Thursday, 5 January 2012

About Me, Part 10: Here Comes the Rain Again

Towards the end of February 1984, with my mother fully recovered, her and I went back to Mississauga; my grandmother stayed with us for a week as we settled back down. I started school again in early March. What struck me after a few days back at class was how different things seemed. The bullying had stopped. Although many were still standoffish around me, others were actually friendly. I got an interesting bit of peer advice not long afterwards ... if I wanted to be accepted, I needed to be like everybody else. Simple. In fact, for a little while, I had been trying to be just that. At the time, the music, the fashions, the way of speaking were all things I was desperately trying to imitate. Looking back, I think I did a fairly good job.

The fact was, two different groups wanted me to be "like everybody else": my folks and my peers. I scarcely had a concept of myself otherwise. I fully expected things to get much better as a result. The rest of the year went very quickly. Our teacher went on medical leave and we had a substitute for the last month or so. Then, grade eight, and middle school, was finished. Graduating felt like a massive accomplishment; I had discovered that I could throw myself into my work easily to get away from the messier problems in life ... and excel at it.

I spent that summer back in Montreal, went on my first date, and felt like things were looking up. Towards the end of the summer, I had my curly hair relaxed into the Michael Jackson/Prince style that was popular that year. I remember a vague sense of satisfaction looking in the mirror to see myself with long hair. But my voice was also changing. By that fall, when I entered high school, my voice had deepened considerably. It was novel at first, but I grew to hate it. It just never seemed to match who was. But as cut off as I was from myself, I had no idea why.

To be continued ...

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