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Old Memories

I got onto Facebook the other day and was shocked and saddened to see that one of my old high school friends had passed away. This wasn’t the first time I had seen a death notice about someone from the little town I lived in as a child, but it was definitely the most heartbreaking one for me to read about. 

I didn’t have many friends as a child and found it especially hard to communicate with someone of the opposite sex. I was never invited to dances, never asked a boy out, and was never asked out on a date.  Mom detested the thought of me even talking to a boy and every time she would cut my hair down to the scalp, she would make the comment, “This way you won’t get pregnant.  No boy wants another boy to take out on a date.”

I would look in the mirror after she was done butchering my hair and tear up; knowing in my heart that what she said was true. I was hideous and Mom knew it and she kept me looking that way on purpose.  I knew that I would never get a boy’s attention the way that the other girls in school did and I would never have a boy writing my name on his notebooks or passing me little love notes in class.

I remember seeing a flyer up in the hallway of my high school one day for the annual Spring Fling dance and automatically feeling defeated knowing in my heart that no one would ever ask me to it. I sat in the locker room after gym class turning green with envy as the other girls in the locker room would talk excitedly about their dates, hair, and tanning appointments for the upcoming dance. “It’s just not fair” I thought to myself.  When would it be my time to get dressed up and feel like a princess for a night?  When would it be my turn to feel special and wanted for once?

I remember lying in my bed that night and thinking about how badly I wanted to go to that dance, how badly I wanted to get dressed up and look pretty for once, and how much I wanted to have my first slow dance with a boy on the dance floor. But if no boy was ever going to ask me to a dance, how in the world would I ever get the chance to experience this?

Luckily, one of my only friends in high school was as awkward with the boys as I was; she was awkward for completely different reasons than me, but we both shared the same dismay over never getting to experience the same things that the other girls in our class did. She pulled me aside in the hallway about a week before the dance, “Hey, I’m going to the dance dutch.  Wanna go with me?”

“Oh gosh, like we couldn’t get any lamer than that” I retorted. “Come on!” she exclaimed.  “It will be fun and we don’t have to pay for anyone’s corsage if we go Dutch!”

Going Dutch was not what I had planned for my first dance, but it was worth a shot. It took a lot of work to get Mom to let me out of the house for the evening; but with the help of my friend, she agreed, but only if I wore what she chose.

It was the Spring Fling, so the dresses all of the other girls were wearing were flowery, pink, and flouncy. Of course, Mom dressed me in a skirt that was so long that I couldn’t walk without tripping on it and a sweater so big that covered every inch of my skin above the waist.  I looked ridiculous and Mom’s smirk when she saw me getting ready to leave only confirmed the absurdity of what I was wearing.

I was so nervous to walk into the gymnasium that evening; I didn’t know how to act, how to talk, or how to stop itching my skin under that giant sweater. I felt like everyone’s eyes turned to me when I walked through the gymnasium doors and I could just imagine the jokes and the harsh comments they were saying about me as I walked by.  My friend grabbed my arm, “Don’t worry about them,” she whispered.  “Just relax and have a good time.”

Easier said than done.

I hung out almost the entire night by a bunch of balloons that were tethered to the floor and watched my classmates have a great time on the dance floor. I watched them line dance, slow dance, and have a blast with each other.  My friend wasn’t as ashamed to be at the dance without a date as I was and was right in the middle of the dance floor with everyone else having the time of her life.

“OK you young lovebirds! Time for the last dance!”

The DJ’s voice rang through the gym and I hid myself behind the balloons again while I watched all of the couples join up and hold each other on the dance floor. I looked down at the floor and bent over to fix a small rip in the hem of my skirt when I felt a warm hand on my shoulder.

I looked up and it was one of my classmates, Corey. “Want to dance?” he asked me.

I was confused, “What?” I asked him.

“Dance! It’s the last dance, do you want to dance?”

I didn’t even think; I just stood up straight and let Corey lead me onto the dance floor. He put his arms on my shoulders and I put my arms awkwardly around his waist and we swayed back and forth together in perfect sync until the song was finished.  Corey pulled away from me, smiled and rubbed me on the back.  “I really like your sweater” he said.  “Thanks for dancing with me.”

I’m not sure why Corey danced with me or why he was so nice to me that night, but I know that I left the dance that evening finally feeling like a princess for the first time in my life. I never forgot what he did for me that evening and how beautiful I was able to feel for a few minutes.

Thank you Corey. RIP.

Old Memories

Sarah Burleton NY Times bestselling author

Victoria Gigante Writes For Psych CentralSarah Burleton was born in a little town in Illinois to a very emotionally disturbed woman. Her first book, her child abuse memoir "Why Me," spent 26 weeks on the New York Times and the print version is endorsed by David Pelzer, author of "A Child Called It." Sarah is now realizing her goal in becoming an ambassador for abused children and adult survivors and is currently conducting workshops and seminars throughout the state. Her message of strength over adversity and her story will help counselors, teachers, and other professionals identify signs of abuse and learn ways to establish trust with an abused child.

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APA Reference
, . (2017). Old Memories. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 16, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Mar 2017
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