I grew up in a fair sized family; my mom, two brothers, and a sister. We got along ok I guess. My older brother and I were best friends for the longest time and my younger brother and sister and I managed to keep the bickering to a minimum. We were very poor growing up and I really believe that made us closer. I mean we had to rely on each other for a lot of things, sure, but hope… hope was the biggest. We fed each other hope and it kept us sane and together. But you know as close as we were, I never really felt like I belonged in this family. I know, I know, what a horrible thing to say right? But I didn’t. I’ve just always been different then the rest of them. I used to fantasize all the time about one day finding my real family or maybe one day them finding me… finding out that I was really the son of some well-to-do somebody or even just a long lost son of some other family… a family more like me.
I didn’t have many friends early on in school. Smart kids are rarely popular at that age and, aside from that, I was always in some special class for brains or somewhere being tested. My mom decided to bus my younger brother and I about 45 min out of town for school after I finished second grade. I was in a pretty unique situation in that place particularly compared to my classmates. The school was full of middle class white children for the most part and… well I was decidedly not so – lol. The real problem though was that I didn’t live in town with the kids I went to school with, dig it? So I mean I couldn’t hang out with my friends after school or anything like that. You know I really had two groups of friends; my schoolmates and my homeboys… which didn’t matter all that much in elementary school since I hadn’t been making that many friends anyway. It did begin to matter in middle school when I really started making lots of friends. I couldn’t go to birthday parties or sleepovers most of the time. No pick up
games of anything… not with my schoolmates. And things were off in another way too. Kids in school were intimidated because I was black and from the inner city and I was too much of a white boy for the guys at home. I never really made any solid friendships then. I remember feeling scared most of the time. Scared mostly that I’d never fit in on either side ever. I never felt like I could tell any one because, so far as I believed, they could never understand what it was like. So I kept quiet and stayed lonely.
In high school and college I started making real friends but by then I’d already be convinced that I was destined to be an outsider. I made friendly-like with many people and even made a few close friends. In the end, though, I ran into the exact same problem. I still felt disconnected. There was something of myself that I desperately wanted to share. And every single time I tried, things got botched. I made a mess of it. Or they didn’t get it. Or both. No matter what type of relationship I had with them. I used to think that people who hid themselves away from other people [emotionally or otherwise] were weak and/or insecure. Bitch to find out that I’m totally one of them.
That’s where my loneliness comes from. Secret secrets.
I can honestly say that I haven’t ever really shared the real me for more than a few moments. Every single time I have, I’ve paid for it – mostly with guilt. After spilling my guts, I feel overwhelmingly selfish for days. So I’ve stopped. Now, in the latter part of my youth, I’m finding myself desperately seeking intimate connections with people. And it’s selfish. I want to believe that there’s more to knowing people than the posturing that we do. I’ve found that most other people really want to share themselves in the same way that I do and, if I just listen, they’re more than willing to do so. Somehow that’s just made me feel a bit more lonely. Maybe I’m just a jealous asshole – lol.
I haven’t met anyone who’s as interested in getting to know me as I am interested in getting to know them. And I don’t blame them. It makes me feel … creepy to have that much of an interest in other people. Not in their personal lives, dig, but who they really are. I’ve been thinking lately that I do it so that people will trust me. So that maybe start to get more curious about me. [Shrug]
I’ve always had friends but no one’s ever known me. The difference between me and this growing group of “I can never be known” mystery kids is that I really want to be known. Heh – and the only thing that’s stopping me is me, right?
[Inspired by "A Room Nearby" – PBS.org]