Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Number Forgotten Rossmoor Place, Columbus Ohio

We lived in a townhouse apartment, the end unit, in a complex with 5 or 6 buildings. A lovely small apartment complex on a courtyard (no thru traffic) that backed up to the elementary school field surrounded by nicer houses and condos and lots of trees & grass.

The apartment on Rossmoor Place was where I lived when I got my period for the first time. Also where I lived when I threw up, from eating too many cheese puffs, all over the side of the building in front of all the kids who lived there, and there were many. I had an aversion to cheese puffs, doodles, balls, curls, etc. for many years after. I discovered the Violent Femmes here, and Guns N' Roses, and skateboarding and cigarettes and Sassy magazine, and The Cure.

When we first moved into Rossmoor, I was still a child, tall with a little pre-pubescent pudge. I begged my mom to let me have a perm, and finally, after many NOs, she relented. Her friend, Tanny, a hairdresser, gave me a home permanent. I think my mother and Tanny were trying to talk me out of it for good reason--I already had curly hair, and a perm would make look more cumbersome, and my plump pre-teen awkwardness was weird enough without any special hair issues--they feared the worst and the worst came. I looked retched. A mullet-like pile of super tight curls puffing out my hair in afro like ways--all I needed was some Soul-Glo to rock that 70s sheen. Hall (or Oates?) would have been jealous certainly.  It was somehow fitting though since I felt ridiculous all the time anyway, in the oh-so-awkward way that all ten year old girls have with abnormally curled and immobile permed hair and chubby baby-fat-suit postponing the inevitable growing up just a few moments longer.

I can't go for that, no, no can do.

There was one boy in the complex named Chris. He was 14, a freshman in high school. He was painfully shy (even I noticed how painful he was and I looked like a poodle)--I think he was a super nice nerdy boy who was in band, had acne, lived with his mother, she, who never let him go outside--but I found out his name when we met once by the dumpsters, and I looked him up in the phonebook--oh yes, throwitback--and I called him.  We would talk about everything and nothing for hours--usually at night when our mothers were sleeping or working. There was a lot of flirtation and some phone(pre)sex going on in those convos. It felt so safe somehow, mostly because I knew that Chris would never have the balls to leave his apartment and shyness behind and walk across the parking lot in front of God and the neighbors and do anything about it.

Chris on Rossmoor Place was how I learned to talk to and tease a boy. A very useful skill to learn while you are growing out a bad perm and trying to lose the puffy padding of babydom.  

Then, boom, just like that it all happened--I got my period, my hair relaxed, my body stretched out, I got boobs, and I happily grew out of my green "Hogs and Kisses" sweatshirt (with two pigs kissing) and I met boys that left the house. I left poor Chris behind. Traded him in for the cool guys that he hated at school--the skateboarders, the tattooed, the rebels, the rockers--my people.

By then I was off on a new path--babysitting, listening to tapes in my Walkman, hanging out with skater boys, playing (and being) hard-to-get. I became that girl that I was going to be for a long time--the girl that hung out with boys--the girl that could hang. Not a groupie, or a girlfriend, but a betty--a girl who boys were friends with, a girl who saw the inside of the locker room.

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