MY PARKA

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MY PARKA

When I was a little girl, I used to run away if a car pulled into our driveway.  We didn’t have many visitors.  I didn’t want to say hello.  My parents were only slightly less awkward than I was.

When I was in high school, I wore too much makeup.  My mother didn’t stop me.  “Do whatever you want,” she said.  “Just don’t tell me about it.” 

When I got too excited about something or had too many thoughts crammed into my head, I’d stop in the middle of a sentence and stare off into space. 

When I couldn’t express my feelings, I’d cross my arms and say things like, “No, that’s not what I mean,” because verbalizing things was difficult for me. 

When I was a freshman in college, my friends thought I got stoned a lot.  I didn’t.

When I was a senior, my friends thought I didn’t care about them.  I did.

When I wanted to hide, I wore a Sears parka with a fake-fur hood and synthetic padding, with low-ride jeans and cute little tops.  I wore my parka everywhere, in all kinds of weather.  Over the years, it became frayed and worn out, but I refused to get a new one because I could pull that hood over my head and become invisible.  When the hood was up, I could hide.  When the hood was down, I exhausted people with my exhausted eyes.

When I was growing up, you see, there was a wolf who would snatch the words right out of my mouth if I couldn’t articulate my thoughts at the speed of light.  A smiling, critical, judgmental wolf for whom I wasn’t good enough.  I was a sheep in a wolf’s house.

When I felt like the world was judging me, and I didn’t know who I was, why wouldn’t I hide?

When I took myself seriously, nobody else did.

When I understood this, I became a writer.