Nerd!: A Childhood Trauma or The Weight of Loneliness

“You’re such a teacher’s pet!

What’s with your hands? Are you retarded or something?”

It’s taken me a long time

to realize just how traumatizing it all was.

That I was ridiculed both for being different and intelligent.

One of these things I couldn’t control.

I wanted so badly to fit in,

to belong to someone, somewhere.

But shaky hands don’t make for polite greetings,

just empty stares for the class nerd.

Having cerebral palsy robbed me of friendship

before I even knew the denotation of that blessed treasure.

No one wanted to be friends with the girl

with avalanches for hands,

who couldn’t hold her juice without spilling it everywhere.

Or, the child who didn’t have the luxury

of passing coded notes to comrades,

amidst snickers and silent giggles

when the teacher’s back was turned,

because she was doomed to sit in the very front of the classroom

so her impaired vision wasn’t another source of ammunition

for the loaded insults they launched daily.

A quiet child with few friends,

hanging onto the skirt tails of loneliness

in a frivolous attempt to put my soul at rest.

It’s taken me too long to see just how traumatic it’s been.

Worn books and dog-eared pages

were my greatest lovers,

but I can’t receive a comforting hug

from The Count of Monte Cristo,

despite my infatuation with Edmund Dantes.

It’s getting past the point of comfort,

this loneliness,

but because it’s familiar, I can’t part with it.

Not yet.

Yet, I think, there’s room for more,

space for someone real and nice and soft.

Someone who won’t be bothered if my hands

revert to avalanches that refuse to keep wine

tethered to its glass, but rather lets it explore boundaries,

and who won’t mind if I read Shakespeare

in the morning and go to bed with Edgar Allan Poe.

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