Belonging

This is a post is in praise of all the weirdoes out there. No, I’m not talking about the criminals and miscreants that harm other human beings. I’m talking about the freaks, the quirky folks, and the misfits – the ones who can’t help but go against the flow. It is a group to which I proudly belong. I admit that fact freely, and I’ll add that I’ve always been drawn to people even stranger than me. In turn, I also seem to attract those souls, as well. I admit to my own quirkiness, but I admire those rare individuals who seem to take uniqueness to another level in the most glorious, spectacular way. Most of these people wind up in the entertainment industry, of course. Their light is so bright, how could they not? There are, however, a few schlepping about amongst us. For instance, any trip to your local Earthfare, Whole Foods, or any health food store will undoubtedly bring you into contact with at least one. I’m a regular shopper at my local Earthfare, and it was at this store that I happen to strike up a conversation with such an individual. He was a guy about my age, wearing a kilt and a Dr. Who tee, sporting multiple facial piercings and tattoos, and having a beard long enough to get caught in a zipper – a PANTS zipper, mind you –which was neatly pulled into two braids. He initiated the conversation by commenting on the Red Hot Chili Peppers tee I was wearing. I, in turn, commented on his Dr. Who shirt. I then proudly produced my Dr. Who Tardis key chain, and it was an instant nerd connection. The really strange part was when the fact came up that we’d BOTH had a crush on Dr. Who numero cuatro at one point in our lives. Unfortunately, things got a little too weird for me when it began to seem like he was coming on to me and implying the prospect of wanting me and mine to “join” him and his in a less than casual way. I ended the interaction in my normal, awkward, misfit way – “Uh, well, gotta go.” Being a weirdo/social retard (WINCE! please forgive the slur) himself, he understood the subtext. I still see him when I shop there, and it’s not weird. That’s the nice thing about people like us. We’re all, like, “Namaste, yo.” – no judgment.

So, it’s clear, I am a huge proponent of letting your freak flag fly. In my opinion, embracing our uniqueness demonstrates gratitude to the creator that made each of us one of a kind. Conforming and fitting in was never my cup of tea, mostly because it simply didn’t work for me, even when I tried. I was the proverbial “square peg” trying to fit into a “round hole.” Getting over that was difficult, especially in my adolescence. I was a nerdy, overweight sixteen year-old girl that had an all-consuming love of “everything British” and was convinced that one day I’d be Tony Geary’s (Luke on General Hospital – who didn’t look much different than he does today) or Tom Baker’s (Dr. Who number four – the one with the shock of unruly curls and an enormous mouthful of teeth) wife. Yeah, there was NO “fitting in” with all that going on. It reminds me of some song lyrics (as usual) by Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), “Justine never knew the rules – hung down with the freaks and ghouls.” That was me.

I’m not sure if I passed on my weirdness to my children inadvertently or on purpose. If I did it on purpose, it certainly was never planned. It just happened. I remember my youngest daughter’s first little girl crush. It was on Big Boy. Yes, you heard right. She had a crush on a chain restaurant’s cartoon mascot. Later, the object of her admiration was a little more main stream. At about the age of seven, she had a crush on Steve Martin. Yes, my little girl was in love with a gray-haired, middle-aged actor. I swear to you, we watched Father of the Bride about a million times during that phase. It was then that I knew my child was, like me, the rare and special kind who finds beauty in places and things that go unnoticed by most others.

Every year, in my first grade classroom, one or two of those rare little birds come to me, and I welcome them with open arms. I work hard to make my classroom say, “This is a safe place – a place where you can be uniquely you…and be loved for it.” I have a poster in my room that has a photo of an adorable Chihuahua wearing thick glasses. The phrase, “Acceptance is seeing with your heart instead of your eyes,” appears below the photo. This is not just a trite little “uplifting” sentiment. I strive to create an atmosphere of acceptance for all. Ugh! More song lyrics are haunting me now! “I’m a freak. I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doin’ here? I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here,” (from Radiohead’s Creep). That’s the way I’ve felt in the majority of circumstances, in the majority of settings in my life. I’ve tried to make a point, of helping those fellow freaks, ghouls, and weirdoes feel accepted and loved and like they belong. Aaah! More song lyrics popping into my head! “See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.” (from The Who’s Feel Me). May God grant us the healing we seek by putting us in the places we need to be to feel accepted for who we are.

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