I was a crier.
I cried during recess in anticipation for the upcoming fractions test. Then I cried during the test.
At that time I was “Wendy Fraser.” And Wendy Fraser was a straight-A student. “Smart” was “my thing.” Acne had announced itself on my forehead. I was picked last for kickball. I had to keep up the standards by which everyone knew me and judged me.
I threw away my cream-cheese sandwich. I bit the sleeves of my shirt. I perched above the toilet in the girl’s room, gripping my sides.
At night, I worried about the possible red markings I might find on my Women’s History Month report. I worried about my report’s bibliography. I worried about formulas for circumference. My sister reached across the space between our twin-sized beds and held my hand until we fell asleep.
Later, my class would learn about the Earth’s axis and the orbit of our planet around the sun. I found it fascinating to learn that while it was hot chocolate weather in Los Angeles, in Australia it was lemonade weather.
That's when I felt as if someone had yanked on my waist-length brown hair, the “ding-dong” had sounded, and I finally got it.
There were things bigger than me, bigger than anything happening in room 21. No matter what happened on my social studies quiz, the sun would rise the next day. And then set. And rise and set again.
Nothing I was doing in Mrs. E’s class was significant enough or important enough to disturb the Earth.
I could breathe again.