The first time I realized that my story may have been different from all of the other children my age, was when I was in grade seven. Aldergrove Public School, the place I don’t like to think about much, the place I was made to realize that I was just a young teenage girl who had been living in isolation most of my years in school. I was the girl who chose to make up excuses so that my teacher would allow me to stay inside for recess. “I’ll do anything, please just, can I stay inside?” Whether it meant wiping boards, or organizing shelves; In my mind, nothing could be worse than going outside and having to pretend as if being alone didn’t bother me. I remember one year, I broke my arm trying to jump off of the swing set, mid air—the swing set my father had built himself in our backyard. I was playing with the only other people I could be comfortable being myself around at the time—my sisters—in the only place I felt comfortable: home. Breaking my arm was painful, but during a school day, it was a blessing in disguise. I didn’t have to make up an excuse for a change. I remember sitting on the windowsill, looking out onto the pavement, and through the portables into the field. I don’t remember what was running through my mind at the time, what I was thinking about, but I remember feeling alone. I felt trapped inside of myself, as if there was more to me than the person I was, and I felt the need to hold that girl captive. I didn’t want anyone to see her. So I stayed quiet most of the time. I hid in the washroom during recess. I took walks through cliques of my fellow classmates, but never stopped to talk to them. I would stand by the double red doors, leaning against the wall, waiting desperately for the bell to ring. I became the odd one; the girl that most of the students poked fun at, perhaps not knowing at the time that the words they used, the words anyone used during that developmental stage of my life in particular, would shape the person I would later become.
We hugged tightly, standing in the damp, cold that we were forced to call our summer for the past few years; my phone tightly pressed up against my ear. My Uber had arrived to take me home after a long, physically and emotionally tiring day.