I want to start by saying how much I appreciate you taking these trips with me. If you don’t mind, I hope you’ll follow me a little bit more into the next phase.
I hope you don’t mind me bringing you around like this. However, the more that I write to you, the more it makes sense that I bring you into these visions. Besides, how else can I keep you interested? So, in the interest of my story, I want to help you see my view more clearly.
I say this as your humble narrator because to me, this is more than a window to my childhood or to my life as it was. No, this is a different approach.
At least for me as I see it, this is a view from my window. This is where things began and to me, this is where the world began to build up its momentum.
I say this to you because there was always something surreal about my life and to me, I knew that life was happening. I knew what was happening but, at the same time, there was an odd surrealness to my life.
I can’t explain it more than this.
Do you know what it’s like to see life and though life is happening to you, there’s a weird detachment and state of disbelief. There’s a weird moral dilemma in the sense that you see what’s happening and you know that this is live and in person yet it’s like you’re watching things unfold as a spectator.
Better yet, did you ever fall in slow-motion?
You know you’re falling and you know you have the presence of mind as to what’s happening at the moment. You know that the fall is going to hurt and yet – in your moment of awareness of what’s about to pass, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about the fall except experience the crash.
This is more than trauma based thinking or derealization. At least to me, I would call this an honest account of growing up and trying to understand life around us.
Have ever felt this way?
Just curious because . . .
Well, I have.
There I am, over there.
I’m the sick one in the emergency room. Meanwhile, everyone else my age was living their life. They were playing with their friends and me, I was throwing up and sick.
I had troubles with being very sick as a young boy. However, in fairness to the integrity and honesty of my story, I fully acknowledge that my memories can possibly be slightly inaccurate or shaded by the blurriness of my young perception.
I didn’t know what was happening or why. I wasn’t sure if this was happening because I deserved this. I didn’t know if this was punishment for something I had done wrong or if I was being morally penalized for not being good or cool or athletically fit.
Maybe this was punishment because I couldn’t function like other kids. Or maybe this was because I often believed that I was a disappointment at home. Or maybe I was just doomed. Why else would I be sick all the time?
Either way, I was too young to understand what gastroenteritis meant. In fact, I’m still not sure why or what this is. However, all I knew is this was me.
I was in the hospital, tied to machines. I had needles in my arms that were connected to bags and tubes and no matter how tired or exhausted I was, I still couldn’t sleep.
I can remember being in the bed next to the window.
I can remember the view of the sun and the clear blue sky. Down below, the earth looked so green and pure. Everything was so beautiful and I was stuck in a room with needles in my arms and nurses checking in on me, on the hour and every hour – even if I was sleeping, they’d wake me up to check my vitals.
To be clear – I’m not sure if there were other problems in my body at the time. There could have been. I’m not sure if there was something else medically wrong. But either way, I was just a little kid.
I wanted to get up and out of that bed.
I wanted to see things and do things. Yet, the best I could do at the time was look out of a window and watch the world go by.
I offer this to help associate my later views of being somewhat of a spectator. There were other challenges which happened at this time and certainly one of them being the worst of my young life and nearly life-ending from a voluntary standpoint; however, I want to keep this hopeful and meaningful. Also, now that I have you with me as a witness, I don’t want to lose you to the sorry placements of youthful depression or anxiety.
Instead, I want to try to develop a connection between us. I want you to understand.
You, if no one else in the world – I want you to see this.
I want you to know because these are the experiences of my youth which, in a few short sentences, I will begin to transition us into the teen years – or should we call them the terrible teens or the confusing teen years? Maybe they were the troublesome teens which led me to the mischief, the disasters and the wildness of being in the crazy spotlights of attention.
I often wonder if it is the same or different from someone else’s perspective.
I often wonder if insecurity is more universal than we think; and therefore, maybe if we understood that no one among us is superman or supergirl, superwoman – or in today’s climate and to be sensitive to pronouns – no one among us is a superperson.
At least, not all the time and yet, each and every one of us has a super talent. We all have something.
We all have a beautiful characteristic that is wonderfully unique and perfectly different from anyone else in the world.
But there’s the trick to this. And the trick is to learn and understand how to see this, which to a kid; unless you’re tall, in-shape, fit, good-looking, or socially competent or better yet; unless you’re socially compatible and seemingly flawless, it’s hard to know or see your amazing qualities.
In fact, I have met people whose beauty outweighs their surroundings by far and yet; due to personal status or their place in the social food chain and the popularity columns, they never knew their place in this life. And therefore, this is where people begin to settle or trade their existence for substandard or unacceptable relationships.
Like the yin and young, one does not exist without the other.
One cannot breathe in without the other to exhale.
I see this as a great explanation of how we interact as people. I see this as an excellent description of our personal choices; how we act, who we interact with, and how we defend ourselves (or not).
I also see how this is where we learn about our intimacy and the process of intimate selections. I can see how this impacts our laws of attraction. And to some people; it’s any port in the storm. To some, any attention is good attention because any attention beats no attention, whatsoever.
I was that kid. I was that person. I was that boy and I was that teen.
I was me, always me, and though I never had anyone (like the me that I am now) to explain the benefits of me being as I am; I always wanted to be “that” person.
I wanted to be wanted.
I wanted to be desired. I wanted to be included and most of all, I wanted to be picked or chosen; if not first, then at least be in the top five or ten because let’s face it; no one wants to be picked last.
No one asks to be the uncomfortable one or the awkward one and certainly nobody wants to be unfit or untalented.
I can tell you that school is more of a socialization experiment than an educational experience.
So, to speed this up a notch – that’s me, right there in front of the double doors of my junior high school.
See how little I was?
I never thought I had seen anything so big or intimidating.
There were different hallways and different classrooms. There were different periods and different kids from different schools; all funneled into a place known as Woodland Junior High School.
I remember trying to navigate my way to the different classrooms. I remember the intimidation of home room. Oh my God!
There were kids who were older and who had grown and some of them had facial hair. And me, I was baby-like. I was little.
How the hell am I supposed to socially compete with them?
And by the way, as I write to you; I offer this without any sadness. In fact; I find my fingers are tapping at the keys with a stronger intention and my body is weaving back and forth in a rhythm because the words are flowing from my head like a madman and yet – I am not mad nor crazy. Instead, I am a person with the benefit of an honest view, which later turned out to be lifesaving.
Let’s get a picture together.
Think of the hallways, which get busy between periods. And then there was the cafeteria. There were the separate pods of people and different classifications of popularity, culture, and style. There was the unspoken segregation between the good kids and the nerdy kids and the socially unknown or vacant. There was the popular and the pretty or the socially justified who sat together near the right side of the cafeteria. And there were the tough kids and the bad kids, the rebellious and the smokers and those who were entering into the chemically experimental phases with weed or different drugs. And then the question for me is the same as the question for anyone: who did you want to be in this room? Where did you want to sit and who did you want to sit with and why?
Even if you made no choices to choose anyone or any specific group; this was still a choice and for all choices, there are reasons why we choose them.
Can you see the cafeteria?
See the tables?
Can you hear the chatter from all the kids?
All of them are laughing out laud and talking too loudly.
By this time, we are working with the fashion tragedies of the early to mid 1980’s. I can’t say that I look back and see the clothing styles and think to myself “I wish my old clothes from then came back into style,” and maybe they have. I remember acid washed jeans. I remember the bad hairstyles. I remember the hairspray the girls used, which smelled like grapes and due to an unfortunate experience with underage drinking; to this day, if I smell Aussie hairspray, I am overwhelmed with the thought of nausea.
I remember the gaudiness of gold chains, champion sweatshirts with turtlenecks under them; the hooped earrings and the scrunchy socks with with the white Keds sneakers that the girls wore. I remember girls wearing their boyfriend’s football jerseys.
I remember the desire to be wanted or picked and yet; I was also aware that my athletic ability was lacking, which meant the abuse from others would have led me to be made fun of – and I had enough of being made fun of.
I want you to think about the hallways. I want you to think about the random, passing faces in the crowd. Think about the smells from the classrooms or the dank, dinginess in the restrooms, which of course was a case of “Sit down at your own risk!”
Think about the different crowds. Think about the toughest kids in the school. Think about the common bullies and the uncommonness of those who wished they were different – and me, sure, i wished I was bigger, taller, smarter and faster. I wished that I was better looking. I wished that I was picked first instead of being someone who believed himself to be “in the middle,’ which meant neither good looking nor bad looking, just in the middle and somewhat unnoticeable.
By the way . . .
At my current age, I have delivered countless lectures from sixth grade, middle school, high school, college and even in some corporate atmosphere, and while I speak – I notice that I am speaking to a sea of nodding heads who agree and understand these concepts. But ah, I digress. This is for later.
So, let’s get back to the moment
I will say that youth is for the young; and safe to say that youth is wild. Or, at least my youth was wild. And maybe I was wild to give myself some flash. Maybe I used this as a shield and a mask.
There I am, sitting over there in the basement of my first real party.
Can you see me?
I’m the one who looks much younger than everybody else.
There was beer here and me; and well, I was never a good drinker.
Also, it would be a lie to say that I was not a willing participant. It would be dishonest to say that I had not tried to drink before. Keep in mind, I had an older brother who was part of the popular crowd.
He was bigger and stronger. He was faster and yes, he was one of the good looking crowd as well.
Dave had beer drinking parties at the house when my parents weren’t home and to be clear; there were a few times when he tricked me into drinking terrible things. Horrible things, which resulted in loud, gut-wrenching sounds of my puking into the toilet bowl (some baby sitter he was. And gee thanks a lot Mom! for leaving Dave in charge)
But back to the party, there was drinking and smoking and not just cigarettes. There was weed too and yes, I had tried this before, unsuccessfully though.
Beer was everywhere and I can still see the Budweiser cans in my head – oh, the red white and blue in them; but me, I was small and lightweight, which meant that I had the alcohol tolerance of a guppy.
This meant I had to fake it and nurse my beer and since this is not intended to be “cool” anymore, if I’m being honest – I could never stand the taste of beer. Not at all. But I had to figure this out because I wanted to fit in.
I wanted to be cool . . .
Not to mention the fact that there were girls at this party. Older girls too. Matured girls, formed with body parts that left very little to the imagination, and me, I am comfortable in saying that I have always been fascinated by the female body.
My preference is curves, soft skin, a body that you can hold and when you hold them; you can feel them, which is why I choose curves over the sliminess to the commercial norm.
See me? Shorter than everyone.
That’s me in the corner, holding a can of beer which might as well have gone down the drain. I am in the basement with wood-paneled walls and outdated decorations
There were chairs and there was a sofa. And I can’ say that I remember exactly how this looks but what I can say is this was the first time I learned about my social anxiety.
I was wondering how to talk to people. How do I speak and not be awkward? How do I talk to a girl and get her interested in me – even if there was no shot of getting her into the make-out room, which was the laundry room in the basement; what do I say to strike up a conversation?
How does this work?
Was it me?
Is this hard for everyone else too?
Would I ever find someone who would let me experience them a bit further than a simple kiss? And if so, was I ready to commit to this action or face the fears of being too small in every sense of the word?
And by the way, I was the smallest kid at the party. Absolutely!
I was in seventh grade and yet, at best I looked like I was about nine or ten.
That wasn’t altogether bad though.
I had girls tell me that I was cute before. I had girls tell me that I was cute, like a toy that they could play with, like a cuddly stuffed animal, which was somewhat okay.
This was good enough to land me some attention but to be clear, no one wants the cute little kid. At least not really.
No, the girls I knew wanted the big guys or the hot guys and me; I was too little to be hot – or so I was told.
So, envision this –
We’re in the basement of a small condo. I knew the girl who was throwing this party. Most of the people were either downstairs or standing outside. I was trying to maneuver between the upstairs and the downstairs.
I was trying to be “cool” if there was such a thing.
But me, I was painfully thin, terribly small, and socially uncomfortable.
Who would want to be with me?
Well, in fairness –
I found the first girl who would let me do more than say, kiss her cheek. It just happened.
And somehow, we found ourselves in the make-out room.
Only, not too much happened.
I was a bit too scared and not to mention, I was mainly underdeveloped for my age.
I had yet to reach that next level of teenage life.
I knew this because I had been in the gym when other kids took showers and me; I was petrified.
Everyone else had made their pass through the doorways of puberty and me – like I said, I had yet to sprout.
I admit to being intimidated but that’s okay though.
The girl let me touch a few things.
And she said she liked me.
She said that she would be my girlfriend.
There she is, standing over there by the doorway, waving goodbye because I had to split and go home. She had a bright smile and sun freckles on her cheeks. She was taller than me though, which was brought up in a few different conversations.
She made out with me one last time and that was it.
This was a Friday night, which means I had a girlfriend for almost two whole days because when Monday rolled around, some random girl came up to me to say, “Becca says she doesn’t want to go out with you anymore.”
And what do you say to that?
Nothin, I suppose.
All you can do is act as if you don’t care, which I kind of didn’t – but still, I wondered if it was because I was too small. I wondered if there was something wrong with me, which there might have been.
I do know that it was cool to be liked, even if it was only for a few days. It was definitely cool to learn what it feels like to kiss a girl. But there was something that didn’t stick – at least not in this case.
Maybe someone told her I was too little.
Or maybe she broke up with me because she was much taller than me. Maybe because I was totally hairless at the time (and yes, I was petrified) and this made me seem defective to her. Who knows?
I saw her in the hallways and she just kept going. I never saw her much after that. And even if we did pass each other; we walked by one another like strangers to the point where I wonder if she even knew it was me in the make-out room.
Then again, I’m not sure if I was ever looking for her. I don’t think I needed a reminder of my physical insecurities.
My junior high school was not very big but to me, this pace was huge. The halls were long and the walls were tall. Then again, I was little so everything was big to me.
Safe to say that I wished I was taller.
Safe to say that I wished I was smoothe or cooler or suave enough that I could play the role as if I didn’t care.
Safe to say that I wished I was someone who was unmoved and unaffected; no matter what happened.
But no. I was an awkward kid.
I remember rehearsing in the mirror about what I would say to a girl, just in case I’d get the chance again.
I remember planning what I would say and how I would stand or how I would act – but when the sun went down (or so-to-speak) and the lights came on; I froze under pressure and the words just never seemed to leave my mouth the way I wanted them to.
By the way, I drove by Woodland not too long ago. I was with a young child who asked about this place. I explained, “This is where I went to junior high.”
“”That’s a big school,” said the little girl.
Funny thing about this is I was blown away at how absolutely small this place is to me now.
Maybe this is because I’m not so little anymore.
Ah the theory of relativity. This is like our personal levels of awareness.
They take time to understand them