The Wallflowers, ‘Hand Me Down’

I love this song. It’s me in there. Even as I prep for this race and prepare to meet people I have befriended online or whom I have met only once, I feel like this. Do I have a right to be where they are? Am I, as always, a mere figure who moves in and out of lives, not really needed? Okay for a moment, but please don’t stay too long?

Maybe. I remember as a kid, wanting to be a part of the group that lived in my neighborhood. My family was the poor one in an otherwise fairly middle-class area. We wore hand-me-downs given by neighbors. I wore my brothers’ shoes when they grew out of them. Sometimes, I was asked to play with the kids my age. I could sing and did pretty well putting on plays. But I had no other talents. I wore thick glasses. And our house was not so nice.

It was the girls, mostly. They would play when they felt I was needed, but when I was not, these same girls became as cold and cruel as can be. I still remember one morning, running to the corner to meet up and walk with everyone to school. It was probably first or second grade. I was excited for some reason, and happy. No sooner did I get there, however, and I was told very coldly, “What are you doing? We don’t want you here; go away!” Someone laughed at my clothes and told me to walk by myself. Really.

At that moment, I sure felt like a hand-me-down. Alone. Worthless. Ugly.

My life has been one of not-joining since then. Or at least, joining but not connecting too closely, for fear that someone might see the hand-me-down that I really am, in their eyes.

Alone, I know I am special. Before others’ eyes, I don’t feel that way.

Saturday, I will run as if I were alone.
I will be in the midst, a rag-tag girl on her own, running.

Alone, I will fly.

Perhaps this once, I will find someone with me.


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