Saturday, November 28, 2009

Finding My Own Kind

Back when our kids were little, we used to get a book out of the library that had, as one its characters, a bird that would fly far and wide searching for its own kind. My family knew that I identified with that bird, and they even used to kid me about it.

While I was growing up I never "fit in." I wanted to find people who shared my interests and attitudes, but I was often disappointed when they thought of me as "odd" or "other," or simply too difficult to deal with. Perhaps that is why I stopped doing facebook: it is too personally painful to look back and, once again, feel like an outsider (though, in retrospect, I imagine it was often by choice). It is not that I am a snob. I am functionally social, and have conversations with neighbors I meet in the store and people who go to concerts. I also try to keep up with local and non-local happenings, both musical and non-musical. I do have friends, but, perhaps out of self-preservation (and also out of impossibility), they tend not to be like me. They also tend to live in other places.

When I was a young adult I had the opportunity to leave my life and language behind and build a whole new life from scratch in a new country and speaking a new language. The first several months were filled with wonderful adventures: even the most mundane tasks were fascinating, and even the most uninteresting people were fascinating because everything I talked about with them was in my unschooled German. The excitement faded, however, when my German became functional enough to say pretty much the same things I would say in English. I was faced, once again, with myself.

Dragging that self along with me through the various stages of my life that I have enjoyed since I stopped living it in German, has finally become kind of fun. I have come to like the person I have grown into, and, perhaps, I would be really freaked out if I were to meet someone now who happened, in this world of zillions of people, to be just like me. Still, occasionally, I find myself on the lookout for another of my own kind.

While casually moving through the internets, I happened upon a person who shares my name. She is a painter in England, and her paintings seem to share some of the properties of some of the music I write. My own kind? I highly doubt it, but it is still interesting to contemplate the idea.

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