Saturday, May 16, 2015

teenage weirdo

Remember how bad it used to be? How you felt like the weird one: the dork, unpopular, ugly, stupid. Those teen years: high school.

A morning radio show, question of the day: What made you the weird one in high school? So many calls. All these average, self-deprecating, ironic, insightful, now fine people shared their traumas. "I wore thick glasses." "My mom made me wear purple pants." "I had a horrible haircut." "My dad was a pathologist." "I was short, tall, lonely, poor, glasses, weird clothes, weird haircut..." on and on. Everyone had a story.

I listened and thought: Well, that's not so bad. Glasses? You suffered from glasses? Now I was weird. I was shy and read thick books at recess: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes. Sometimes I read during class too, and got into trouble. I wore odd hand-me-down clothes. That's suffering.

Or is it?

I listened to the people on the radio as they told their stories. Their stories sounded like nothing, just amusing anecdotes, but I remembered how it felt, to be a teen, in high school. It was horrible, excruciating, torturous. I was desperately unhappy then; wanted to run away, escape, die. I suffered.

But really, what was so bad? And what would have made it better?

Maybe Sherlock Holmes got me through it. He was a loner too. He used his intellect to make order from chaos and tragedy. How nice to sit by the fire at Baker St with Dr. Watson, and have Mrs. Hudson bring tea as we discussed the latest puzzle. And life lessons from Anna Karenina: things not to do. What's better: money, safety, comfort, and boredom or wild crazy love which ruins you both in the end? I escaped into books, somehow survived, discovered the good bits, life got better.

Still a dork, still escape into books; but now fine.