I don't remember much of 7th grade. I attended a small inner city Jr High which was over a mile from my home. I walked to school every morning, usually alone. Sometimes with my friend Tanisha. She often walked home with me after school too. One day, as I waited for her at the gate that separated the school from the streets, I saw a fight break out. I couldn't see the actual fight itself, just the clog of humanity that surrounded it, cheering and yelling and egging them on. I stayed far away from it. Eventually it broke up and scattered, and I saw Tanisha running from the center of it, her face a bloody, swollen ruin. Another girl had attacked her with a knife, because her boyfriend was attracted to Tanisha.
I ran after her for two blocks before finally catching up with her. I saw people passing her by and doing double takes, but no one tried to help her. I was twelve. So was she. I finally caught up with her and she told me what had happened in a tear-choked voice, one eye already turning black and swelling shut, blood running from her nose and lip. I remember hugging her and telling her I was sorry. I never saw her in school again - her mother pulled her out and transferred her.
With Tanisha gone, my friends dwindled. There were a few girls who were willing to hang out with me at lunch, but unwilling to admit I was a real friend. I was a zitty, oily haired outcast who didn't have a boyfriend, or nice clothes, and who had bled through her jeans once and everyone saw. I was the ultimate gross out. The boys made dog barking noises at me as I walked by. The girls called me "Zitface" and "Bitch" and somehow simultaneously made everyone believe that I was both a total whore and a terminal virgin.
My grades began to slip, from straight As to Cs and Ds. My health began to go to shit as well. I was tested for everything from diabetes to mono, had a spinal tap, endless blood work and a disgusting daylong test where I was forced to drink a bottle of thick, syrupy crap that tasted like sweet snot and then had my piss tested once every hour. I was finally diagnosed with Reactive Hypoglycemia. A few weeks later, a terrible pain in my side sent us back to the hospital where it was found that I had a huge cyst on my ovary. I was prescribed birth control, which would shrink the cyst without surgery, but of course my few friends found out that I was on "The Pill" and pretty soon, I was a gang banging slut who would fuck any boy out behind the gym before school, during lunch hour and after school.
Finally, about 2 months before I was scheduled to graduate the seventh grade, I was pulled out of school and sent to bed for the summer. The Jr. High I had attended closed that year and its students shipped to another Jr High. My mom took that opportunity to move us to a new town a few miles away, a town she hoped would be safer than the crime ridden city we'd been living in for a decade.
I started the eighth grade at a brand new school, which stood on the top of a hill in a small town in Northern California, where I knew no one. It was 1983. Things would not get better.