On a random trip to one of my [many] hometowns – Arlington, TX – I stumbled upon what once was my junior high school. I attended grades 7 through 9 from Fall 1989 to Spring 1992. I recall it being extremely segregated…roughly 30% Asian, 30% Black, 30% Latino, and 10% Caucasian. Fights broke out almost daily and no one would admit to caring about their grades. It was a shitty school, to say the least…but to see it being demolished right before my eyes left me feeling somewhat gutted. The entire campus was fenced off and grungy men in tractors were working the scene. Something tells me they were not renovating.
A flood of ancient memories came rushing back. This was where I had my first boyfriend and experienced my first [slobbery] kiss! Mom was going to Ogle School of Cosmetology at the time so I had the luxury of sporting a spiral perm – my long curly locks were the subject of envy! We were dirt poor and had to sew at home to make extra income. I was taught at a very young age to make and spend my own money. As an impressionable teenager, I remember buying a pair of prized Girbaud jeans for $90 and trying to maximize my spend by wearing them to school twice a week. My best friend at the time still pokes fun of me to this day about those over-worn jeans.
This was also where I served my first and only week-long detention…for fighting during recess. I’ll never forget that dreadful day. Conflict started in the morning during physical ed as I was defending a helpless asian girl from being bullied by a black girl. Rumors of an impending fight began to swirl during lunch and I was warned to ready myself. Fortunately, I found triumph during that schoolyard fight but it came at the expense of losing gobs of gorgeous hair!
Junior high was rough. I had to downplay my interest in school for fear of being an outcast. I was pressured to share my homework and help others pass their exams. I was teased for being friends with a black girl named Marguerite because the school was so racially divided. We exchanged letters well after I moved to Houston for high school but we’ve lost contact since. Many of the people I knew from that time never made it to or through high school let alone college. The vortex of academic disruption spared me for some godly reason.
Despite it all, “Hutch,” as we used to call it, will always have a place in my heart. Before I was chased away by one of the grungy construction guys for anchoring myself on their perimeter fence, I was able to capture this shot: