Given my penchant for black clothing and flair for the dramatic, the title of this blog shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In seventh grade my History teacher gave the class an assignment to describe our dream homes, mine included a cemetery. I wasn’t trying to be funny or get a reaction, I’ve just always thought cemeteries were very peaceful and pretty. This begs the question I have yet to answer, am I Goth because I like cemeteries, or do I like cemeteries because I’m Goth?
I went to high school in the early 90s, when it was still considered odd to wear head to toe black and carry around a dogeared copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I didn’t think I was that outrageous or scary, but I must not have seen what other people were seeing. I was never bullied, the worst teasing I remember was a group of guys who used to hum the theme from The Munsters when I walked down the hall. There was also one guy who seemed overly concerned about me, always asking me if I was depressed. A few years after I’d graduated a classmate admitted to me that she thought I was a witch. Not a bitchy Brenda Walsh, but a spell casting Prue Halliwell. Imagine if I’d been in high school when The Craft came out!
I’d always assumed I was pretty invisible during my years in school. I had a small group of friends, but for the most part, I was never part of any popular social circle. Even a couple of years into high school, when the Alternative music scene (remember that?!) took hold and it became more acceptable to listen to bands like The Cure and other “dark” bands, I was never part of the popular crowd. These were the jocks who’d suddenly taken an interest in that scene, and would only talk to me to ask where I’d gotten my Doc Martens (not an easy feat in those days). But despite our similar interests, I wasn’t allowed into their inner circle. Maybe it was because I’d insulted their queen in a Depeche Mode related schooling during first period PE, or I simply wasn’t cool enough. Whatever the reason, I never clicked with that clique.
Assuming I’d spent my high school career flying under the radar in my nerdy group of friends, it came as a total shock to me when I found out other people actually knew who I was. Imagine my surprise during senior year when I was voted for one of those yearbook superlatives, Most Unique Senior Girl, to be exact. I was on the yearbook staff, so I wasn’t allowed to take part in the counting once I’d been nominated for one of the awards. I heard the phrase “landslide” mentioned, so I asked a friend of mine how many votes I’d gotten. She told me that out of the 200 or so kids in our class, about 100 to 125 voted and over 90 voted for me. I was floored, completely gobsmacked. I couldn’t name 90 people I’d met in four years of high school, much less 90 in our senior class.
I’d been so comfortable thinking I was playing the role of the invisible girl (p.s. remember that episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the unpopular girl ends up developing the super hero power of invisibility and is put in an elite government spy program?!). But then came that class vote, and the sudden notion that I was known, and the realization freaked me out. All I wanted was to blend in, the last thing I wanted was to stand out. I wanted the safety of disappearing into the herd and not getting singled out for ridicule or torture.
A couple of decades of hindsight and I can finally understand that it was better to have been the class weirdo than invisible. I was never trying to be different, I was just being trying to survive. By thinking that no one was paying attention, I inadvertently figured out a way to just be myself. High school is when I started to understand that it didn’t really matter what anyone else thought, those four years would be a blip in the movie montage of my life. Why not let my freak flag fly (mine would be black velvet, edged in lace) and not take it all so seriously? Whether it’s cemeteries in the backyard or glitter in your weaves, you gotta work it and not let a few side-eyes get you down.