I’ve always felt like I’m lingering on the outside of things, as if I’m more the observer than the participant.
Somewhere along the path of childhood, I decided the other kids had a secret language, one I could not understand. They were included in a club in which I had no place.
I was at Sacred Heart in first grade when my mom brought me an elaborate packed lunch. She was angry because she found me hiding in the coat closet. Early that morning she told me not to get near the other kids’ “dirty” coats because they had lice. Coats were all around me. For whatever reason, I simply did not care about lice.
I liked hiding among the coats in the closet. It was dark. No one could see me. No one could laugh at me. No one could bother me.
I listened to excited kid voices muffled by heavy winter coats. I vaguely recall the other first graders in my class. I don’t remember interacting with them.
I was a stubborn child. Teachers often called me “independent.” I didn’t understand the easy laughter of these children, the way they naturally played amongst themselves.
I’d try to blend in with them, but they’d ignore me. I’d get mad. Other little girls were especially mysterious because the contact I did have with children was limited to the boys I played with in our neighborhood. My only school friend was Danny who lived down the street. We were often in trouble together in school. We liked to break the rules.
The few female children in my neighborhood were not allowed to play with me. I was a bad influence. I did not have the self-esteem or the social skills to interact.
I understood adult anger far easier than I understood how to play well with others.