Born To Run
October 18, 2009
When I was growing up, I suppose my parents
yelled all the same things at me that other parents do: "Eat your carrots!" "Do
your homework!" "Turn down the music!" But the only one I recall being
repeated with both frequency and increasing exasperation was "Why do you always
have to be different?"
Two things about that. One: I wasnít
actively trying to be different. In fact, for much of my early life, I
was desperate to fit in.† It just wasnít going to happen.† I wasnít doing it to
annoy anyone:† I was just being me.† And two:† why was being different such an
I was aware from very early on that I was
not like the other girls.† My illness made me alien.† Being constantly hauled
out of school and stuck in hospital, not being able (and later, not being allowed)
to hang out with my peers or do the things that other kids my age were getting
up to - these things set me apart.
But so did many of my experiences. Itís not
such a bad thing.
I learned to live in my head a lot,
especially when I was in hospital.† I rarely got to the point where Iíd be so
divorced from my own body that I could be present at some particularly humiliating/grueling/painful
test or procedure merely as a spectator, but sometimes I did.† When it got too
hard I did. Most of the time the drugs took care of that, but when they didnít
I made the effort to stay present and connected with what was going on - I
instinctively knew that some things (even back then) deserved to be remembered
by my whole self, even when that memory was stored distorted by drugs or
circumstance, by an incomplete understanding.† Though I couldnít quite say why.
††It just felt important.† †
I had more or less accepted the fact that I
was different by the time I was 14. †At first, I resented it.† Then I renounced
it and for what seemed like the longest time (but was probably only about 8
months), I laughed when everyone else did, I pretended an awareness of things I
had no clue of, concealed knowledge of things I knew I could never speak of.†
Then it was back into the hospital with me and by the time Iíd emerged, everyone
else had become young ladies.
And I still felt like a freak.
So I embraced it.† I gothed out big time
and I have to say, I certainly have the complexion for it.† Obviously, thereís
only so much you can get away with under the beady eyes of the Faithful
Companions of Jesus, but even if theyíd roast you alive for putting a safety
pin through your ear, out of their hearing you could still become cool if you
were blasphemous.† Itís the Catholic girlís version of being dangerous and
Itís a habit I have yet to break.† But now
itís just fun.† Nothingís sacred - I put it all out there.
I wore my difference like a badge:† I
flaunted it.† I dared people to make it an issue.
These days, Iíve come to accept it. Itís
nothing deliberate: itís just the way Iím made.† I donít have any particular
problem with it, but there are many who do.
My friends roll their eyes a lot and have,
to a woman, become rather proficient butterfly net wranglers, but they know
that thereís really no harm in me.† Iím the fun kind of lunatic (most of the
time), not the eee-eee-eee scratchy violin music type.† I make them
laugh.† Theyíd all prefer that I get out of the house more but God love Ďem,
with the exception of Christine, theyíve all stopped asking me when Iím going
to get a boyfriend.† Natalie still calls me a Flagellant but she stopped
calling me a recluse some time ago - thatís just sort of taken as read.
I like being alone.† I cannot settle.† Iím
either running from something or in search of something, but itís probably a
combination of the two.† Iím not so much of a lone wolf as a stray cat. †Time
has made me realize that some people are uncomfortable in the† mainstream.† We
sing off key, we donít get the jokes, what we see is not what is so evident to
everyone else.† To me, the brass ring of the picket fence and the same body in
my bed for forty years holds no appeal.† I appreciate its allure for others,
but it has no power to seduce me.† Iím too restless, the urge to wander and to
be apart is so encoded in my DNA that someone elseís suburban dream represents
only captivity to me.
I am awkward with the conventional.† I donít
understand the construct.† Being different is not simply a way of rebelling
against conformity:† itís the way I fit into the world.† Itís the covenant that
life has made with me. The price I pay for being here and the reward for it as
Iíll never have the family picnics and the
great anticipatory build up to Christmas, the shared traditions, the same
stories told annually by the same relatives twice removed.† I donít find
comfort in the unceasing sameness and predictability that spells safety and
contentment for many of my friends.
Instead I get to stay up, awake inside the
breathing of the night. I write, I sing, I read poetry and particle physics and
law, I slip into the skin of otherís realities, I let my neural pathways take
me where they will.† I dance around in the wee hours in my underwear, waltzing
the cranky, protesting cats around the place, I laugh uncontrollably at
something Iíve written. †I lose myself in music.† I cry if I want to.† I imagine
that all things are still possible, that eventually life redeems all hurts.
I get words and music and imagination.
I wouldnít have it any other way.
Till next time,