At least four people had tried turning the handle on that gas station washroom door. But I hadn’t finished washing my hair, and it’d been far too long since I’d felt clean water run up passed my neck, ears and forehead as I stand head upside down in that filthy ,unmonitored and barely running sink. Typically we’d head to the public pool and pay two dollars each to shower but we were so busy, and so, found ourselves here on the edge of the city and passed any line of comfort now. I was fourteen, I remember, and my mother and sisters waited for their turn to shower quickly in the sink of this washroom while I stood on the inside making what was greasy feel a little more clean.

I put my head a little further under, in hopes I could drown out the sound of that turning door, and heard the loud rushing of water cleanse what I couldn’t help but feel and let go of. The fear of truth, and knowing I’m not what those magazines would want me to be. At fourteen I knew I needed either to hide, or find comfort in knowing my story was all mine.

The people outside that door, they could hear me in there. Maybe, perhaps they even knew me. What if they knew me?! I finished with my two-in-one Pert Plus and wrapped my sopping wet hair in the small towel I’d brought in with me. Grabbing paper towel to wipe the water left inevitably to run down my face I recognized something older, perhaps wiser or worse for the wear. This right here, was life and I needed to make the choice this life were for living.

I was fourteen. Standing in the bathroom of a gas station washing my hair and thinking to myself; they don’t even know. And they don’t even know me. And how many of us are out there who don’t know each other and yet know what its like to be in each others shoes? Who couldn’t find me and tell me they too had it rough growing up? Who couldn’t relate to me like I, and they, needed to relate to? Maybe, even more so, there were people out there who had no idea about me, but could learn from it anyhow? Maybe I’d been hoping to hide and others were hoping I’d show up honest, vulnerable and confident. Maybe.

This time there was a knock on that scuffed up washroom door. I was terrified, but I needed to know that they knew me.Whoever they were anyhow.

More than any other thing I needed to know I wasn’t hiding behind some door participating in something simply ceremonial all the while with them having no idea at all. Sure it wasn’t my favorite time, but I had a place to clean up, and I had my team just outside that door. I had family, and hope, and love, and something so simple it were cleansing me right there.

I’d dropped that used paper towel in the garbage and took the towel off my wet teenaged head. Walked out that door and found only my mother waiting there. She waited last in line, and went in with a smile in her eyes. And I just knew, there was something simply ceremonial there.