First day of school, my third grade year. I walked into Ms. Stephenson’s class (soon to be Van Veen, due to an impending marriage at the end of her…

First day of school, my third grade year. I walked into Ms. Stephenson’s class (soon to be Van Veen, due to an impending marriage at the end of her 2 year long engagement). Over the summer I had moved, for the first and only time in my life that I would move with my entire family, although, I had only moved two blocks. One of the primary reasons that my parents had chosen to move was due to a desire to have more outdoor space, more yard, more blue skies and green grass. We were a family ahead of the current eat-local/organic/whole foods craze, with a small garden at our first house, and at our new house, we were to have a much larger space. We grew tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, and whatever else seemed to be fun and interesting that year. In my lunch bag (which, mistake 1, was one of those re-usable bags with a built in icepack to keep things cold, and zippers and Velcro everywhere) were fresh fruits and vegetables and a sandwich made on homebaked bread (mistake 2). The point here is, with all of these things I loved, with things I grew up growing with my family, I could not be more pleased with my lunch. And when lunch time came, I was mocked mercilessly. The kids teasing me had white bread (so white you could almost see through it) with the crusts cut off at right angles, were swimming in rivers of JIF peanut butter, had the prepackaged chips that are 70% air, had a brownie, or a piece of cake. The kids at the very top, the worst, the most awful teasing, they had Lunchables. And they all took it in brown bags. That was the moment that I understood something very important. The world will be very intentional about telling you not to care about the things you care about. It will consistently tell you “It Is Not OK to like almost anything at all.” What you will encounter is the triumph of the mediocre, the triumph of the closest to the middle, of brown bags, of too salty chips and bread with less nutritional content than my shoes. And it took me a long time to get over that, a long time of coming home with half my lunch in my bag and my mother confused about why I didn’t eat things she knew were my favorite. But I did, because the sooner you reach a point where you realize that you don’t need to participate in the mass consumption of the middling, the better off you will be. Eat weird food. Listen to Edith Piaf. Care about comic books. Other people may try to take these things away from you, don’t do the work for them. Hold on tightly, today, and every day.
– Chad

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