the importance of. I didn't go up against Vanessa and her team during wallyball, but I wanted to. Last time, I was the one nobody asked if I wanted to be on a team with. I was with the people who nobody wanted to be on a team with. This time, I chose them to be on my team because I wanted them to feel important. I treated them like they were important, and they were all smiling. Even Di, who learned how to serve and didn't complain once when she didn't make it. Instead, she laughed.

Di isn't my best friend. Georgie is, but she isn't too great of a wallyball player. I'm not either. We went up against good teams, and we played good games because they felt good. I wanted to show Vanessa that we're still basically mental twins, but you can learn to change a little bit of who you are to be better. I love sports this year. I'm a good sport this year. I learned to have fun and I'm looking forward to another set of wallyball games on Monday. Vanessa probably isn't. But I gave her advice, and you can't force people to take it.


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