2013, Rheumatism

On Being a Strange Kid

When I was a little girl I had a tiny voice.  I sounded like Minnie Mouse, and I spoke carefully.  I would take long pauses in the middle of sentences to think about what I wanted to say.  I was shy beyond belief and I can tell you from where I stand now that it was because I was afraid of people.  I was so sensitive to the world that most of the time I preferred not to open my mouth to speak.  Small events that didn’t effect my twin sister stand out in my mind as traumatic lessons learned.  Despite this fear, I always kind of went headlong into things that scared me.

When I was really little, my dad was a beekeeper.  He remembers one day I told him I wanted to be stung by a bee.  I remember this day—I wanted to be stung because I wanted to know how it felt and because he’d just bought special medicated Q-tips for bee stings and I wanted to try them. He agitated a honey bee and placed it on the tip of my finger and it stung me.

Bees don’t scare me.

Once, when I was probably about 10 and my dad was still working for Japan Airlines, we went to his annual work party.  I quietly decided that I wanted to try eating a dollop of wasabi, so I did. I remember popping a finger full of wasabi into my mouth and quietly suffering, hoping no one had seen what I’d done.

I also decided one time that I wanted to stick my pinky finger in ice cream for as long as possible until I couldn’t feel it anymore.  I took my finger out and exclaimed “I can’t feel my finger I can’t feel my finger!!” and quickly turned to sobs as I realized I couldn’t feel my finger.  I waited and nursed my little finger, judging minute-by-minute whether or not I would be a pinky-less 11 year old.

I tried a tampon before I started my period so that I knew what to do when I did start.
I commuted to high school an hour away to force myself to find comfort in a new environment.
I backpacked through Japan for 2 months by myself when I was 18 to isolate myself and push the boundaries of loneliness.
The list could go on.

Being diagnosed with R. A. is different because it’s not on my terms, and I didn’t prepare for this in the way that I’ve prepared for other scary things in my life.  The thing is, everything else has prepared me for this. I have all of the tools.

It’s a bee sting.

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One thought on “On Being a Strange Kid

  1. Connie Butler says:

    Dear Erika Yes you do have the tools, spunk, and I do not remember you being shy or squeaky, just the little instigator of stuff when things got a bit dull, or the one who had to leave at least one plate, glass whatever on the table when everyone had cleared their’s to a. be different, b. cause a little riff from your Grandma or c. because you always forgot something. It reminded me of someone who was born long ago. Remind me to share some of my escapades someday. LOts of love Grandma

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