Friday, April 25, 2008

Question Answered - AA Coin

Considering how there were so many questions about the AA Medallion I'll tell you the story. As some of you may know most of chapters of Alcoholic Anonymous, hand out chips or Medallions for sobriety milestones. The history behind this was that the Sister or Priest running the meeting would give a little paper Sacred Heart Medallion to a new members, asking that before they took another drink that they would give back the medallion. As time when by this was replaced by a embossed poker chip, and often when a major milestone is met the sponsor will give the member a medallion commemorating years of sobriety.

Now for my story. It really all began back in 7th grade, by that time I had been in and out of the system and while scared not overly damaged. I was however in survivor mod, and my only goal was to be invisible. I don’t mean like superhero invisible, I wanted no one to notice me and I wanted to deal with no one. There are trick to being invisible one is no set patterns, never eat at the same table in the lunch room, never stand in the same location, never draw attention to yourself. Now 7th grade met Jr High School in our suburbs, and students from 10 or more little elementary schools where join together to form Jr High School. This meant there where a lot of kids in school you didn’t know and didn’t know you, so becoming invisible was a possibility. I was never really very good at being invisible, but that didn’t keep me from trying and sometime I managed to pull it off for a week or two.

Robin on the other hand was a master, at invisibility. I knew her for at least three years and couldn't tell you her last name or even what classes we had together. Thinking back on it, I'm not sure how she pull it off. She was a auburn haired beauty - I don’t mean merely pretty but with a little TLC she would have been knock dead gorgeous. While the hormone fairy had forgotten what zip code I lived (in fact that summer, at one of the numerous summer camps I was sent off to, I was assigned into the boys cabin how utterly depressing). Robin on the other hand was hit early and hard. But like a lot of girls who had breast and hips young she wore baggy tops and ill fitting jeans, so no one would notice. Her hair was a deep dark red, that she kept loose about shoulder length and while it was never dirty it was dull, like she wash it in regular bar soap not shampoo.

It was during one of my invisible period that I met, Robin. I can't recall the fisrt time we spoke or that I even noticed her. Sometimes we happen onto the same hidings spot (this could be in the middle of a group or crowd or off in an unused section of the school). Over a three year period we met often shared lunch, had the same class, never really looking for each but more just spotted the other and would be drawn to the other. There were no scheduled or planned meeting and most of the time just a slight nod or quick smile to the other. You might be invisible to everyone else but I see you and am glad you here.
I would share my sandwich or whatever I had for lunch that day, even flipping her a token for the hot lunch, commenting “It was time to make a showing“. For unlike the after school specials, kids are cruel and if they spot something weak or something different they would attack like a bunch of wolves. So you had to fit in with the crowd, never draw attention, become invisible.

My life was not charmed, the parental units were far to involved with their own issues to notice mine. But my guess was that Robin’s life was a nightmare. Sometime I notice what was the remains of a bruise and now that I'm not quite so na├»ve I can guess why the hormone fairy hit early. You might ask why didn’t we tell an adult or someone in authority. My short time in the system, I learned that the system was no where you would or should ever send anything human. Things can go from bad to very bad to pure misery in a matter of minutes, and it would have killed, the little that was left of Robin. Adults would just put you in the system and forget about you thinking that they were doing the right thing. Don't get me wrong there are some good people trying but there is just too much worng and far too much broken. Most of the kids I have seen come out of the system are either shells, or so damaged. The rule on the inside are different than that of normal soceity. My speculation is that Robin had done at least a little time in the system. If she did she never said anything about it . But we both knew the system was no place to be and should be avoided. So speaking out would have to wait till we were stronger. Right than we were just trying to make it one more day.

There were volumes of things we didn’t say. One time when she noticed that I saw the remains of a bruise she commented that it was over and no reason to relive the pain. It wasn’t all gloom and doom, there where the times when I had way too much energy and would dance to my own music, I had a hard time just sitting in class after class and needed an outlet. So off in our own corner she would laugh at my antic and when it was time again to blend into the norm she would say “For a black girl you sure can’t dance“ , and we would both laugh and head off to class. Other times we would just sit. Most of our conversations were short and used as few words as possible. It was almost a code of sorts, there were subjects off limits and we both knew the rules without saying .

Robin had this odd habit of coloring her wrist, (ink, pencil, marker what ever she had) to this day I haven’t a clue why. I never asked and who was I to judge. I had this odd habit of pulling out my eye lashes and she never asked it was part of the unspoken code. There were things that were your story to tell if you wanted, but it would be impolite to ask. If questioned, I would have disappeared and I think Robin would have done the same. We had this odd friendship, never real saying much, yet excepting the other. One day while we were just sitting I showed her my Franklin half dollar that my grandfather had given me. (It was one of the few things I had from him and it was a kind of security blanket. I would go without eating, before I would consider sepending that 50 cents). Robin showed me her AA medallion and explained that it was from her REAL DAD, but he was gone now. This could have meant that he was dead, or in jail, or that he had just left his family. Albeit it didn’t really matter, he was no longer in her life, and could not help. This little tokens however where signs in our young twisted minds that we somehow had value and worth.

Our strange friendship went on all though Jr High and into the first year of Sr High. Then one day at the end of the week, just as we were loading onto the buses for the ride home, she finds me and tells me Good bye, says she is leaving. My question was some place better? She shook her head yes, and beamed a bright smile as she loaded into her bus, first to the house than part unknow to me. Through the bus window I handed her my half dollar and told her to take a little of my love with her. That weekend and for a few weeks after I scanned the paper to see it there as a teenage suicide or death. I didn't one and I never again saw Robin. My hopes were and are that she found the happiness she deserves. Sorry no happy endings just questions. The following Monday I found an envelope in my locker inside was her AA coin, and a note saying “To Thine Own Self Be True, the H&%# with the rest of those b@$#&$*%. You kept me sane doing the dark days I'll miss you my friend“. So when you think those little kindness mean nothing to some they may just be that little light they need.

Posted By Penny


SwampAngel65 said...

I am utterly speechless...

I'm sure Robin remembers you and thinks of you the same way.

Olive said...

Thanks for leaving a part of you with us.