I don't hear much about searching for one's identity these days. Perhaps that's because I am not around those who are confused in such matters, or better still, perhaps most folks have identified themselves at last. I never had that problem so far as I can recall.
I don't hear much about searching for one's identity these days. Perhaps that's because I am not around those who are confused in such matters, or better still, perhaps most folks have identified themselves at last. I never had that problem so far as I can recall. I knew who I was and what I wanted at any given moment, and was capable of letting all concerned know how I felt about the matter if frustrated in my varied attempts. No one knew why my speech was difficult to understand nor why I stumbled around awkwardly. My sister was usually around to translate my garbled statements to understandable English. And if I happened to fall, I could manage to get up all by myself. Actually, I was, and still am slightly cerebral palsied. I have never had a normal knee reflex. I could never jump rope with the other kids, and all I managed when attempting to play jacks was to send them flying in every direction.
And so I settled for what I could do. I could walk, run, climb hills and trees, and watch my many friends play jacks. There were few places on the homestead where my footprints weren't left. I knew to grip firmly when climbing a tree, and so I never fell from one. I liked to play baseball, and a few times I actually hit the ball with the bat. By the time I was twelve years old, I had managed to speak normally, though slowly. Even today, I have trouble with some words. Spelling was never easy for me. Some of my classmates made 100 in spelling every month on their report cards. Though I tried hard, I never managed to get 100 in spelling on any report card, not ever.
But one month as the teacher handed out report cards, she remarked, “In all the years that I have taught, I have never before had a student make 100 in arithmetic on a report card, but this time someone did it. I checked and rechecked to be sure, and I have to admit that Bernice had perfect grades in all her arithmetic work for the past month.” As I stumbled forward to get that report card, I no longer envied my friends who found it so easy to make those 100's in spelling. I still have that special card. 100 in arithmetic. Wow!
You see, I am no math genius. I always found mathematics a challenge; but I do love a challenge. When I reached high school, my geometry teacher exempted students from the six week's exams if they scored high enough and did special extra credit problems that he wrote on the board. I seldom had to take the exams.
As a freshman, I was still living in my home town of Corona, New Mexico. I did quite well in algebra until after Christmas vacation when I missed a great deal of school because of illness. My sophomore and junior terms were in Roswell. I bless the memory of Clovis high school. The last semester of my senior year found me back in Corona. Okay, I loved Corona. It was my home town. But, let's face it. We were merely homesteaders or nesters in ranch country. In the smallest graduating class in many years I was easily the valedictorian but for one draw back: we weren't ranchers! The reason I was not considered in any awards that was I had not attended Corona high school the whole four years. I happened to recall the rancher's son who was chosen for that honor, had been living in Arizona our freshman year, and so he had not attended Corona high school the full four years either. I sat on that platform hating them all, promising myself that I would show them someday who I really was!
But time eased the pain of rejection. After all, I still knew who I was. I saw scholarships go to the two “top” students who didn't use them. The valedictorian chose to go to a business school in Albuquerque and the other back to the ranch. A kindly teacher from the elementary school who was outraged over all the favoritism, spoke to authorities at Eastern New Mexico College in Portales of what he considered an injustice, and they offered me a year's scholarship which I gladly accepted. Ours was the smallest graduating class (only five) in many years. For several years, I found myself back in eastern New Mexico, not far from Clovis high school where I had attended one semester. When a student from Corona or Roswell happened to mention that I was from the school, someone from Clovis was sure to speak up, “Oh, but Bernice is from Clovis high school!”
I attended Roswell high school two full years and have many happy memories of friends and teachers there. Clovis high school is special, though I attended only one semester there. After all, there is something that warms the heart when someone declares so fondly “You belong to us!”
So who am I? A former student from Clovis, New Mexico high school.