Even as a child I was aware I was quite weird. My fantasy world was more extreme then. I remember sitting at the table for sunday roast, having not been able to sleep all night, reading batman comics at a friends house, and watching my family drift backwards into a tunnel that was the mouth of batman’s mask.
I remember burying myself in trees, imagining that I was lost on islands. I remember dead tree spaceships and trying to re-enact the entirety of Lord of the Rings by jumping between two concrete blocks.
I just remember feeling totally out of place.
I don’t remember much, to be perfectly honest, so it’s a tricky question to answer. Childhood felt a bit like a cloud. I get the impression I had an almost hallucinated childhood. When I pick at details they fall apart in the way that the thought processes of an acid trip do. Truths split into opposing possibilities, exposing themselves as nothingnesses and meaninglessness.
I do remember a period where I befriended a group of girls a few years older than me, just before they got ready leave for secondary school. I think it was one of my first crushes, but at the same time, talking with these people helped me feel myself for the first time in my life. I was embarrassed of this for years afterwards, but I kept trying to confess to them that I hated boys and felt like I was more like them. This was probably the first time I openly addressed my femininity, and the brilliance it opened in me was kind of terrifying. The sudden security in finding people like me. It was huge enough that I brutally suppressed it for years, trying to fit back into the role I had been assigned.
Throughout my childhood, I knew I was weird. I thought I was clever (my mother lectured me not to be arrogant repeatedly, so I’m pretty sure I was arrogant, but I never felt that way), but I also knew that I wasn’t like normal people. I could feel a weirdness inside that expressed itself in obsession with stories and alien worlds. I fantasised about close knit futures, imagining a dream life of hiding in a bookshop, wrapped in music and writing, or working in Games Workshop, of all places, navigating a community through painting and rulesets.
I hid in boxes a lot. My music was always loud, and I’d always be singing along, but terrified when I got caught.
Was I okay?
At the time, I never thought so. I always thought I’d come out a bit wrong. Everything I did felt embarrassing. Or perhaps, embarrassment is just the paste that glued my memories firm enough for them to still be with me.
Now I can see. That life made me.
I think I was okay. As okay as I could be. I found ways to express who I was, even though I didn’t know.
What more could childhood be?
Illustration by Jaime