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Once we were moved into 8341 Henry Circle and settled, it was time to explore new surroundings.
Our neighborhood consisted of two cul-de-sacs. We lived in the second house on the right.
My stepmother set up a babysitting business right away to make extra income. I remember there being kids in our house all the time—some were from the neighboring houses.
My step sister was very social and had an easy time making friends.
I, on the other hand, was very awkward and anti-social. Being tall, skinny, and gangly looking with frizzy hair, I didn't have much self-confidence. I was painfully shy with strangers. If I got to know someone, it wasn't long until they would have a reason not to like me. No one would ever tell me why they stopped talking to me.
I assume it was very hard for me to make and keep friends because I always spoke my mind. A lot of the kids didn't like that about me.
Most of the people in the neighborhood thought I was weird. It probably didn't help that my stepmother would tell people I was slow, stupid, or retarded.
It wasn't just my neighbors, either. A lot of my parents' friends never invited me anywhere. There was one couple who always took my step-sister places. I don't ever remember them inviting me to anything. My parents never seemed to care or think it was weird. It didn't bother me until later when I started noticing it.
I was more the type of kid who would rather play in my room with my toys than to be outside with others anyways.
My step-sister started being friends with one of the neighborhood boys named Brian right off the bat. He was a year older than her. I personally never liked him. I thought he was a jerk. He was a troublemaker and a bad influence. I can see why they stayed friends, though. She and he were very much alike. She used to push me around because she knew she was bigger than me. Even though she was only seven months older, she was about 20 lbs heavier than I.
It took me some time but eventually, I did make a friend or two.
One of the children I became friends with was a girl whose grandmother lived in the neighborhood. Michelle and I met when she was two and I was six but we didn't become good friends until I was eight and she was four. We were fast friends for a long time after that. Then there was Nicky and Wheezy who lived further down the street. Their father Paul and their mother Luo were nice people.
It didn't take long though for some of the parents in the neighborhood to start to not like my stepmother.
Luo, for instance, didn't care for her because she decided to drag Nicky down the street by her hair one day. Luo never forgave her for that. I was friends with both Nicky and Wheezy. (So named for how she wore her hair.)
Luo would not allow my stepmother in her house. If we were playing over there and she came to get us, she would have to wait outside until we came out.
Many times I would go spend the night with Luo and Paul's kids. Because I felt safe there. I loved their house. Luo would always go out to the store in the morning and get these rolls that had cheese on the top. They would allow me to eat cereal that my stepmother never would.
Our neighborhood was thankfully relatively safe. Everyone seemed to look out for other people's kids for the most part.
Our neighborhood wasn't bad. We knew whose house we could go to and whose we could not very quickly.
Our family managed to live in that same house for over eight years.
Next chapter: The family