When I was little my family moved around a lot. I think I had attended about six or seven different schools before it was time for me to go to university. One of these schools was Eglinton Public School in Toronto - not only was this where I met all my best friends, it's also where I met the love of my life, when I was nine years old.
I remember my first day of school at Eglington, it was a rainy September day and our lunch hour was being held in the downstairs gymnasium instead of outdoors. The air was really close, late summer rains in Toronto can be really humid, and I was so nervous because I had to ask someone how to get to the gym from my classroom. I was only in grade four at the time and I was a pretty shy little girl, a lot smaller than everyone else, really scrawny and really freckly.
Groups of friends were gathering in little circles on the floor, and while most of them were from the same neighborhood and had been going to school together since kindergarten, I knew no one and so had no little circle to join. I sat somewhere in the middle, on my own, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
I unpacked my paper-bag lunch and was carefully making my way through some chocolate chip cookies that had melted into the plastic bag - chocolate was getting everywhere! Never too shy to be greedy, I started to lick the melted chocolate from the inside of the bag when this ginger boy, older than me and almost as freckly, leaned over from his group of friends and said "do you usually eat plastic for lunch?". All his friend looked at me and laughed, they had obviously been watching as I sat there, absorbed in my cookies - no doubt I had chocolate on my face too.
I was mortified. I'm not sure if I cried at the time but you can bet I cried about it when I got home and my mum asked, "how was your first day at school?". My reputation was in tatters before I had even started trying to fit in, I was certain this boy must be cool because he had a pierced ear and wore a baseball hat indoors - which was against the rules. Such a rebel.