I never was the type who tried to fit in. As a matter of fact, when I was in high school, I was the person who sat in a corner at the cafeteria because I was happy minding my own business and doing my own thing while the cliques abound. No one called me a nerd or poked fun at me. However, I think I may have purposely isolated myself because I was a recent transplant to this country just months before I started high school and at the time, I was only getting used to the new atmosphere. I didn’t have a heavy Asian accent and most people didn’t believe me when I told them I had just moved to the country. It was quite funny actually when I was telling the truth and they thought I was lying. It was almost as if they knew more about me than what I knew of myself.
There was this girl who had the need to fit in. She would try going about sitting with those people and they ended up shooing her away. She got the reputation of being the most annoying girl in school. I cherished the liberty of not having to converse with anyone but simply listen to my Walkman in peace, but I couldn’t possibly add to the rejection she was already getting from the rest of our peers. She ended up sitting with me most of the time simply because I was the only person who didn’t make her go away. She considers me her friend even to this day.
I did ask her what the deal was because I never truly understood but I suppose it was her desire to feel accepted. I can’t quite relate since I grew up practically a loner and was pretty content being that. People would come and sit by me and if they wanted to talk, I’d engage but my natural inclination was to be alone. I grew up with 3 siblings, (and out of all, I was the black sheep, maybe more on this in another post perhaps?) but I did things mostly by myself cutting up my mother’s Reader’s Digests for collages and fishing.
I never saw the need to belong to a group although apart from school, I belonged to an ageless group of people who held a common love for being on wheels. This group was different from what was at school. It was one devoid of judgments based on one’s appearance, popularity or whatever. It was awesome. I remember going with this group on a trip to Boston to compete in Slalom Skating. We used to set up the course on the slight slope on Central park around Tavern on the Green every weekend and almost every day at the bandshell and everyone just had fun. If I could beam myself back to a specific time, it would probably be that time.
My grades were okay for the first couple of years. One thing I didn’t like was feeling like I was asked hard questions during discussions as if my teacher expected I could give him a great answer and I gotta say I was pretty dumb. I did try but I can’t say I liked expounding on what I thought. I used to think okay great, why does he have to pick me? Why couldn’t he have picked that guy over there to give his opinion? There’s this stereotype that Asians are smart. I think I’m pretty much an exception to that. I’m just average and that doesn’t bother me really. Another funny thing was I hated writing research papers and book reports which is kind of ironic because now, I receive free books to write reviews, a far cry from how I used to think.
Cutting classes became a normal thing just to wander around the city and I’d buy cheap lager beer in a brown paper bag in the middle of a school day somewhere secluded by Lincoln Center. I did it alone and sometimes, someone would join me. My absences really took a beating on most of my report card, but at least I didn’t have parents who threatened to disown me whenever I came home with unsatisfactory grades. I would show up in school and this girl who happened to graduate as the school valedictorian wondered why I still got a better grade in AP French than her when all I did was show up during test days. I love languages and I can say that was probably the only reason that kept me in school. I loved learning but my desire was to be outside. I reaped the consequences of my actions however, went to summer and night school which truly sucked because who in the world would want to go to school at night but like I said, I was dumb I gallivanted during the day but looking back, I don’t regret it. I made up a couple of credits I lacked to merit my diploma and that was that.
Going to college was far from my mind so I started doing temp jobs. They were just short gigs which spanned only months. This right here is the time when everything went haywire in my life. I broke nearly all 10 commandments, was vain, self-centered, and my main fear was dying because of a life threatening STD which I feared I would contract had I kept on living life in reckless abandon. It was both fun and miserable at the same time which was really quite confusing.
Then I became a freelance e-commerce web developer for a gay optician who happened to give me martinis and some other pharmaceuticals while I was working on the website from 99-01. There weren’t insta websites with templates at that time and people actually had to design and code from scratch and that was what I did. It didn’t even feel like work. The sucky thing was most of what I earned went to the Sprint PCS cell phone bill. They didn’t happen to have the flat monthly rates at the time so due to the talk time overages, the bill just kept mounting. Because of that, I steer away from contract phones even to this day.
One of the things I hated the most (apart from getting injected with a big needle in my backbone for an epidural-the second time around, the anesthesiologist made a mistake, had to reinject me with that humongous thing he could have paralyzed me! My husband saw he looked quite nervous too) was having to hug the toilet bowl during a nasty hangover. I remember hanging out with a bunch of ravers somewhere on 70 something St. between Broadway and West End Ave. and I passed out in the bathroom waking up to loud knocks on the door. Luckily, the door was locked and I was inside. I didn’t know those people too well except for the owner of the apartment. He warned me not to take something I haven’t taken before and am I glad I heeded his advice. Had I not, I probably would have died that same day. I truly believe that.
I could keep writing but I think I should maybe save it for another day. Let me just fast forward and clue you in to what I am like at this moment.
A Woman Resigned To The Facts Of Life
A friend of mine looked at the gray hairs on my head and she was itching to pluck them simply because she personally has trouble coming to grips with the fact of aging and she was displacing her issue on me at the sight of my gray hairs! I told her, “I appreciate my gray sparkles, Thank You very much,” something she considered unsightly. She happens to be older than I am and she constantly has to dye her hair to cover her grays. I say if it makes her happy to do that, whatever, but if it’s because she’s in denial about aging and this seems to be the case, it’s pretty miserable. I just let mine grow and wait for my entire head to go gray. Who cares?
When I used to live in the city, I never walked out of the house without make-up on. Now, I can walk out of the house without having to paint my face and it is quite liberating not being overly conscious about how people thought of my appearance. Why care about what strangers whom I probably will never see again think of how I look? I don’t cake and cover up the heavy freckles on my face à la Lucy Liu’s. It’s usually not common for Asians to have freckles but I have a lot of them and the older I get, more pops up. I have come to embrace them.
Touching on something more emotional, I may have gone through my momentary phase but one thing that puts me at ease is my mother coming to grips that I’m not the same black sheep who caused her vexations day and night and months on end. I wish my dad could have met my husband and my daughter. He passed away without ever getting to meet them.
Above all, I try not to forget that God loves me! And He loves you too sans make-up and all. Now isn’t that something to truly smile about?