I moved 5 times between the ages of 8 and 16. While some transform this type of peripateticism into an ability to adapt into any situation, I transformed it into a means to feel isolated in any situation.
My first move was from Park Forest South to Flossmoor—2 generic, south-side-Chicago suburbs. The former was lower-middle class, mixed race; the latter middle-to-upper-middle-class, mostly white. This move went okay. I adapted to my 3rd grade class fairly well, making friends easily.
Things went to shit on the 2nd move when my mom couldn’t afford Flossmoor anymore and we returned to Park Forest South 2 years after leaving. There had been a white flight in our absence and I entered the 5th grade 1 of 2 white boys in the whole class. All the friends I had left in 2nd grade dissociated themselves from me. I was beat up daily, ostensibly because of the color of my skin, but surely abetted by my obvious sense of not belonging.
The 3 other moves—to the north side of Chicago for 3 years, then back to Flossmoor for 2 years, then to Boulder, Colorado for another 2—were the same situation in different locales. I would be the new kid. I might make a friend, usually some socially maladaptive kid. That friendship would run its course. And because I was never part of any clique, team or group, I would be isolated again.
Isolation became my default setting. For much of my life, I shirked the need for friends and girlfriends for long stretches, sure people would eventually reject me. It wasn’t until I was well into my 20’s that it occurred to me that I liked and wanted people in my life. Continue reading “Praxis of Evil”