When I was a kid I used to think that pork chops and karate chops were the same thing I thought they were both pork chops and because my grandmother thought it was cute and because they were my favourite she let me keep doing it not really a big deal one day before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees I fell out of a tree and bruised the right side of my body I didn’t want to tell my grandmother about it because I was afraid I’d get in trouble for playing somewhere that I shouldn’t have been a few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise and I got sent to the principal’s office from there I was sent to another small room with a really nice lady who asked me all kinds of questions about my life at home I saw no reason to lie as far as I was concerned life was pretty good I told her “whenever I’m sad my grandmother gives me karate chops” this led to a full scale investigation and I was removed from the house for three days until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises news of this silly little story quickly spread through the school and I earned my first nickname pork chop to this day I hate pork chops I’m not the only kid who grew up this way surrounded by people who used to say that rhyme about sticks and stones as if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called and we got called them all so we grew up believing no one would ever fall in love with us that we’d be lonely forever that we’d never meet someone to make us feel like the sun was something they built for us in their tool shed so broken heart strings bled the blues as we tried to empty ourselves so we would feel nothing don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone that an ingrown life is something surgeons can cut away that there’s no way for it to metastasize it does she was eight years old our first day of grade three when she got called ugly we both got moved to the back of the class so we would stop get bombarded by spit balls but the school halls were a battleground where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day we used to stay inside for recess because outside was worse outside we’d have to rehearse running away or learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were there in grade five they taped a sign to her desk that read beware of dog to this day despite a loving husband she doesn’t think she’s beautiful because of a birthmark that takes up a little less than half of her face kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer that someone tried to erase but couldn’t quite get the job done and they’ll never understand that she’s raising two kids whose definition of beauty begins with the word mom because they see her heart before they see her skin that she’s only ever always been amazing he was a broken branch grafted onto a different family theywerewrong.
adopted but not because his parents opted for a different destiny he was three when he became a mixed drink of one part left alone and two parts tragedy started therapy in 8th grade had a personality made up of tests and pills lived like the uphills were mountains and the downhills were cliffs four fifths suicidal a tidal wave of anti depressants and an adolescence of being called popper one part because of the pills and ninety nine parts because of the cruelty he tried to kill himself in grade ten when a kid who still had his mom and dad had the audacity to tell him “get over it” as if depression is something that can be remedied by any of the contents found in a first aid kit to this day he is a stick on TNT lit from both ends could describe to you in detail the way the sky bends in the moments before it’s about to fall and despite an army of friends who all call him an inspiration he remains a conversation piece between people who can’t understand sometimes becoming drug free has less to do with addiction and more to do with sanity we weren’t the only kids who grew up this way to this day kids are still being called names the classics were hey stupid hey spaz seems like each school has an arsenal of names getting updated every year and if a kid breaks in a school and no one around chooses to hear do they make a sound? are they just the background noise of a soundtrack stuck on repeat when people say things like kids can be cruel? every school was a big top circus tent and the pecking order went from acrobats to lion tamers from clowns to carnies all of these were miles ahead of who we were we were freaks lobster claw boys and bearded ladies oddities juggling depression and loneliness playing solitaire spin the bottle trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal but at night while the others slept we kept walking the tightrope it was practice and yeah some of us fell but I want to tell them that all of this shit is just debris leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought we used to be and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself get a better mirror look a little closer stare a little longer because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit you built a cast around your broken heart and signed it yourself you signed it “they were wrong” because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a click maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth to show and tell but never told because how can you hold your ground if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it you have to believe that they were wrong they have to be wrong why else would we still be here? we grew up learning to cheer on the underdog because we see ourselves in them we stem from a root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called we are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on a highway and if in some way we are don’t worry we only got out to walk and get gas we are graduating members from the class of fuck off we made it not the faded echoes of voices crying out names will never hurt me of course they did but our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty.