I knew something was different. Something about me was not like the others. I watched. I listened. I tried to listen. Why do they do that? Why? I don’t understand. Why are all little girls like that? Why am I not like them? Oh I’m tired of noticing.
My first “best, good friend” was a neighbor boy that no other child was allowed to play with– I was quiet and reserved. He was clearly, what would now be diagnosed as, ADHD. Needless to say, a lot of time was spent watching this vibrant, busy boy. The boy with blonde hair and blue eyes, who came to my door so many times, and I would let him in. There was a price to being friends with the neighborhood “bad” child, especially when you already have your own bag of awkward.
The cost? He was my only friend. I wasn’t invited to play, to spend the night, to the parties in the neighborhood. We would watch as kids would crowd into a house with their presents and balloons. All those bodies in such a small space, the smells, the noise, we were happier talking about not being amidst the chaos. But, secretly, we both hurt. Somewhere in there, it stung not to be included.
My family moved a lot. We owned our home, but my dad was a dreamer. He was a doer, and we were along for the ride. I’d wave bye to my best buddy, and feel guilty for leaving him in such a place.
They’re mean. They’ll hurt his feelings, and I….I won’t be there. My poor friend.
But…we’d come back. He’d be taller, bigger, never quieter. It was the circus friendship, anything was possible…
Finally, we moved for the last time. We never came back, and I never saw him again. Weston. His name was Weston.
Friendships became interchangeable for a long time. It comes with moving. It comes with poor understanding of social norms and expectations. Do you know every classroom has the tall girl, the chubby kid, the one freckled boy, the jock, the smarty pants, and the smelly kid? They all have it, and somehow, they all sort of look similar. I learned to study everyone around me. I was always looking for clues into their world.
Oh, I could talk. I could do all the things expected of a developing child. In fact, I was advanced in a lot of areas. I knew all the answers in class, blurting them out uncontrollably. I couldn’t help it! Wasn’t it obvious to everyone else in the room? If I didn’t know something, I learned it. I did it with speed. I stayed far away from things I couldn’t understand. There were things I could not comprehend.
So, I dribble, run, and then shoot? Wait. When? At what point? Can I just read? I’ll read the playbook. Yes. That’s what I’ll do.
I remember childhood being confusing, and everything impacted me deeply, honestly, and it hurt. I was happy. But, more than anything, I wanted to understand.