There are some people who just seem to be at home in the world (this world). They are at ease in their own skins and act like they have been here forever. Here is my theory - These people are either accelerated learners or this is their home planet. And after 65 years of struggling, I now realize that neither is the case for me. In fact, I can prepare a case to prove, once and for all, that this is not my planet.
I have been able to fool most people by concentrating on walking upright, dressing the part (well, sort of), and even being able to drive a car (mostly). But upon closer examination, all sorts of inconsistencies flourish. It’s not on purpose, though, in spite of what Sister Mary Frances Elephant used to say about me, way back in grammar school, “You always have to be different, don’t you?” Not on purpose, Sister – I am different. And believe me, my life would be so much easier if I weren’t.
Where to begin? I have an extra vertebrae, blood pressure of 90 over 40 (which always sets off the alarm bells on the machine, very entertaining), a freak reading speed of 1,187 words per minute with comprehension, an EEG that showed evidence of extreme spikes on the right with almost flatline on the left (high creativity but no logic, very little skill at math, which oftentimes has rendered me as useless as a witch’s tit), winged little toes, and such a poor sense of direction that I have to live on an island.
I am allergic to the atmosphere here. I have had to take allergy shots all my life. Didn’t anyone ever try to investigate this? I also have to wear hypoallergenic makeup. I am too petrified to ever send my DNA out for testing because I might hear a knock at the door and it will be Plum Island, sent to retrieve me. I could be an astonishing roadside attraction, with a big ad in the AAA books, and I should also be immortalized in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and in the Guinness Book of World Records. But as what?
Did I somehow get on the wrong plane, and end up in this f----d up country that I’m not supposed to be in? It wouldn’t surprise me.
For example, I can’t read maps and when I was enrolled at the University of North Texas, we had to study maps of the galaxy. Which could only be read while out on the prairie, lying down on the grass, holding up the maps to the night sky, coyotes howling close by in protest of the freezing cold. And the maps then had to be turned upside down. Upside down! I remember muttering, “Some man must have designed these,” bitterly recalling road trips in which I was always severely castigated for reading the map “wrong.” But see, to a person/entity/creature/being/organism/presence/animal/beast/personage or something that would, at first glance, pass as a human, well, a map, a fulcrum of logic, would always appear to be something new and frightening each time it surfaced. And if I cannot find my way around a town, how am I supposed to navigate the Milky Way galaxy?
I think that on my planet, hair colors are vibrant, animated, and electrifying: not limited to simply matching one’s skin tone; all of my planet’s denizens are probably chromatophiliacs. Or perhaps our hair changes color to match our moods. Maybe we are supposed to look like good luck trolls. Rub our hair and good fortune will smile upon you. In any case, I could have been sent here as some sort of social experiment, the goal of which is to see if “we” can be mainstreamed. I am just not made for this world, but I have learned to adapt. What helps me live here is a belief in magical realism. A man living by the side of the road could be a magician who happened to run afoul of a bad-tempered witch; she put a spell on him that took away his powers for two hundred years. He doesn’t belong here either, but I try to help him acclimate, too. So no, Sister Mary Frances Elephant, I wish I could take credit for being “different.” But you’ll have to take this subject up with the mother ship when it finally shows up to claim me.