Monday, November 25, 2013
I'm 55. But I can look back over my life and see a pattern of quirkiness. My earliest years (1959-1964) were spent in Japan as the daughter of missionaries. My hair was so blonde that is was almost white. I stood out!!! It was not uncommon for Japanese people to touch my hair and exclaim about how soft it was and what an interesting color. I'm quite sure that I absorbed the message that I did not belong! I was quirky.
My personality was beginning to form during this time. My parents tell me that I had an astonishing level of energy, unlike anything they had seen with their first three children. I would never stop moving all day long and would resist bedtime until finally I would simply collapse from exhaustion wherever I happened to be. I was also an entertainer. A recording of me telling the Goldenlocks story is now lost, but was a hilarious insight into my 4 year old personality. You can hear my oldest sister, 8 years my senior, attempting to guide me through the telling. I keep saying "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" in a very dramatic way, making it very clear that it is ME telling this story!!!
First grade found the family in Massachusetts, where my extremely poor English made me an easy target for the cruelties of children. I spoke Japanese fluently, but avoided saying anything because that only led to misery. There was no winning. I was the outsider and would be for all of our four years there.
But if I thought that was bad, I was totally unprepared for the next move to Georgia. My English was fine by then, but any Southern person can tell you that kids how move there from Massachusetts have a whole different set of challenges to face! The Boston accent! The lack of familial connection to anyone there! The inability to identify a hushpuppy! It was murder.
When you're on the outside looking in, the only people who embrace you are other people who are on the outside looking in. So it's no surprise that both in Massachusetts and in Georgia, my circle of friends included other misfits. We were ALL quirky! And together, we helped each other feel normal.
Georgia was my home from 5th grade through 9th grade. In 1973, we moved again to North Carolina. Again, I found myself on the outside looking in. But it was easier. I was learning to ignore people who didn't like me. Instead, I adopted an "I don't care" attitude and used my energy to identify people who DID like me! I graduated high school with a handful of high school friends and a wider circle of friends who were older.
College was easier. There were lots of quirky people there! We formed "The Family", with pseudo-marital and familial relationships that created a complex family tree. But we all loved each other, quirkiness and all!