Chapter VII: The Prairie
Something you don't realize you've longed for until you see someone with them firmly planted, running deep.
Moving schools frequently throughout my childhood, I was always the new kid, and never anyone's best friend. Hindsight is 20/20 and being the new kid is in part the reason my strong sense of humor developed and I've grown comfortable being alone. So like most odd things from my childhood, I now recognize it as a blessing instead of a curse.
The added struggles of usually being the only Jewish kid in any given school, and having such an outspoken mother typically meant that the majority of my 'friends' where only around long enough to see one of my mother's iconic outbursts, beyond that, they often wouldn't be allowed over again. On rare occasion, if a peer found me intriguing enough to keep coming around even after seeing the insanity I was living with as soon as my mom would find something she disliked about them, they were gone.
"Well, her mother is a republican, and I just don't want you around those kinds of people." She would say.
"They live in a trailer for goodness sake and eat off of food stamps. No, they cannot come over." Her utterances then seemed so normal as this was her disposition. Her lack of empathy for others, innate.
We had wealth, we belonged only with others who had exactly the same and dotted every single i and crossed every single t meeting her most delusional expectations of what the wealthy should live like. As I was shifting from schools year to year I was consistently going to private schools with theological influences always, and despite often steep tuition costs, most of the schools I attended thanks to scholarship opportunities had a population that consisted of students from just about every income bracket. I was fortunate enough to get glimpses of the real world and started to realize that I wasn't actually living a normal childhood.
These factors made building friendships, as well as developing my personality nearly impossible. Awkward, obnoxious, attention seeking. Guhhh, I was a mess of a child, and to be honest, it really wasn't much of a childhood at all. Discovering at a young age that those obnoxious and attention seeking behaviors I engaged in often entertained adults and made them laugh I believed I'd found my niche.
I could just, act like an adult.
Tell jokes like an adult.
Try to have the comedic timing of an adult.
Fuck it, my Mom is crazy, my teachers are sick of me and I have no friends, why not?
One day, while one of my parents were out buying hot dogs and seven hundred thousand rolls of toilet paper, I stole a joint, as had become the usual when either of them ran errands, and I sat down on the lanai, feet in the pool, thinking about life.
What if, I contemplated...what if, the next time mom gets mad about the color of shirt my teacher is wearing at PTA and sees it as a microagression and moves me to another school....what if, instead of trying to fit in...what if I try to take charge? What if I just go ahead and grow up?
I was twelve. I'd hit puberty. I looked like a grown up. Why not? Being a child isn't getting me anywhere.
Not long after that smoke sess, Mom picked me up from school and when we arrived home Dad was waiting in the kitchen.
It was the middle of the week. He should have been on an airplane on the other side of the globe.
"Alright, what school are you moving me to now and what God do I need to pretend to pray to this time?" I asked presuming I knew the events that were about to befall me.
The both smiled at each other realizing I didn't know what was about to happen.
"Well, you're going to public school, so no more pretending about God." Dad explained.
Confused as all fucking get out, I stammered to form words to ask questions before my Dad could offer another response.
"We're moving to St. Louis. I move tomorrow, you and your mother move in six weeks once we've closed on this house and the new house there."
The air of Deja Vu faded and this time I wasn't angry. This time, I had a plan. I would go in and take charge. I would command every room I entered with my humor and intellect. I started to smile.
"....And we're going to stay there so you'll remain enrolled in the same district until you go to college, then you'll be able to decide where in this country you would like to live." My Mom added.
For years I'd watched my peers interact with each other in healthy symbiotic friendships they'd held with one another since kindergarten. Too much time had passed in my childhood and I would never have those types of bonds, but that didn't mean that I didn't have a chance. I could finally have friends and feel something similar to what I'd seen my peers feel.
Finally, I could put down roots, and in of all places, the prairie.
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