I think of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and the roles we play in tribes. I thought I’d be Simon in the tribe. Simon goes off alone. He’s prophetic and dreamy. I think Simon goes into a cave and when he comes out, the bad tribe thinks he’s a beast, and spears him to death. That’s me, I say. I’m misread, on the periphery, and subjected to being lambasted by people who are afraid of where I’m coming from.
But I looked honestly, and this is not easy, but I believe I would’ve been in the bad tribe.
I acted out as a child. While there was love and encouragement, we were raised by adolescents. My mom was 18 and my dad 22 when I was born. I also became very sick which devastated my school life. My mom taught me to read when I was three and I was in special progress classes but couldn’t concentrate after the illness. My parents might have done more if they knew better. They gave me a wonderful childhood however.
But I became rebellious, destructive and mean. I wanted to be bad, to test limits. I remember rounding up kids to leave school to go to Pathmark to steal candy. Our families had money to give us, but once I got kids together to beg for money in the street. Another time I lied about the teacher collecting money for something and stole from kids in my class. Tyrone found out, popped out from behind a car, punched me in the head and followed me home to tell my mother. This was all at around the age of eight, and there were other things I did. I also did mean things to kids that I’m embarrassed about. If I smoked cigarettes I would have been a bonafide street urchin.
After surgery for my illness when I was 12, I befriended the main stream kids. They put me in check and I became docile and unsure of myself — they were the majority. I couldn’t be the wild little pirate anymore. I knew instinctively that being with these girls was a cocoon of protection, even though I was on the periphery. I later became an alcoholic then recovered which helped me to grow as a person.
As an adult I’ve been sited on my job review for integrity. One manager said she thought that I was a class act. My mom calls me Saint Sandee. While my core personality from childhood exists — my curiosity about death and mystery of life and my blunt approach – those negative traits were mutable and transient, though that mischievous acting out may be manifested in my extreme views and sometimes severe criticism.
I just hope to continue to nurture that part of me that people gravitate to. I want to be tactful, sympathetic, loving, generous and forgiving. I guess now, this is why I relate to being Simon.