Digestion, Gut Health, and Me: Senior Year (Part I)

“The bus will be here soon,” my grandmother announced.

I hadn’t been on a school bus since the eighth grade, but it was different here. Here was a podunk town too small for a transit system. Everyone rode the school bus. Kindergartners and twelfth graders, alike, all on the bus headed to the same building to learn the required curriculum.

“Okay,” I replied, then excused myself to the bathroom for the second time that morning. I hadn’t even eaten breakfast, so I wasn’t sure why my stomach was gurgling and what my body was eliminating.

“Are you nervous?” My grandmother asked.

I was.

The first day of senior year was nothing like I’d envisioned. My friends in Chicago, the ones I’d gone to school with since first or seventh grade knew me. They knew I was part goofy, part serious. They knew if I looked at you funny, then I was probably judging your hair, clothes, or speech. But they also didn’t care. Would these new people understand, or would they do like most new people did with me and assume I was stuck up or bougie?

“No,” I replied. It was easier than admitting the truth and then having her turn my fear into a speech about the uselessness of fear or into some inspirational moment on apprehension.

I went to the bathroom one more time.

“The bus should’ve been here by now. School’s starting soon,” my grandmother said. “Bernie, you’ll have to take her.”

Divine intervention. My stomach was relieved. I wasn’t supposed to be on the school bus after all, not at seventeen, not my senior year, not today. Maybe God would also perform some act that reversed everything that had happened up until this point. Maybe I would be transported back to Chicago, where I would meet my friends on the L, where we’d revel in our senior status, mimic house music songs while waiting on the train, and fantasize about post-graduation plans.


My grandfather dropped me off in front of the one-story brick building.

“Have a good day,” he said.

“Okay, I replied,” and I knew I would because I planned on keeping quiet and shrinking into the building and its smallness, hoping no one would notice me or my sudden urge to use the bathroom every ten minutes. I hoped I’d disappear into this nothingness of a town.


Digestion: Undergrad (Part II)

Digestion: Adulthood (Part III)

Digestion: Healing (Part IV)

50 thoughts on “Digestion, Gut Health, and Me: Senior Year (Part I)

  1. From Chicago and the L to the yellow limo. you poor thing, Katherin (well, the high school senior year version of you). I grew up in a podunk town (and got out as quickly as possible). Well, I didn’t even grow up in a town. I just grew up in podunk and rode the bus eight miles to the nothingness town. At any rate, I know how outsiders could be treated sometimes, especially if they came from cities or other parts of the country. Sometimes people like to get all boosterish and talk about how friendly everything is in the “country” but there are lots of different kinds of country, I think anyone could agree on that. And I shudder to think of how things went for you, that last year of h.s. Hopefully there were some good things. Coming from Chicago, I can’t imagine the culture shock for a teenager to deal with

    this reminds me, my podunk high school was so backward, my freshman year, the admin took all the doors off the student restroom toilet stalls. So you would’ve been in serious trouble at my school. During fall sports for the next four years, my best friend and I used to spot each other, after school, in the loneliest bathroom in the whole school, we’d take turns doing our after-school #2 in the stall furthest from the door (for privacy) so we could run around at our practices! How ridiculous is that? I can get myself really riled up if I think of that, too much. I wish I could go back in a time machine and be a Greta Thornberg v3ersion of my teenage self and rip my principal a new one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LMAO Stalls with no doors??? That sounds borderline illegal. Can you imagine trying to get away with that with today’s children? There would be lawsuits all over the place.

      I do have to say that this was an all-Black little town, and the people were very kind. No one acted crazy. In fact, I was probably the standoffish one. They tried to get me to join the cheerleading team, and all kinds of stuff, and I was like ummm no lol

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      1. Were you north or south of Benton Harbor? They must have really seen something in you, to try and recruit you for the cheerleading squad. What intrinsic qualities can you think of, that you possessed to merit such attention? My mom has this hilarious story of when she tried out for her rinky dink cheerleading squad at the beginning of high school and got flat out rejected, it could’ve been partly because she had the most ridiculous, goofy cheer she made up for her tryout, that you’ve ever heard, involving the phraseology sis boom bah rah rah rah. But in her mind it was mostly because she was six feet tall, she’s fairly certain they rejected her on account of being a big girl with enormous feet

        Liked by 1 person

      2. North! So, I suppose maybe they thought I was motivational in some way :-/ But it could’ve also been because the school was really, really small, and they needed more cheerleaders. Either way, I wasn’t with it LOL

        Your mom’s story has me thinking no matter how small a school is, they still have cheerleading “standards” lol

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  2. I bet it was very hard to change schools your senior year, especially going from a larger urban school to a small rural one. I did that too, but in the sixth grade. It was hard, but not nearly as hard as what you went through. It’s almost impossible to find your group coming into a new school as a senior, plus you were dealing with a new living situation and everything else!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever gone through. You’re right. At least in the 6th grade, you can make friends and then go to high school!

      It was a lot, to say the least. Appreciate this compassionate answer, Ann.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, how I can emphasise with that terror of replacement, that moment of complete alienation, being transported from the comfort of knowing, into a space of no belonging.
    In my early youth, my family escaped from the eastern block into the west. The trauma of dislocation stayed with me forever and considerably influenced the direction of my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for this comment, McHapus. It’s something I’ve struggled to explain fully to people. It really was one of the worst times in my life.

      A sense of belonging is important for a healthy self, so I completely understand your situation, too. Trauma is a good word for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I read this, I immediately spiraled to all the times my stomach churned due to stress. I didn’t want to make my comment about me. But Katherin, your writing is so honest, relatable and literally “gut-wrenching.” I feel compelled to share.
    I didn’t make the connection until many years later, why I was so sick with what I thought was the stomach flu after undergoing my “forced marriage” ceremony. And when my mother was in a rehab facility, the smell there made me sick to my stomach and remember running to the bathroom. From that moment forward, I developed microscopic colitis and it plagued me for over a year. My sensitive stomach continues, but thankfully I am fine since I have very little that stresses me out anymore.
    I am sorry for what you went through going to a new high school in your senior year, Katherin. That sounds really tough, on top of all the other things you were dealing with!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s totally fine, Judy! I think comments should be about the person, so thanks for sharing.

      You know you and I have these parallel lives, so what you’ve written is exactly where I’m headed with this series. Stress and holding on to it has been a major cause of my gut issues throughout my entire life.

      Thanks for that compassion at the end. That time period really was one of the worse times of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

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