Monday, November 14, 2011

Social Missteps

She remembered in Jr. High, the feeling that she was too loud, too big, too nerdy, too poor. Despite all this abundance she was never enough to be popular. Never enough to be treated kindly. No one envied her. No one wanted to be around her much less be like her. In Jr. High, she would sit at the lunch tables, hiding in a book. She read literally hundreds of books because she did nothing else. She did not go over to other kids' houses. Never meet to hang out at the park. Instead, she walked the long road home (she would never submit herself willing to the torture of the bus) and would go up to her room to read. Later she would hid behind weird haircuts, drugs, and alcohol.

But it never helped. She was always out of step with those around her. Socialness was a dance between saying just enough, being just enough, being able to judge that enough in those around you. She never gained at that ability. In college, it was easy enough to seek out those who didn't know the dance. They formed a kind of family in which it was okay to speak too loudly or not enough. To be able to fuck up and know that while someone might get mad they'd forgive you. And it was a good feeling to belong.

But when she left college, she left behind that social net. She found safety in her own family but discovered quickly that the world out there was rather like Jr. High. There still people who wanted you to be something that she didn't quite understand. In defense, she started to carry books again so that she could hid behind their covers and in their words.

1 comment:

Jennifer Welborn said...

My Jr. High experience was very much like this...except I was too 'scrawny' rather than too big. I also never fell into drug abuse, though I'm certainly guilty of weird haircuts (and weirder hair colors) and drinking alcohol much too young.

But I get the social awkwardness and I can certainly say that I've been so grateful for anything in my life as I was for you and Sean during my first year of grad school.

I think I would have quit altogether (instead of transferring to a different department) after all the bs that I was put through if not for the two of you. I don't know that I ever said thank you for that, but thank you.

Sometimes I think you and Sean are the only people in the world who get it.

I also hide behind books. Sorry for this novel length comment :)