The groups had already formed in high school. In this small school of a small town, the grouping off included — the athletes, the musicians, the scholars, and the good looking, the smokers, the rich, and the poor, and the religious and the lost. We disguised all the groups, covered up the broken hearts and broken homes with silk graduation gowns and marched through the gymnasium. We flung our tasseled hats as they flung us out the double doors, and we began again.
Dorothy Parker wrote the words that I copied from the school library and placed in my pocket —
“Once when I was young and true.
Someone left me sad —
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.”
I crumpled the paper and left for college. It was freeing this life. To begin again. To learn again. But still the groups formed as we thought we were making such grown up choices. Gown and hats, this time in the outdoor courtyard. They said words I don’t remember in microphones and flung us off again.
Without knowledge or permission, I began living the second half of the poem,
“Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.”
So if I wasn’t to be flung, or do the flinging, where did I fit in?
We are all trying to find our way. We get tossed into groups and stereotypes. Lost in should-haves and supposed-tos. And the only way that I can see to survive is to keep learning. What a glorious thing to keep learning. To get beyond the first half of the poem. Beyond the second. To write your own. And write it again. No more gowns to hide behind. No more, this need to be flung…because I was already flying, no need to fling, there was room for all of us.
What a thing it is to fly. I write the words, and begin again.