I received a belated Christmas card from an old high school friend today. In it, she called me Petey. Let me tell you about this girl named Pete (or Petey).
My family moved around a bit. I was born in Missouri. Just before I started kindergarten, we moved to Clemmons, North Carolina, a suburb of Winston-Salem. In the middle of 2nd grade, we moved from North Carolina to a small town in southeastern Kansas: Fort Scott. I remember a classmate named Buddy who stood up on my first day in Mrs. Sparks 2nd grade classroom at Eugene Ware Elementary and asked loudly, "Where's the new girl?!"
Me. I'm the new girl.
In the middle of 8th grade, we moved from Kansas to Iowa: Cedar Rapids, a fine town. As fine a town as it was/is, I had absolutely no desire at all whatsoever to live inside of it. I wanted to stay in Kansas. I had best friends and boy crushes. Having moved a few times, I can tell you that as a girl--and I don't know if it is the same, generally, for boys--moving in the middle of 8th grade sucks ass. It was the very (very) worst. I survived, and I'm quite fine; however, I will tell you, that it really was quite a hideous time; and if you have any choice in the matter at all, please do not move in the middle of 8th grade. Probably the worst time there ever was. (You understand I'm joking at this point, right?)
At any rate... Moving from Kansas to Iowa at the worst possible time = Not Delighted. I recall one day in particular in Kansas, shortly before the move. I was sitting in Mr. Regan's class. I don't remember the name of the class. Personal Science? It was a personal health class--sex and eating correctly and such. I don't know. But I sat in that class either behind or in front of my best friend, Tanya. Tanya and I exchanged notes back and forth about the upcoming and dreadful move to Iowa. In an attempt to find the silver lining in such a ghastly, horrible, unimaginable terror, Tanya suggested that I could reinvent myself in a new town. She said I could even give myself a new name if I wanted.
An idea was born.
That day, in a series of cleverly folded notes passed back and forth in Mr. Regan's Personal Science class (or whatever the hell it was called), Tanya and I decided that a cool nickname for me would be "Pete" or "Petey." It was settled.
Then, my family moved to Iowa. Fortunately, it was just in time for basketball season.
Let me tell you, Reader, I was a really good basketball player. A natural. I'm very coordinated. Athletic. I can hold my own on a basketball court.
A teammate named Crystal, one day during practice yelled "PAT!" to me in the middle of a fast break.
Pat? Who the hell is that?
Stop! Stop, I said! No one calls me "Pat!"
Crystal complained that my name was too long to be yelled out in the middle of a fast break. Three syllables. That's unreasonable in an emergency.
And then it occurred to me.
I told Crystal, "Pete. People at my old school called me 'Pete.""
And so... I became Pete on my basketball team. Outside of basketball, friends found "Petey" more...friendly.
These are things I don't think about very often. So when an old friend sends me a note addressed to "Petey," it's fond and familiar. A girl I forgot: Pete.