Aja Ross was a thick bodied, red curly haired and freckled popular girl. She was one of those girls that was drug into popularity by her older, prettier sister, and impossibly cute brother Noah. I liked her because she had this sardonic wit and seemed really to not care at all about anything. It seemed so chic to me. Aja had a denim button down shirt from the Gap. And I really wanted it. Real real bad.
On one of my infrequent, but highly anticipated, visits to Aloha, the Portland suburb that was home to my mother and her family, I found a way to get that shirt. As luck would have it my gigantic step father had one hanging in his closet. It was some kind of xxxl but I didn’t pay that any mind. I stole it. I didn’t ask. I just took it. I squirreled it back to the coast and wore it proudly to school every day for a week. It was way to big and look insanely terrible on me but for that week I fit in. In my mind.
And then the hammer dropped. My theft was discovered and when my mom called to confront me I did what all teenagers do. Deny deny deny. I could hear her disappointment but I didn’t stop denying. I hung up the phone and found myself sitting on my bed, holding the shirt. It was too big. It wasn’t mine. And I would never fit in. I didn’t know that part then but I know it now. I never wore the shirt again. I hid it in the corner of my closet.
My mothers opinion of me changed, I am sure. My opinion of myself changed as well. Just because you have something in your possession doesn’t mean that it’s yours. I stole many things after that, condoms, chicken strips, bras, nail polish. It all felt the same. Except for the chicken strips. Those tasted delicious. Of course.
In this moment, while I attempt to reclaim my heart that was so cruelly stolen, I remember what it felt like to take something that wasn’t mine and then be too ashamed to actually use it. It’s toxic and like all things toxic, the residue lasts longer than the taste.
Sorry Mom. I took the shirt. I should have just asked, you probably would have bought me one. In my own size.