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Grey Area Kid

"Maggie, where are you going?" My first period teacher asks me while I am skipping out of the classroom door. I didn't think I had to ask to go to the bathroom, I was in sixth grade for Christ sake didn't that come with any advantages? Apparently I can't even pee without permission.

"I'm going to the bathroom, to throw away my bra." I yell from half way down the hallway.

That was the truth. This thing needed to come off as soon as humanly possible. No one tells you how uncomfortable bras really are. They feel like chicken wire digging into an area of my body that is the softest, a part that never sees the sun. I can hear laughter behind me as I go to free myself.

I run into the first available stall I see and rip the beige boob chains off my body with a sigh of relief.

"What kind of person can stand to wear this all day."

Between the quiet that exists in middle school bathrooms and unshackled boobs I have a thought.

"Is there something wrong with me because I don't want to grow up and wear bras or have big boobs, I want to grow up and just be comfortable."

While other kids in my class are reading A Wrinkle in Time and all the girls I know are excited to go bra shopping with their moms I am reading murder bios of kids who killed their parents and throwing away my bra in the bathroom garbage can. Was there something wrong with me? I subscribed to Horse Illustrated instead of Teen Vogue. I owned GI Joes and not a single Barbie doll. I enjoyed sequins but I also liked overralls. Why did this feel wrong? I am tough but I want glitter. Why can't I want both? Sparkle and a karate belt.

I was never girly enough for the girls and never boyish enough for the boys, so I am in some sort of grey area, a genderless fork in the road. Where elephants and rainy skies get their color from. Society doesn't enjoy or celebrate grey area kids. We scare the system. We make a big ole mess of our cultures heteronormative gender roles. The way it uses these roles to force kids into only two available boxes and control bodies. When someone doesn't feel like they fit in one of those boxes, perfectly or completely they are left feeling alienated and alone. I am not pretending here that I am anything but a white, heterosexual, female and I can't imagine or pretend that I know how others must feel, but like someone once told me "heteronormative gender roles can feel like a prison to anyone."

Before I started at this middle school I had two grey area kid best friends. Colleen and Billy. We rode BMX bikes, caught frogs in the creek, painted our nails and got stitches from falling out of trees. We felt soft and hard. They were the parts of myself that I was self conscious about, the areas inside that were truly me. We were wrapped up in a confusing web, but we didn't know it yet. We didn't understand that we were being asked to choose a side. What if you are all sides? Where do those kids feel safe? The web has no ending, and in it lives the tiniest spider. The spider is allowed to be just a spider. It's "label" is just that ...Spider. It is just trying to survive, trying to catch something. We wanted to be seen as spiders. It came out while we flew our kites in Billys front lawn, or scared each other during a game of Nightmare. We spun our webs with every move that we made based on how we felt, not what was forced on us. A web can only grow if the spider is left alone to construct it. It's fragile and resilient, it's delicate and sturdy. We built ourselves with skinned knees and buttered popcorn. We weren't catching prey or trapping bugs, we were trying to catch a brand new box, another choice.

Not all spiders spin webs. Not all kids are definable. Some spiders only build webs to catch winds, to find gusts so they can travel to different locations. A way of moving forward, to figure out whats next, not trapping flies.

My cobwebs are not your cobwebs and your cobwebs are not anyone else's. Each spider makes their own, spinning past genders, past boxes to a place that feels safe. For me it's holding my hands out while Colleen and Billy sift through the popcorn bag looking for burnt kernels and placing them in my palm. Knowing these are my favorite. Saving me just by knowing me, by validating that I am not alone and that I can say I am a spider.

Some of us will spin webs, some of us won't, some of us will ride our web into the twirling, invisible wind while giggling wildly at what we have already learned. And some of us will throw our shitty bras in the trash can, without thinking for one second that that is a weird choice.


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