Am I an outsider?
I don’t believe in ‘outside’ or ‘inside’. I’ve always just been me.
In high school, of course there were cliques. The standard-issue, often stereotypical groups: the popular crowd (cheerleaders, football players), the stoners (self-explanatory), the heavy metalists, with their long hair, rock band t-shirts and ragged jeans, the nerds, the band geeks, the drama kids (those crazy fuckers who would do just about anything to be centre of attention).
I was a member of none of these groups. But that was because I was a member of all of them. I’m not quite sure how that happened; I certainly didn’t plan it. But I suppose it probably started when I accidentally auditioned for the drum line. (My life is peppered with incidences of me walking into the wrong audition. I have stories I’ll tell you another time.)
But I auditioned, without knowing exactly what it was I was auditioning for. I was just told to stand next to this snare, hold these sticks and play what you see on the page there. I swear, I had never in my life even touched a drum, much less played one. But I made it. Into the drumline. The elite, as it were...
So, there I was about 3 months later, standing on the 50 yard line with a set of quad drums strapped to my chest, a crowd of about 200 people in the stands in front of me, and just as the drum major was about the blow the whistle, counting down the start time, I’m thinking to myself, ‘How in the fuck did I get here?’
Anyway...so I was a band geek. But that was until I joined the flag line and pranced around on a game day in my little cheerleader skirt.
But going against all other predictions, I went on a date with one of the heavy metalists (he took me to a Def Leppard concert. I was in love...and I proudly showed off my concert t-shirt the next day).
Already, in just a few months at the start of my sophomore year, I was indefinable. I was everywhere, and nowhere.
So, I got a reputation as being in my own clique. I did just about everything that interested me. I wanted to know more, I wanted to learn more, so I volunteered to work on the school play, and ended up hanging out with the drama kids. They were fun, if a little messy.
Out of the blue one day, I got asked to the Homecoming dance by the captain of the football team (a shock to everyone, including me)....suddenly I was hanging out with the ‘Popular’ crowd.
Once, while walking to my car at lunch, I disrupted a nest of stoners hiding behind a pillar with their joints and pipes. They sized me up. I sized them up. The staring contest was one of complete silence, and I had the feeling they were like a herd of scared deer. A questioning stare, part defiant, part pleading. ‘What are you going to do about it? Who are you going to tell?’
And I just stood there, ignored their question with a question of my own: ‘I’m going to Taco Bell. You want anything?’
And so I returned not with just a burrito for myself; but a burrito and 20 soft tacos. I had the stoners almost literally eating out of my hand. They gave me a joint to smoke later; as thanks.
So, here I was...a member of every group; friends with just about everybody, and seriously not the kid you could put into any particular stereotype. I was the girl who took pottery classes on a Tuesday night, went to ballet on a Wednesday, had karate on a Thursday and was on the field for half-time on a Friday. I went to raves on a Saturday, after having a drumline competition in the morning, and slept all day on a Sunday.
I was everywhere. And everything.
I think about this now and I wonder where this came from. Mom.
My mother, who went through some sort of bizarre empty nest syndrome when I up and moved to Glasgow, and who decided then that she would be in a motorcycle gang. She bought a bike, learned how to ride it, and now my mother, who is pushing 60, is also pushing 60mph on her Yahama V-Star 1100, down a long highway, chasing the horizon in her leather jacket with the fringe down the sleeves.
She goes on long rides to South Dakota with her pals, and they camp here and there along the way. She doesn’t drink or smoke, so while the rest of them are knocking back bourbons and bottles of beer, my mom is knitting. She rides a bike, and then she knits.
She knitted some baby booties for a woman in their gang. They had skulls on them. No kidding.
It’s that ‘against the grain’ type of thinking that I learned from my mom. There’s no reason to lob everyone into a group, or define anyone by who they hang out with. You just have to be yourself. Because, I’ll be honest here, if you’re trying to be something for somebody else, not only is it wholly unsatisfying, but it just makes you a hypocrite, and inevitably: unhappy.
Just do what you do. If there is no ‘inside’ then how can you be an ‘outsider’?