It felt like the universe was noticing me and reaching out to me.
I’d been feeling utterly isolated at my new school: the new boy from another town who no one notices or cares to get to know. Being a shy kid and with the semester already half over–since my mother’s position as a manager at Walmart has taken her, and therefore me, from Edgewood, NM to Albuquerque, NM–I now find myself at a school with almost 1,000 students, feeling like I have been lost in the shuffle. Everyone else seems to have their own familiars eddying around the vortex of a chosen subgroup. While I wait, with little hope of it ever happening, to be noticed and invited to join in.
Then one day, I noticed another boy who seemed to be alone, and I wondered if his friends were off school that day or perhaps at a class in one of the portables. But then I noticed him the next day at a different time still stuck at the edge of the stream of students flowing past, standing in the hallway as if to prop up the wall, or like a leaf snagged at the edge of a river.
I approached and asked him, “Are you new here too?”
“No, I just don’t meet people easily,” he responded.
I remained silent, glad to have met someone like me, but before I had a chance to think of anything else to say, he continued, “I noticed you in Spanish class. You seem pretty fluent.”
I wish he had remained silent for a moment longer, because there are junctures I don’t know how to cross. And before I could suppress the reflex, I told a completely unnecessary lie. At least it would have been unnecessary for anyone with a core vision of who they are.
As if I was watching a TV show, I heard myself say,
“My mother is a Spanish teacher at UNM.”
My potential new friend’s face brightened as he responded, “My older brother has a language major at UNM! What’s your mother’s name?”
Watching his face become comfortable in the discovery that there was common ground between us, I knew that I would have to avoid him from now on, even if this left him wondering what he had said to alienate me. Either that, or I would have to swallow the bitter pill and acknowledge that I am a compulsive liar and have been for as long as I can remember. But where would I find the strength to do that? I have been around for 16 years and have never found it before.