I am well into the process of writing my memoir, and the resounding point that I see arising again and again is that there has always been an enormous duality about my existence. I have experienced huge highs and severe lows in my life. I continuously swing from one extreme to another, and I have never felt that I was like everyone else.
Even as a young child, I was extremely aware that there was something different about me. Probably before I even went to school, I realized that I was thinking about and noticing things that other people did not seem to note. By the time that I was in school, I was becoming quite sure that the other kids and I were living in 2 different worlds. Yet, I was a very social child. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to fit in; and because of that, I became 2 different people.
On one hand, there was the social Jacki–the cheerleader, Miss Personality, and Campus Favorite. On the other hand, there was the REAL me–the person whose heart followed the whippoorwill’s call deep into the caverns of the night–the person who sat, staring into the campfire, feeling its heat warming my body and sensing its flames, as they danced across my eyes.
Unlike the norm, I was the kind of kid who would hear the wind rustle through the leaves at night and watch their dark shadows gracefully bend and sway in the breeze; and I was the kind of kid who stared at the stars and hung my heart on the tip of a crescent moon; and when the owl hooted somewhere near, I always wondered why.
I well remember 6th grade. The science teacher was talking about taste buds; and on that day, I dared to actually try to express what was on my mind. I said, “I wonder if everyone’s taste buds taste the same way. I wonder if a carrot tastes the same way to me as it does to you.”
Everyone else in the room snickered, and the teacher’s face glazed over.
I didn’t get an answer, but I became convinced of what I had always suspected. People just didn’t get me.
For the world, I became Miss Congeniality, but deep inside, I was someone else. It took many years for me to accept that other else, but over time, she became my best friend-a friend, other people might only imagine.
When I was 20-years-old, I was nearly killed in a car wreck. Months later–after I had begun trying to reconstruct myself–I began to reconsider the course of my life. In college, I had managed to become popular with a lot of people; but I had to admit that those people did not like ME–they didn’t even know ME–they liked that other person–the person who I invented for them to see–my Imaginary Friend, a person who didn’t like Me at all.
The best thing about growing older is that all of the me’s have shifted around. Now, the creative me–who was formerly the closet me and only a whisper within my own mind–has become the REAL me; and the other me–the social butterfly me–has been laid to rest.
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 30, 2015
All Rights Reserved
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.”