When I was in first grade, we had two tables in the classroom. Choosing where we got to sit, the classroom eventually split. In the middle of the classroom, sat the girls. At the table near the wall, the boys sat at their table. I was the exception.
When I first went to the boys table, they had a rule that excluded me. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I think that rule was perhaps explicit to me, though what propelled them to do so, whether it was my lack of size or if it was my lack of strength, is beyond me.
One thing I did realize, however, is that I wasn’t going to survive without a group of friends to rely on. So I went to the middle of the classroom. While the boys table was governed by a monarchy, the girls table was mainly a democracy. Sure, there where one or two political leaders within the group, and they never had an organised vote, but over all, we had equal power within it. I now realize these events were, perhaps, the best circumstances ever forced on me.
Eventually, as the boys put laughing and communication in front of their studies, I looked upon the girls as more of studymates. They helped me when I got stuck on a problem, and I helped them.
Now, six years later, I am still surrounded by girls, and a couple of boys like me. The boys still believe in healthy communication (and sometimes unhealthy communication!), and the girls still study hard, if they’re not too vain. But there is one major difference: I now know that I am surrounded by the pine needles of friends, and not the thorns of ‘acocents’ that may turn on me at any time.