Quiet? Nope, just pressurizing.


Kindergarten – I remember my first day well. I walked in with a little hesitance, and my mom, with her great big 80’s hair still clinging onto her head despite the turn of the decade.  The kids were all told to sit on the floor near the front of the class, and for a while I sat alone. And even though the space wasn’t all that large it was the emptiness that made me feel kind of small. But it started to fill in with more and more of these tiny people – these tiny strangers. And every so often I would turn to my mom for a look of reassurance.

I mean - who were these people? I thought, “Why are they so loud? Am I just quiet? Why are they all talking to each other? Hey, why isn’t anyone talking to me?” I was nervous and scared. I couldn’t imagine coming back to that day after day. But then I realized I didn’t need to. Somehow everything was made alright with just a question. “Do you want to be my friend?”

In first grade I was living it up. The other kids called me the "Tetherball King." And in second it was "Assistant President" of the basketball team - beneath the President and VP, but I was still proud. In the third grade I cried names the bullies called me. I couldn’t defend myself, but I had some good friends who helped. Then in the fourth when kids would say “Rice Boy, go eat your maggots” I pushed back, but then…

“The teacher says I’m right. I think I’m right. But why am I being punished? If right is wrong, and wrong is bad, then what am I?”

By the fifth grade I learned to slacken my fists and to hold my tongue - to shutdown, lock up, cave in. Not a king anymore. As for what I was I couldn’t tell you, but they always could: the Quiet One, the Shy One, the Weird One, the Wallflower. For years I believed it all. There would be days I’d come home from school when not a breath left my lungs until I locked the door to my bedroom. I’d start the computer, pop open the CD-drive, and turn up the speakers. And that’s when something kind of great would happen.

I’d start to ebb and flow, filling the whole room. I’d jump, and I’d bounce, and fly off the walls. I’d scream, I’d shout, and I’d sing so loud everyone on my street would hear. They wouldn’t need to ask what and ask who, because they already knew. The answer to both was distortion.