Yesterday as I walked back to the house I board at with my friend (and housemate), I was overcome with a feeling of “hey, look at me! I have friends!” Okay, yes, that sounds really, really sad. This is certainly not the first time I’ve had friends in my eighteen years of existence. I’ve had plenty of friends in lots of different levels of friendship, from “frenemy” to BFF.
Nevertheless, for a number of reasons, I’ve always felt a little different — you know, just like everyone else supposedly does. Never really felt like I quite fit in. Always felt a bit like an in-betweener — not quite a total loser who ate lunch by herself in the library, not quite sitting with the popular kids (or the type who even wanted to).
But this year, everything changed. I guess that’s what happens when you do a gap year program at a weird (i.e. awesome), little art school with seventeen other artsy girls. No one really fits a mould, so somehow we all fit in to our not-fitting-in.
I was discussing this with my friend while we walked home, and I was explaining my previous friendless, lonely life. To clarify that it wasn’t quite as sad as I had initially made it seem with my melodrama and hyperbole, I told her about one of my “cherished childhood memories”. This story probably just made it worse.
I was four or five and it was playtime at kindergarten. Everyone else was either playing well with others or quietly occupying themselves with the abundance of toys we had on hand. I was playing with some form of connect-y toys probably something like Tinker Toys. With these not-excessively-girly toys, I attached some of the long stick-ular items together and — ta da! — I made myself a magic wand.
It was made out of boring stick-y things; I was probably wearing green sweat pants. But in my imagination (which was so fully functioning that this is how I see myself in this memory) I was wearing a flow-y, flounce-y, tulle-y pink fairy dress and on my head I had one of those cone-shaped princess hats with the piece of tulle or whatever waving in the wind. My wand was, of course, also pink and had one of these flow-y things protruding from the top. It obviously shed fairy dust whenever I waved it. I led (lead) a very rich fantasy life.
I was (am) very kindhearted and didn’t want to keep my newfound magical powers to myself. I wanted to share my fun with everyone! So, I began skipping my way around the room, telling my peers that I was a magical fairy, asking them what they wanted me to turn them into and tapping them on the heads with my ‘magic wand’. If I recall correctly, I genuinely believed that they would love my game. I imagined they’d oblige me to the point that they’d tell me what they wanted to be turned into and, when I tapped their heads with my wand to grant them their wishes, they’d act like the magical creature they had wanted to be.
My bubble was popped pretty quickly. Most kids just ignored me, some got annoyed and shooed me away, and one kid got so irritated that I got told on and our teacher had to intervene and make me stop. This was heartbreaking for me.
Hmmm… It actually makes a lot of sense that I’d fit right in at art school. My game pretty closely reflects one of the ‘improv exercises’ we do in my theatre class. After all those years of ‘repressing my creativity’ to avoid being ridiculed, it’s pretty nice to come to a place where my own personal brand of insanity just adds to the fun.
I love going to a school where my friends and I randomly burst into song throughout the day, play theatre games where we “let the walls feel us” (for real. This is a ‘legitimate’ exercise.) and sit in class fighting over toy cars borrowed from our principal/teacher’s four-year-old. I’m also taking some creative writing classes and am working on an awesome screenplay. It’s about a math teacher who never really understood me. Go figure.
Oh yeah — and I may finally get a check mark on my report card in the box for “plays well with others”. You know, if I wasn’t eighteen and such a box still existed for me.