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2015 Texas Special Olympics

I came across something I wrote in 2015. With a few minor edits, I wanted to share what used to be a private post on social media. I wrote this six years ago today, on Feb. 5, 2015. It feels about right that I wrote this six years ago.

Tomorrow I am volunteering for 3 hours & 45 minutes at Highland Lanes bowling alley in honor of the 2015 Special Olympics. When I was little, two of my closest friends were often taken from the group or the class and placed with the other ‘special’ kids at our elementary school, and not the majority of us. (I put it in quotes because that’s what the teachers said.) Not always, but a lot of the time, we were separated for our classes, mostly sharing lunches, theater arts, music lessons, and the gymnasium. An adult was almost always accompanying the other special needs kids. That had to be a blessing and a burden for children to feel so supported and probably so smothered and isolated at times, too. It always bothered and confused me when we got split apart, and I didn’t fully understand why when I was little.

My friend Mark had blonde hair, blue eyes and wore X-Men shirts and Marvel comic book characters t-shirts, and had thick, thick glasses. He liked to impersonate people from movies and comics, and it made us all laugh. I do not know what doctors or specialists officially labeled his disability, but he was a very smart and gifted boy who knew that he could often act very disturbed at times, and you could tell it really frustrated him. It was intense for other students when he would get angry because we didn’t always understand why or what was going on. It could be disheartening to watch his bad days, because we all liked him, and you could tell he wanted to be with us, but that sometimes triggers were going off inside his head that sent him into rages or hysteria. I saw him cry a few times and that was always so hard. Then again, I also recall so many times he would bounce around a corner or run up to me with a massive smile on his face, and tell me random facts like, “Did you know the human body is mostly made of water?” I always liked it at the end of a conversation when he would dismiss me and say, “Be gone!” But it was said with a smile, terms of endearment.

My other friend was a girl, Nikky. We took music classes together at the local Jewish Community Center. We were both in gifted and talented classes together called PEP and PROMISE. Ribbons in her brunette hair, she had one bow on each side of her Pippi Longstocking looking braids. Nikky had a rolling walker to push herself everywhere on flat surfaces or ramps, braces on both knees. Something happened in the womb that disabled her legs to work correctly as a kid, and she could not support herself without the walker or help from elders or friends. I always admired her patience and gentle personality: I never heard her complaining. Me being such a tomboy and an intense Mallow child–I know I would have been a misery to be around with my fiery, intense demeanor and no way to move independently, always reliant on others. She, on the other hand was much more gracious, always in good spirits and kind-hearted. Very rarely did she have a breakdown. However, when there was a breakdown, it was bad. I was like an older big sister to her, yet we were the same age. I would carry her books and backpack and walk her down the hall in between classes–or sometimes a teacher would ask me to walk her early before class was released.

I was such a good friend to her: protecting her from bullies, helping open doors, set up our instruments at The JCC, carry lunch trays, picking up books and throw away the trash. I was helping her get ready for gym class and use the bathroom. Then again, maybe I wasn’t a great friend? It dawned on me in my late 20s that I had no idea what happened to our friendship.

One year I just became more consumed with my own needs in elementary. I can’t even recall the year or how it came to be, only that by the 5th grade, she was not as present in my life. I didn’t go and play with Barbies with her after school anymore. Of course if I ever saw her in need, I would help. But I let go the responsibility of being the child who was always there. And I had to learn to forgive myself because I was just a kid with needs too. Even if they weren’t so obvious.

In hindsight, I was in a state where I truly needed help and I was not receiving the emotional and mental support I needed… I just couldn’t give to her what I did not have in my own life. Physically, I could help Nikky in every way, but mentally and emotionally, I had very little support to give at that age. Even if I always had a lot of love in my heart… Since I was only a kid in K-5, I shouldn’t beat myself up about fading out. Most kids didn’t even help out at all and that’s the reason why I was assigned the task. I wasn’t like most kids, a very old soul beyond her years. I always had a tender heart for people that were different.

Anyway, I moved to Lake Travis in the 6th grade and lost touch with all of my elementary friends. But it can still haunt me to think about and I hope Nikky is alright. I hope Mark is alright, too… Either way, I guess when I think about it. I am volunteering tomorrow mostly in respect of Mark and Nikky, childhood friends I lost touch with. Plus I’ve been wanting to go to a bowling alley. Though I will not get to bowl tomorrow, maybe I’ll pick up some new skills by watching.

I hope it heals some old wounds by trying to do something nice for those in need now that I am a strong adult that can support herself.

Published by Nicolette Mallow

‡ Nicolette Mallow is an Artist: writer, dancer, vocalist, thespian, model, and (amateur) photographer. Writing is Mallow’s strongest artistic skill. Internationally published in the United States and Europe, Nicolette has obtained 110+ publications thus far. Mallow has interviewed an extensive list of talent and collaborated with companies and PR teams from Texas Monthly, National Geographic, Prevention Magazine, HBO Films, The Hollywood Reporter, SXSW, The David Lynch Foundation, Cine Las Americas, The University of Texas at Austin and more. Presently her portfolio entails 12 national awards or scholarships, including both individual and group projects. Working with Press and Publicity teams from companies like Sunshine Sachs, Fons PR, Frank PR, and CW3PR — Mallow can liaise with publicists, entrepreneurs, and their brands. Since 2005, for 17 years, Nicolette Mallow has covered numerous press, corporate and red carpet events as a (dyslexic) writer. Mallow has interviewed talent far beyond her years, including Jimmy Chin, Greta Gerwig, Bob Roth, Dr. Travis Stork, Joan Lunden, Larysa DiDio, Lauren Handel Zander, James White, Jay Roach, Naomi Whittel and Roc Chen. Once, she was a public speaker for a national business conference. Her career is diverse and transcends a vast array of industries, but the focus is always on the arts. Nicolette Mallow does enjoy all forms of writing, but her favorite writing genres to create entail editorial, arts & entertainment, literary journalism, travel, magical realism, nonfiction, technical and promotional publicity. Over time Nicolette has attained Press Credentials to events like Texas Film Awards (hosted by Austin Film Society), The Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin Film Festival, Euphoria Music Festival, and The Blanton Museum of Art. She also wrote for Savannah Magazine, a radio station operated by EMMIS Communications, District newspaper, and the Thinkery (formerly Austin Children’s Museum). In her spare time, Nicolette creates a magical realism novel and turns her nonfiction memoirs into short story novellas. Obtaining two degrees from the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), she has a Master of Arts degree in Arts Administration (a graduate degree now recognized as Creative Business Leadership) and a B.F.A. in Writing. Born and raised in Texas and NYC—Nicolette Mallow is also a world traveler that lives for art and loves to learn. “L’art Pour L’art.”

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