May 4, 2009


A series of pictures from Middle School have surfaced on Facebook that have forced me to start writing a few tales about those days. They will be in random order and very raw. I have categorized them as Davidson. If you are reading this and went to Davidson, I would love your comments and insight. I am sure I have built that time as much worse than it was, so it would be cool to have your help in flushing out that time in my life.

The first thing I remember about entering middle school was my best friend’s brother’s advice, “You must have Sperry Topsiders or don’t even think about showing up.” Up till then, growing up in what was called The Canal, I had never even thought that there could be some outside source that could dictate how I should or should not dress.

The Canal is an anomaly. A blot on the perfect face of the small Marin town, which calls itself San Rafael. Nestled at the foot of beautiful Mt. Tamalpais, San Rafael is a strange meld of leftover of hippiedom and upstart yuppie wealth. Priding itself as one of the richest counties in California, Marin is utopia of sorts. Except of course if you were unlucky enough to be one of the immigrant refugee families living in The Canal.

I am still not sure how Marin allows a large section of its water front property to be squatted upon by gangs of Mexicans, El Salvadorians, Vietnamese boat people, exiled Iranians, Haitians, and a slew of other non-desirable third world refugees who some how found themselves riding the bus alongside the Lexus SUVs and Mercedes Benzes.

Throughout my Elementary School days at Bahia Vista, I never knew I was different. Tucked away and secluded on the edge of town, San Francisco Bay wetlands, and the dump, I don’t remember hanging out with more than two or three white kids, I later learned they were all at Glenwood and Sun Valley. We were a motley crew at Bahia Vista. No one wore Sperry Topsiders and more importantly no one really noticed what anyone else wore, because we were all dressed in the most affordable clothes our parents could find.

I remember walking to Barney’s shoes on Sir Francis Drake Blvd to find the mandatory footwear for my new school, Davidson Middle School. We took Gonzalo’s brother’s word as gospel, for he was an eight grader. I had somehow convinced my parents that I was not allowed to start school with out a pair of Sperry Topsiders. Little did they know that for the next three years there would be a litany of must have items: Koala soda, New York Seltzer, Gotcha, Jimmy Z’s, and other over priced surf wear, Nike shoes, and Swatch watches were just a few of the things that poor kids from the Canal had a hard time acquiring while other kids at Davidson seemed to interchange at will. Pre-pubescent consumerism was pumping just as strong as our errant hormones at Davidson.

The Sperry Topsider was my first lesson in class awareness and conformity. Pablo had failed to mention that there were a few different colors to choose from. I figured that since he hadn’t mentioned it, than at least the need to fit in would allow for some wiggle room. I looked at all the shoes and was not impressed with the style or the fit, but if I had to have them than god damn it, I would not fail my first test. I chose the light beige ones hoping that I had made the right choice.

I had not. The style everyone seemed to be wearing was the brown ones.

There I was on day one looking at the gaggle of beautiful girls, all blond and soft, being picked up in their Mercedes wearing the wrong shoe. I didn’t realize that at that moment my life had become a John Hughes film. A film I would be unable to escape until my sophomore year in high school, when I would stop giving a shit and start being myself.

To be conintued…

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written, Jabiz. I don't even know where to start on the pain of growing up in Marin to a family without money (mine too) where clothes/image were so important. My outfits were a constant source of scorn and I never, ever felt like I could fit in. When I tried, it failed. This took a lot of years to undo.