Amazing Kids! Magazine

Funky Fashion for Friends

By Ryan Traynor, Assistant Editor

 

Drake sat in the front seat of his mother’s 2002 minivan packed full of all their belongings and listened to the purr of the engine as he stared blankly out the window. Normally the slight vibration of the firing cylinders would lull him off to an awkward sleep with his head cocked to the side and his mouth wide open. Today, however, a gnawing irritation ignited a burning sensation in his belly and he couldn’t manage to keep his eyes closed for more than a minute. Drake slapped the dashboard with frustration as he realized what was making him jittery in his seat – fear.

His mother, rather than yelling at him for scaring her while driving, just managed a slight glance his way.  Then, with a quiet sigh, she returned to her perpetual stare down the long highway.

Drake shifted again in his seat, tired after spending the last 7 hours on the road only to know there was another two to go. The long, straight, boring drive up I5 to San Jose, CA was not a good indicator of what he had to look forward to there. He had moved before – first when his parents had separated, and then when his mother got divorced and couldn’t find a decent job to support them. That time had brought him to Kingman, AZ – a dry, flat, hot area that he had eventually accepted as his home. He felt at ease there – did well at school, member of the football team, had his first date. This time was different, however. His mother was looking forward to the move because she was finally getting her dream job. Drake, however, was not looking forward to starting another high school at 16. He had settled in well in at Kingman and the thought of starting Junior year at a high school where all the cliques had already been formed made him sweat in his seat. He doubted if he could make the football team because all the boys would already know the plays and been able to form that invisible communication created within close knit teams. His mother did not understand his reservations. She thought that moving to just an hour south of San Francisco would be exciting for him. Part of it was the rose-colored glasses she was wearing because of her elation over her new job. The other part was her wishing he could adjust to make her life easier. He knew that all he had been doing for the last 3 months was complaining about the move. The stress had made being in the same room with his mother almost unbearable. He was mad at himself for resenting her happiness over the move but he just couldn’t change the way he felt.

They pulled into the driveway of their new home and Drake was even more frustrated. This house was half as big as their house in Kingman. His mother had explained the cost of living differences between the two areas, but when faced with the impact on his day-to-day life, Drake groaned a “Just Great!” before he could catch himself.

He spent the rest of the day unloading the trailer attached to the van and arranging the furniture in the small house. His room did have a nice view of some rolling hills and a blue sky which made him feel a little better. As he drifted off to sleep that night, Drake found himself dreaming of the nearby ocean and felt as if he was drifting out to sea on a turbulent current.

Throughout the week Drake and his mother had to fill out paperwork at the school district and he tried to get better settled in. He met the football coach and arranged a private tryout time. Things were starting to look up.

Now Drake stood in front of his dresser the night before school. Throwing all his shirts out on the bed, he realized that nothing seemed right. Living in California, he would have to try to fit in. In Arizona no one cared about how you looked or what you wore. Here, there were movie stars and fashion trendsetters. He knew nothing of these things. In frustration, he balled up his shirts in his arms and crammed them into the drawer. He didn’t care. He knew whatever he did, it would not work.

The next morning Drake woke up, reached into his dresser and grabbed a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt without much thought. As he walked through the halls of the new school, he felt all eyes on him. He was a fish out of water. Amidst the polo shirts and khaki pants, his jeans and father’s old Rolling Stones tee-shirt stood out like a sore thumb. He looked ahead and pretended he didn’t notice everyone looking him up and down. The minutes of the day passed like molasses.

His mother called out to him when she got home from work. Drake ignored her, not wanting to talk about his miserable day. They ate dinner in silence and he retreated to his room to finish his homework and watch a little youtube.

The next morning he was even more disinterested in picking out his clothes than he was the day before. He grabbed a tee-shirt out of the laundry basket and then, to cover up the wrinkles, grabbed a collared shirt to go over it. On the way to school he realized his mistake. It was 8 in the morning and he was already hot because the shirt he grabbed was long-sleeved. He rolled up the sleeves so he wouldn’t boil throughout the day. When he arrived at school he noticed people still looking at him. He tried to disappear into the crowds but he always found that the people would part, leaving him to be checked out by all the cliques. He had never before felt more under the microscope.

As the scrutiny became more intense, Drake purposely cared less and less about what he wore to school. One day he grabbed an old black and white scarf to cover a stain. The next he grabbed an old button-down shirt from last year that was a little too small, causing it to be form fitting. He’d toss on his canvas sneakers or dessert boots to bring his mind back home to Arizona.

On the morning he’d worn his dad’s old black retro sunglasses to try to be invisible, he opened his eyes behind his shield and noticed something different. The people looking at him for school were giving a slight nod to him as he passed by. In the hallways he started noticing a change. There were old retro tee-shirts touting names such as Fender guitar and bands like Queen, Journey, and Led Zeppelin. Kids were rolling their shirts up over tee-shirts. Scarfs were popping up everywhere as fashion accessories. Bright canvas sneakers were poking out from under worn jeans. These looks were not of alientation, but of appreciation. They liked what he wore.

“Hey!” said the halfback from the football team. “Where’d you get those shades?”

“My dad,” Drake said as he pushed them up on top of his head.

“Cool.  Want to join us over at the game store after practice on Friday? A bunch of us are going over to hang out to try out some new games.”

“Sure,” Drake said. “See you there.”

Drake met a bunch of guys that Friday and even some of the girls that stopped by to chat. They said to him, “That’s right – you’re that new kid. Cool outfits, Drake.”

Drake didn’t know what to say. He just acted surprised and said, “Whatever.”

They giggled and he could tell that somehow that made him even cooler to them, although he couldn’t figure out why.

He went home that night and had a nice conversation with his mom about how school was starting to look okay now. It was the first real conversation they had had since the move. He gave his mom a hug and went up to his room.

Sitting on his bed he thought about his time here. His perspective made him think that everyone was judging him when they were just trying to figure him out. He decided that he would be more open to the kids here. He was beginning to feel happy because they were starting to accept him for who he was.

The next morning he took a few minutes more to pick out his clothes then shook his head. He wasn’t going to change because he knew they noticed now. He would just be himself. If his funky fashion had gained him friends, he would just be his normal self and see where it took him. He reached for his shirt with the button detail at the neck and jeans and threw a colored neckerchief on the belt hoop for laughs. Yes, he would be himself and maybe his new California friends would be more relaxed in the end too.