That Time I Fell In A Manhole

That Time I Fell In A Manhole

A story for the books.

All of a sudden, my head was level with the feet of the person walking in front of me, and I heard my counselor Kevin’s frantic yell for help. I had fallen into a manhole. What a fantastic first impression, right?

The night before, I experienced the familiar vomit-inducing stomach pangs I had felt every time I left home since I went to sleep-away camp for the first time at nine years old. I wondered how I was going to be able to survive this month-long trip abroad, far from my family and friends. When I was eight years old, my father passed away from mucosal melanoma. Since then, I have been incredibly close to my mother, my anchor, my confidant and above all best friend, so walking into the unknown, I blinked away my tears of nostalgia, and bravely boarded the plane to Spain, with 30 strangers, most of whom came on the trip with a friend. Exiting the plane onto the runway, I could feel the sun’s scorching rays turning my skin from an unnaturally pale complexion to that of a lobster.

Walking alone amidst this group of talkative teens from seemingly everywhere but Massachusetts, I was quiet for possibly the first time in the entirety of my existence. Usually in uncomfortable situations such as these, I use my sense of humor to maneuver my way out of the awkwardness because making people laugh has always been my way of breaking barriers. I smiled at the bus driver as I sauntered onto the vehicle that was to take us to our new home for the next few weeks. I sat down, and I watched the foreign world that was Madrid pass by me. The magnificence of the architecturally wondrous city caught my eye instantly with the feel of a new universe I had yet to explore. Within an hour of our arrival, Kevin informed us that he was going to lead a walking tour around the area in which we would reside. I dragged myself along, barely able to keep my eyes open.

Like a black hole, the manhole suddenly sucked me into its gut-wrenchingly odorous depths. Fairly unscathed, I climbed out of what had minutes before been a closed sewer, and the first thing I noticed when I emerged, was 30 unfamiliar faces staring down at me. I’m sure my expression would have matched theirs had I seen a 5’11” Amazon suddenly fall through a hole in the ground. My height is a descriptor that others and I have used for most of my life, including my Dad who would joke that I could eat all the children in my grade. This hilarious yet disconcertingly valid remark rings true even today. Any normal human being would have immediately turned beet red in the midst of this situation, but I started to laugh. I laughed until I choked on the nauseating, gaseous fumes circling the manhole and started crying because of my incessant coughing, and I laughed until everyone started to laugh with me. This hyena-like laughter is one of the many traits I proudly inherited from my Dad, and one that I have been told numerous times by my grandparents that I emulate more and more as I mature.

After having fallen into the manhole, any shred of homesickness I had felt vanished. This incident, no matter how seemingly embarrassing and clumsy, was my avenue into gaining the acceptance I needed from my peers to be myself on the trip. My laughter broke the ice. My whole life, humor has acted as that pathway. What my fellow travelers saw was my true nature; I was not acting out the role of a well-written character on stage as I did in theater. I was Sydney. Well, the new Sydney; one who avoids manholes like the plague.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Dear teacher that I used to love,

I used to love going to your classes in elementary school.

I used to love the after school activities that you would have.

I used to love coming over spending the night (since I became friends with your daughter).

I loved all the new things everyone introduced me to.

I loved how you would let me stay for a week because the snow wouldn't stop.

But somehow that all began to change...due to one little incident.

It was a misunderstanding, but how it was dealt with at the beginning was not right.

Calling out a high schooler when your the adult also is not the right way

Calling them out on social media is never the right way to deal with things, no matter the situation.

It hurt me that you felt that way about me, and the things that were said on that post hurt.

So when you apologized to me one day about it, and then asking me to come and join an activity like nothing ever happened.

At that time I couldn't forgive because I was still hurt and angry by everything that happened.

From that post it told me how you felt about me, over something that was miscommunicated. But because we had slightly different views on things that worsened things in my opinion.

Sure did I comment on somethings saying my opinion on things? Yes. But it was just to bring in information that most people didn't fully understand, not to bring you down.

Now today if I see you in public sometimes we say hi, but not so much anymore.

I see on social media that you comment on other students accomplishments in school or in life.

But whenever I post something about my life, or an article I get nothing. And honestly, it hurts a lot.

I would think I would at least get a like, but honestly I feel that anything I post doesn't even get looked at.

I have moved passed that post. The hurt is still there though.


Your former elementary school student

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