It wasn't like I was an outcast I was more of a ghost, not a lonely ghost drifting through the void but a happy ghost with a whole array of ghost friends. Somehow all the kids who never had friends in elementary and only desperately clinged to three people in junior high all ran into each other in high school. An amalgamation of tiny little groups that offered camouflage for those of us who did not wish to be entangled in the affairs of the upper ranks of adolescent society. We were only ever together for as long the least patient and most introverted in our midst could handle, as to avoid arguments and fatigue. For the most part I was that limit, the one who would always withdraw first, the one who spent the most time quite, the most time listening.
I took on the role of watcher and observer not because I had nothing to input but because the weight of the world was always on the tip of my tongue. This led to delayed responses that would've been well received had I voiced them forty minutes prior in the conversation. Outside of the group setting however, is where I truly shined, in one on one conversations I became an extrovert gaining more and more momentum and energy the more I talked. A talent of mine that although praised in my youth was ultimately the reason why it was so hard for me to find people willing to talk to me in high school.
It's interesting how these things happen, it's almost as if that tumultuous period of our lives we call puberty, which occurs in that hellish place we call junior high, snatches us from the real world and sends us straight to the upside down world of adulting. All those high expectations and praises from childhood suddenly become invalid and not half as impressive as they used to be.
Nevertheless I would say that I am one of the few who maintained some trace of their younger selves during the journey through the valley. This trace survived in the form of art. From a young age drawing has been my preferred form of escapism and to this day the best place to look for me is the nearby playground.
It probably started in grade five when my parents finally let me go to the playground on my own. On the days where the playground was full I would sit down on a little hill with my sketchbook and pencil and draw the commotion. How does one draw a constantly changing picture? You might ask. Well the simple answer is you don’t. Instead, for every moment I would pick out the individual that most intrigued me and draw them. By supper time I always had a collage of people having fun, living life, an image that would bring a smile to anyone's face.
Although the captured moments were fun my favourite days were the ones when I got a little older and could go back outside after supper time. Those were the special evenings when with sketchbook and pencil in hand I would climb on top of the monkey bars and draw the serene scene. Instead of drawing real people doing real things, these occasions called for the friendly five, my imaginary friends who were a comfort at a young age and my fountain of creativity in the awkward phases of life. To this day, they are still with me but I am happy to say that real people - my closest friends - have filled the five rolls better than my creativity ever could.
Some days I wonder how I’ll ever describe to someone else, how it feels when the last rays of sunlight surround you and embrace you, with a warmth that makes you forget that for the fifth week in a row you sat alone at lunch. Or the gentle wind that lifts not only your hair and your pages but also your soul, and convinces you that there is a bright future ahead. That one day not so far away you will be the hero and not the victim. Or the rustling leaves that provide the rhythm to the bird songs, that speak of lands far away and spur you to act as if no one else on the face of the planet is as free as you. Then rising from his throne room the prince, the earth’s most beloved child, a friend of thinkers and a companion of misfits: the moon glitters in anticipation of your accomplishments.
Summer has always been my favourite, not because of the lack of school, but because it meant I could spend countless hours in the silver light which not only illuminated the world in a new way, but my mind as well. Like many hopeless creatives I inherited the night owl curse, and so beautiful summer nights entrust in me the powers and abilities of great artists such as Van Gogh.
When I entered high school, to the disappointment of my junior high art teacher and to a sigh of relief from my parents, I chose to not take art class. Hoping to start a new chapter in my life, one where I no longer needed the protection of the three musketeers, I stopped going to the park and instead stayed in my room painting with Bob Ross. This mistake was mainly based on my anxiety formed misconceptions of high school, but in the end the mistake ended up being beneficial in the long run although that did not make it any less painful in the present. Lesson number one was that I should stay away from numbers as much as possible as I crashed out of advance Math faster than anyone else. Lesson number two was that depriving myself of what I love just to be “cool” is not an optimal way to live.