I have always been an outsider; a greaser, a Soda Pop.
A spectator. Never really fitting in, never really getting there.
A moth, butting its’ tiny head against a light bulbs hot glow, over and over again.
It has a lot to do with where I sat in the family unit, I suppose. The last one; the littlest, 6 years behind everyone else. Always trying to catch up, to join in, to feel included.
Making myself as invisible as I could, at the long Christmas table, before I was discovered and exiled to the kids card table in the corner, away from the murmuring, adult magic.
Completely cocooned by inclusion; What a moment that must be.
I want my voice heard, my personality accepted; my skin, my bones, in uniform with others around me.
At school I was sidelined a lot of the time. ON the edge of a giant stretch. A bright, rolling green lawn, scattered with lunch tables and ball games. A petri dish to observe; girls under my microscope laughing together, bonding, adoring each other; from class room letters and invites to sleep overs. I never considered myself one of them.
Growing older it became parties. The first taste of drugs and alcohol and sex and breaking of curfews, we were all cementing friendships and bonds even further. For some reason it felt like it was all without me. I was a bystander. I had no idea why and it hurt every spot in my body, my joints creaking like Tin Man with no oil, if I only had.. a place to fit.
What was so wrong with me? I didn’t lament this tragic state of woe in a pathetic way, more so it was a genuine question filled with curiosity….why?
Why could I not bask in the hot glow of light-bulbed connections.
Standing on the outside looking in, is how it always seems to go. Gnawing at my brain matter.
How lucky to be part of such a close tribe, with inside jokes and team mate pokes.
I have had it fleetingly in my time here and there, flecks of gold amongst the rocky pools. I was sometimes able to turn my pink lady leather collar up, cigarette dangling.
I think it has been harder still with the type of work I have found myself doing. The life of a contractor. Flinging from one office to the other, like a pinball. Watching everyone else connect while I look on, studying them with my binoculars as if they were some rare bird.
Working hard at a job I loved, with people I adored; feeling like my gang, my team. Until I am suddenly tossed aside and not spoken to again, reminding me to sit in the stands where I belong and not join the pack on the field. Collecting bruises and feathers along the way.
On Christmas cards sent to our family of 6, I was always the very last name on the sentiment. It always bothered.
When picking sides for games, I was the last one usually selected. My skin would always turn a prickly, burning red.
I notice I am the last on an email list always, my ideas are always plan b or c, no one ever fights over who gets to sit next to me and no one has asked if we can take a photo together, wide smiles, arms around each other connected.
Boys pushing me away after the chase, I have no idea why. Why did they pick the next girl and not me?
People talk over me, around me, behind me and not often to me. It slaps and slaps gently, like the tide finally reaching the shore; tiny grains of sand; underneath eroding.
It all sounds so sad doesn’t it, every inch of me has always felt this way. I don’t think it is anyone, though, intentionally causing this anymore. I think it is all me and how I see myself; judge myself.
When I forget this though I can be so mad at life, picking me last for all of the giant stuff too; travel, love, wedding bells and pregnant bellies.
Did I do something wrong? Am I somehow missing something that everyone else signed up for without me realising?
I remember once I was on a school excursion, the cool kids of course all wrapped up in each other excitedly as the bus roared down the Oxley Highway knocking us from left to right. I recall studying the kids at the front of the bus. I knew I didn’t belong with them and it made me angry that I had no control, no choice in it at all, that’s where I was dumped. It was the sparkling group at the back of the bus I wanted in on and I intently watched them; trying to join in as best as I could craning my neck to the truth or dare game being played. Patience paying off as I was finally invited to play before realising it was only because I had become the dare, a kiss on my lips a mortifying punishment to the boy with the green eyes and tanned skin. What hope did I have, as I trudged back to the front of the bus where I apparently belonged.
We all sit on our porches and view the same sunset at the end of the day, are we really so different.
I somehow find myself on the edge once again, at the front, looking towards the back where the cool kids have gathered. Although I am now bobbing up and down on a boat at high tide and not a bus side to side. A new job, with new team mates, at a new Christmas table. They are all sitting together and I have never felt more out of place, wishing I could jump overboard and swim back to shore where I now belong; to people that I have managed to collect along the way, eventually. Who, actually think I am worth choosing first, who find me funny and lovely and a good friend with interesting stories.
Oh, to walk past the cool girls at the Christmas table, at the back of the boat, bobbing up and down as they giggle and dance and leave me out of it all so easily. To be able to finally shout at the top of my lungs that none of it actually bothers me at all anymore.
To whack a big smooch on one of their lips.
To stride past them all, as I take a flying leap off port side, grabbing the life ring as I go.
Yelling over my shoulder as I hit the water, ‘Stay Gold, Pony Boy, Stay Gold.’…more to myself than to anyone else.
Emma Kate xoxo