My 14th year was such a depressing mess. There are years, we all have had them, when it just seems shitstorm after shitstorm keeps raining down, and all you can do is try to cope and then clean up the disgusting smelly mess.

That summer was when teenage angst really hit full force. I was pissed and disappointed in everything: music, clothes, my parents, my friends, my school, my stupid town, and most of all, me. I was getting a big reality check: I wasn't as pretty or smart or powerful I as thought I was, and I didn't know what or who I was anymore. I would look at my plain, pale, unformed face in the mirror, knew what I wanted to say but still didn't yet have the elegance or ease or experience to express myself the way I wanted. And I knew there was nothing to solve it but time. Long, dragging teenage-years time.

On top of that, I kept getting sick from yet-to-be diagnosed food allergies, and missed months of school. A ski accident knocked me out cold on a freezing winter night, and the boy I was crazy about had eyes for some sweet extremely-boring black-haired donut-faced girl. I was hopelessly lost in math, never to recover, missed too much. Boston, Styx, Kansas, Supertramp. Fucking hell.

The killer winter passed, and I once again returned to school after another two weeks gone puking and crapping up a storm. It was one of those early spring days where the air smells green and of wet fresh dirt, the sun peeks out to warm you enough to forget about a coat, and you can feel the waking up all around you. I was so happy to see my friends again, so tired of being alone at home all day watching soap operas and game shows under my avocado green pilled blanket.

As usual, I was running around loose at school, probably blowing off a drum lesson or study hall, and I found myself with a few buddies, including my boy crush, fooling around in the choir room. The day was so nice that the double doors had been propped open, and I went through them to the sweetness of the air and sun. I was feeling so giddy and silly. My boy crush seemed to be paying me a lot of attention, seemed happy I was back at school again. On impulse, I walked over to a silver railing at the side of the concrete stairs that led to the sidewalk going around the school. Underneath it was a deep window well, a good 15 feet down or more, that contained the tiny windows to the basement band room, gravel, and a few pieces of broken glass.

All filled with happy, I grabbed the railing and pushed myself straight up, bringing my hips up slightly past the top edge. That was my mistake. Suddenly,with my arms still locked into place, I tipped forward, losing my balance. I had the presence of mind to hang on, but in turning over upside-down, my mouth hit full force on the lower railing -- BAM! I hung there for a second, until I dropped, face-first into the gravel at the bottom of the well. I laid there for a second, stunned. I looked over to the windows, looking at the 7th Grade band stop practice to look at me. Oh, hell.

I went to stand, ignoring the band kids, and looked up. How the hell was I going to get out of here? As I raised my head, I felt a rush of blood go down my throat. I wiped my mouth. Red. I spat out an ugly liquid bloody mess, including what I thought were pebbles, but were in fact most of my two front teeth. I ran my tongue, the bottom sliced and bleeding heavily now all down my pretty pink gauze shirt, over my teeth, jagged and rough.


I yelled it as loud as I could, and started swearing up the ugliest blue streak the world has ever heard. I was furious. Not this! Not today! NO NO NO NO NO! I just got back!

Appearing like the White Knight above me then, was my boy crush. I felt so horrible and embarrassed, not sure what had even happened to my face, how badly it was wrecked up. He didn't hesitate for a second. He climbed down into the well, upset on his face but also a look of a calmness and determination, something of the man he would be someday. While the band watched, he bent down and had me stand on his back, then told me to balance against the concrete wall as he slowly stood, shaking with effort, until I could reach high enough to grab a railing. My other friends by now came to the top of the well, and pulled me through. I looked back at him, in the pit, covered in my blood. "Go," he said, waving me away. "Get help. I will be fine. Go!"

I went into the choir room, caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, turned around, and slammed a window shut in sheer fury, exploding it into shards of icicle glass.

There's nothing creepier than walking around and seeing people look frightened by you. My friends took me to the office, where the horrified staff had me sit alone in the Vice Principal's office until my mother could pick me up, a white gym towel soaking up the blood. She arrived, and we went straight over to the dentist's, another 10 miles away.

My dentist, I have realized, was a weirdo. He never used novocaine on any of my fillings, didn't think kids needed it. One time he pulled a loose baby tooth of mine out with his bare hands, shocking me utterly. So he looked me over, said the nerves to the front teeth were still good, and told me to stay home from school to let them rest so the teeth would not die. Two weeks. I was despondent.

My dear mom, seeing me so sad, all broken-toothed and swollen, told me she would take me to my favorite record store across the street from the dentist's, so I could buy some music to listen to while I was at home. This perked me up considerably. We were not wealthy, and I always had to really push to get a new record.

Like a kid in a candy store, I started scooping up albums, looking over at my mom to see what my limit was. She stopped me at 10 -- that was fifty dollars! This was unheard of. We had bills less than that we couldn't pay. I took the records to the guy behind the counter, all happy again. He looked up, and his mouth literally almost dropped to the floor in horror. I had forgotten. My shirt and hands and hair were still caked in blood, my two front teeth looked like a broken bottle edge, and my face was swollen and badly bruised. I looked down in shame, had my mother finish paying, then slinked out.

Walking back to the car, clutching the brown paper bag from Mainstream Records, my mom started laughing. "Did you see that guy's face? I thought he was going to pass out cold! Ha ha ha ha ha!" I looked at her, and a smile spread over my face, tight and painful as it was. That was damn funny. I started to laugh with her as we walked down the sidewalk in the late afternoon shadows, laughing harder as people passed me by, double-taking, whispering.