“I’m 12 now, I’m not a little kid anymore.” I spoke to my best friend, Vince next door that summer. He was a year older than me and we went through the various stages of childhood together, comics and all. “Yeah” he said in a deeper voice now. I was still that transition stage before my own voice lowered a few octaves. “It’s a different world in Junior high,” he said in a monotone voice. I just nodded and agreed.
What did I know? Both my parents had remarried that year, my dad and stepmother were expecting a baby girl in the fall and my mom and stepfather were expecting a baby boy a few months later after that. Yeah, it was a different world all right. Of course it all became different when my grandfather passed away that July.
The man who once told me how great Green Lantern was had headed to his own Emerald Halls. I felt a true part of my childhood end that summer leading to my entry into junior high and that’s when the true “Peter Parker” factor kicked in. For those who don’t know, the Peter Parker factor is how the Amazing Spider-man was treated in his early years… bullying.
I can’t count the times I was punched somewhere or shoved into a locker or had some practical joke played on me but it was a lot. To emphasis this nerd factor, I was wearing glasses now and I sported a hear style even I want to punch myself over now that I look back on it (peer pressure). To top the true nerd factor, I had excelled in science and history classes (not math) and I had my own Flash Thompson plaguing me day in and day out. I had lost my grandfather who I had loved and encouraged me and help raise me and I was spending most days with my grandmother as her own health started to fail. Where were the radioactive spider and the Green Goblin?
The answer was this wasn’t the Marvel Universe, this was my own life and things had changed dramatically in a short time. Soon even more with the death of my grandmother and my father and stepmother having a boy and later a girl, causing me to go from an only child to being the oldest of 5 in just a few short years. Of course life changes again, the bullying stops, you get older and then you enter high school.
You start at the bottom as a freshman and face the next four years optimistically, but things can still pull you down. It starts with that dreaded session, summer school. You sacrifice two months of your summer for two hours of late classes and completing your homework early so you can go places and hang out with your friends but then you realize… you aren’t doing anything with anyone but yourself.
That’s the depressing and like a big commercial for some new drug, the depression starts to linger. Some days it’s a small puddle; other days it’s Darkseid descending on you from on high. Things look grim and then you quote a phrase: “Do I matter?” and before you know it a blade is in your hand, but a voice rings out in your head saying: “You do!” an that’s when you know you’ve hit rock bottom, but now it’s all up from there.