And I’m the funniest person I know. That should tell you something. That should tell me something, but it hasn’t. Mine is not an examined life; I don’t look too closely. Not because of any dark, sinister pathology, but because it doesn’t occur to me. My mind is busy with other things. Fun things, compelling things. Okay, nonsense, mostly.
I came close to self-examination once, in my early 30’s, but it was short-lived. I went to a therapist for help sorting through a personal mess, decided the guy was a dope, and quit going after five weeks. He doggedly insisted my difficulties stemmed from my parents’ divorce; said I needed to go back and forgive the 13-year old I’d then been. Huh? My parents calling it quits was a non-event, if anything it was a relief. I’d barely noticed a difference.
And so here I am, long years later, still oblivious, still stumbling through a shambolic world. But my normally quiet landscape is shifting and it’s scary. In the last few months, I’ve been beset with personal insights and unwelcome epiphanies of all types, from all directions. I’ll be thinking about pirates or socks when I’m assaulted by a personal revelation. You think you know yourself, right? Well, heh, don’t count on it.
When I try to frame a thought in conversation, I’ll get swept away in an undertow of emotions and wind up floundering, visibly struggling to hold myself together. Some people, albeit mercifully few, can drop me with a look or a word, a gesture or a touch — they’re my kryptonite. My heart swells, tears brim, and I’m terrified a sob is going to burst forth, so I panic and close up tight. It’s mortifying.
Earlier this summer, I was gobsmacked by a stunning epiphany: I’m Boo Radley (from To Kill a Mockingbird). That was a jaw-dropper, but now it seems like a glaring truth. See, I’d imagined myself as Super Girl or Wonder Woman, someone powerful and invincible and fearless. Boo Radley was never on the radar. Which proves what an absolutely top-notch whiz I am at self-deception.
How could I miss that? I have all the earmarks: I’m awkward, I’m reclusive, make no effort to fit in, have the emotional I.Q. of a melon, and I hide things, little tokens, for people to find — just not in tree trunks. The one stark difference is, I’ve never stabbed anyone — not with scissors and not with a kitchen knife. I’ve impaled a few with a pretty sharpish look, though.
After the shock wore off, I remembered an unresolved and ongoing disagreement with a friend of mine over what film deserves Best Movie Ever status. He went with The Wizard of Oz — a notable choice — but I held out for To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve seen it probably 50 times, read the book a dozen, and each time I’m engulfed with a deep, abiding homesickness. The fact I’m at home provides no mitigation whatsoever; something basic and ineffable is missing. I’ve no idea what.
Do you know where I found hope and solace? In the wise and immortal words of Whitesnake:
I am, and will always be, the girl hiding in the corner. I’ve come to accept my fate. I don’t necessarily embrace it, but I’m fine with it nonetheless.
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