A teacher rushed to comfort the 5 year-old me as I stood on the playground during the recess. Tears poured down my cheeks as I watched all the other kids—the pretty one in purple named Jessica, the black-haired boys, and all faces known to me and not known me, race across the blacktop and scream in glee. I stood in a corner with a frown that consumed my face. “What’s wrong, Jennifer?” she asked.
I struggled with the words. Finally, I said, “Nobody wants to play with me.”
Whether her face contorted in disgust or remained sympathetic, I’ll never know. What I know is this: she heard a boy’s cry across the playground. He rolled on the ground, hugging his right knee, and shrieks broke through the gentle laughter. The teacher left me, standing alone, tears still dripping down my chin and blotting the blacktop. I looked up, all the adults seeming to tower above me. Then I looked at my classmates who were at my height, smiling and laughing. So I stood alone, making the decision that seeped into all the decisions that followed.