Judy Blume

Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

To My Mother


Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. We're moving today. I'm so scared God. I've never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please help me God. Don't let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you.

We moved on the Tuesday before Labor Day. I knew what the weather was like the second I got up. I knew because I caught my mother sniffing under her arms. She always does that when it's hot and humid, to make sure her deodorant's working. I don't use deodorant yet. I don't think people start to smell bad until they're at least twelve. So I've still got a few months to go.

I was really surprised when I came home from camp and found out our New York apartment had been rented to another family and that we owned a house in Farbrook, New Jersey. First of all I never even heard of Farbrook. And second of all, I'm not usually left out of important family decisions.

But when I groaned, 'Why New Jersey?' I was told, 'Long Island is too social-Westchester is too expensive-and Connecticut is too inconvenient.'

So Farbrook, New Jersey it was, where my father could commute to his job in Manhattan, where I could go to public school, and where my mother could have all the grass, trees and flowers she ever wanted. Except I never knew she wanted that stuff in the first place.

The new house is on Morningbird Lane. It isn't bad. It's part brick, part wood. The shutters and front door are painted black. Also, there is a very nice brass knocker. Every house on our new street looks a lot the same. They are all seven years old. So are the trees.

I think we left the city because of my grandmother, Sylvia Simon. I can't figure out any other reason for the move. Especially since my mother says Grandma is too much of an influence on me. It's no big secret in our family that Grandma sends me to summer camp in New Hampshire. And that she enjoys paying my private school tuition (which she won't be able to«do any more because now I'll be going to public school). She even knits me sweaters that have labels sewed inside saying Made Expressly for You… by Grandma.

And she doesn't do all that because we're poor. I know for a fact that we're not. I mean, we aren't rich but we certainly have enough. Especially since I'm an only child. That cuts way down on food and clothes. I know this family that has seven kids and every time they go to the shoe store it costs a bundle. My mother and father didn't plan for me to be an only child, but that's the way it worked out, which is fine with me because this way I don't have anybody around to fight. Anyhow, I figure this house-in-New-Jersey business is my parents' way of getting me away from Grandma. She doesn't have a car, she hates buses and she thinks all trains are dirty. So unless Grandma plans to walk, which is unlikely, I won't be seeing much of her. Now some kids might think, who cares about seeing a grandmother? But Sylvia Simon is a lot of fun, considering her age, which I happen to know is sixty. The only problem is she's always asking me if I have boyfriends and if they're Jewish. Now that is ridiculous because number one I don't have boyfriends. And number two what would I care if they're Jewish or not?


We hadn't been in the new house more than an hour when the doorbell rang. I answered. It was this girl in a bathing suit.

'Hi,' she said. 'I'm Nancy Wheeler. The real estate agent sent out a sheet on you. So I know you're Margaret and you're in sixth grade. So am I.'

I wondered what else she knew.

'It's plenty hot, isn't it?' Nancy asked.

'Yes,' I agreed. She was taller than me and had bouncy hair. The kind I'm hoping to grow. Her nose turned up so much I could look right into her nostrils.

Nancy leaned against the door. 'Well, you want to come over and go under the sprinklers?'

'I don't know. I'll have to ask.'

'Okay. I'll wait.'

I found my mother with her rear end sticking out of a bottom kitchen cabinet. She was arranging her pots and pans.

'Hey Mom. There's a girl here who wants to know if I can go under her sprinklers?' 'If you want to,' my mother said. 'I need my bathing suit,' I said.

'Gads, Margaret! I don't know where a bathing suit is in this mess.'

I walked back to the front door and told Nancy, 'I can't find my bathing suit.'

'You can borrow one of mine,' she said.

'Wait a second,' I said, running back to the kitchen. 'Hey Mom. She says I can wear one of hers. Okay?'

'Okay,' my mother mumbled from inside the cabinet. Then she backed out. She spit her hair out of her face. 'What did you say her name was?'

'Umm… Wheeler. Nancy Wheeler.'

'Okay. Have a good time,' my mother said.

Nancy lives six houses away, also on Morningbird Lane. Her house looks like mine but the brick is painted white and the front door and shutters are red.

'Come on in,' Nancy said.

I followed her into the foyer, then up the four stairs leading to the bedrooms. The first thing I noticed about Nancy 's room was the dressing table with the heartshaped mirror over it. Also, everything was very neat.

When I was little I wanted a dressing table like that. The kind that's wrapped up in a fluffy organdy skirt. I never got one though, because my mother likes tailored things.

Nancy opened her bottom dresser drawer. 'When's your birthday?' she asked.

'March,' I told her.

'Great! We'll be in the same class. There are three sixth grades and they arrange us by age. I'm April.'

'Well, I don't know what class I'm in but I know it's Room Eighteen. They sent me a lot of forms to fill out last week and that was printed on all of them.'

'I told you we'd be together. I'm in Room Eighteen too.' Nancy handed me a yellow bathing suit. 'It's clean,' she said. 'My mother always washes them after a wearing.'

'Thank you,' I said, taking the suit. 'Where should I change?'

Nancy looked around the room. 'What's wrong with here?'

'Nothing,' I said. 'I don't mind if you don't mind.'

'Why should I mind?'

'I don't know.' I worked the suit on from the bottom. I knew it was going to be too big. Nancy gave me the creeps the way she sat on her bed and watched me. I left my polo on until the last possible second. I wasn't about

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