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Extraverted Hermit

I grew up moving a lot. Each move represented a promotion for Dad and a greater opportunity for the family. We moved from a termite infested efficiency to a house my grandfather rented to us to our first owned fixer-upper property (much akin to the house I own now) to our newly built house to our first built-to-spec two-story Jamestown to a nice brick home on a wooded lot in Germantown, TN. From there I went to college and the moving around becomes somewhat a different story.

Each move to me represents a definitive chapter in my life telling a story of growth, moral lessons, trials and tribulations, happiness, sadness and an array of other Hollywood type themes. With each move, the extravert in me emerged more and more. My desire to have friends squelched any shyness until my junior year of high school. I was a sophomore in New Jersey and a junior in Tennessee. I started off with a desire to focus on studies and ignore people as we would just be parting company in a matter of two years. Little did I know that about half the 674 people in my graduating class would come with me to Knoxville. No matter; I could not contain the extravert.

A side-effect of the moving was that I didn’t develop a history. I didn’t get to know my family and could not appreciate their roots, my ancestors, nor could I carry on any of their legacies. Likewise, my friends could not know or share my history. Others, the hometowners, would tell shared stories that spanned their entire lives. I had trouble developing bonds with people. No matter how badly I wanted closeness of a friend or girl friend, no matter how badly I wanted to develop platonic or even emotional relationships I just could not overcome a sense of distance, unacceptance, separation, and alienation. Something always seemed to be missing.

When I was about 11, the neighborhood kids gathered for a game of baseball. I wasn’t invited. In hindsight, probably nobody was…they probably just gathered. I had a red bike I named Mickey because it had a big sticker of Mickey Mouse on it; in a similar way I named our gray cat, Gray; and our cat with two different colored paws, TwoPaws; and this is why I’m not allowed to name our children. I rode my bike back and forth near the yard where the game was being played becoming more and more incensed that here I was in plain view yet I still was invisible to the people I wanted so desperately to call “friends.” Finally someone, a girl named Angie I think, looked up and asked if I wanted to play. My reward had come! But I could not accept it. I had to snub them they way they snubbed me so I declined and rode off to spend some alone time. Yes, in hindsight it was a rather demented way to think.

I was always at peace with myself particularly if I was surrounded by nature. I would go to a pond, climb a tree and sleep in its branches. I found solace on the tops of buildings at shopping centers. I disappeared in acres of undeveloped woodlands trying to get lost. I hung out at Lake Pontchartrain playing on the levees and rested spread eagle on my back at the end of the airport runway watching 737s take off 100 feet over my head. I danced near the railroad tracks trying to convince myself to hop on a boxcar and see where it would go but in the end I was more interested in finding my smashed pennies than explaining to Dad why I needed to be flown home from Chicago.

Similar feelings and experiences carried over to college but that’s a different story. In the past I intentionally kept myself closed to the world and was an emotionless husk. I did not want closeness. Today I am a far different person with great openness and emotionally exposed. However, when the stress and tension rises I find myself having to fight hard to not retreat within. It would not be healthy for my family but sometimes I just want to shut myself off from the rest of the world.

[Note: On the same day as the baseball game I found a key in the road in Kenner, LA that some 7 or 8 years later would open the trunk of my newly purchased Triumph Spitfire 1500 in Germantown, TN.]

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