I was five years old approaching six and I could read and recite dinosaur names. I knew deinonychus, brachiosaurus, and ankylosaurus among dozens of others. I don’t know how I learned to pronounce them. My parents tried and failed. I corrected them, and my mom called me Professor after the character on Gilligan’s Island.
I couldn’t tie my shoes.
When I was six years old, my parents bought a set of encyclopedias. I looked through all of them. I liked the pictures, but I had no patience to read the articles. I didn’t know what they were for. I read captions and footnotes instead, so I learned what words meant more than I learned what they were saying.
I couldn’t ride a bike.
I was seven years old when I wrote my first science fiction story, an assignment for class about a spaceship landing in the playground. I wrote about the space shuttle because I couldn’t comprehend an actual flying saucer landing. They were make-believe, and I wanted it to be believable. Mine was the only one Teacher read to the class.
I couldn’t hold a pencil properly.
I was nearly eight years old when I made my first real friend, the teacher’s son. He liked me, although I had no idea why. I went along with it and decided he was my best friend. We chased each other around the schoolyard, laughing as we tagged each other. No tag backs. The school year ended, and I didn’t see him the next year.
I made friends with a kid from another class during lunch recess. He had a small furry raccoon toy that clipped on a pencil. He put it on his finger and made it talk in a squeaky voice. I laughed. I called him “Raccoon Man”, and he was my new best friend.
I eventually made more friends, and it felt good. I had no idea how it happened. Other kids liked me because I was the smart kid in class, and they thought that was cool. I didn’t understand it. I thought that everybody could do the things I did, and I wondered why I couldn’t do the things they did. I ran awkwardly. I couldn’t throw a football. It had been two years since I decided that I would be funny. I quoted Mork and Bugs and Daffy, but I didn’t find my audience until third grade. I wasn’t weird; I was just a real-life cartoon. I could relate to that. They finally liked me, and it felt good.
The more I got to know people, the more different I felt. But it was OK in elementary school because they knew me. Then I got to junior high, and everything went to hell. Nobody knew me. Nobody liked me. They thought I was weird and different. I was different and loved; now I was different and ridiculed.
I couldn’t understand.
I’ve worked in customer service most of my life never knowing how terribly wrong it was for me. Now I aspire to write professionally. I feel so disconnected from others that I can’t even refer to myself as a person, and I’m OK with that. Nothing ever made sense until I discovered NVLD, and now I refuse to compromise my identity for work. I am who I am.Share your own story