I was just a little girl, about 6 years old. I ran into my room, crying, and flung myself on the bed, shutting the door behind me. “Mother”, as I called her, had just repeated her common taunt. “Nobody loves you, Everybody hates you,” she cried, in a sing-song voice, although it was not much of a song to me. I believed her. Nobody loved me. Certainly my mother did not. As I grew, and went to church with neighbors, she was to affirm to me that God was included in the “nobody” who could love me. God didn’t love me. Nobody loved me.
I slipped out of the room, and out of the house, into the night. I was never missed. It was in those moments that I could find some peace, perhaps if I was lucky, even bits of happiness. If God did not love me, He slipped up by letting me love nature as I did, by letting me love the sounds of the breeze as it moved through the leaves of the trees, by letting me love the shadows drawn on the sidewalk by those leaves as they moved beneath the streetlight. It was not much, my little piece of nature. It was always surrounded by suburbia, as we moved from one house to another, leaving me always the new kid, the odd one, who nobody wanted. But at night I had my outdoors, a squirrel, maybe an owl if I was lucky. The stars. How I loved the stars. I found whatever comfort I could find in the blackness of the sky with the twinkling stars peering through – that’s when I could see them. When the smog of the LA basin did not obliterate them from view. On those nights I would just love the streetlights, and the quiet, and the sense that a little bit of the world – during those moments – was there just for me.
In the day, I watched those human things that moved in and out of my life – people, fascinating, frustrating, who I could not ignore, who made me smile, and then cry. Who I grew more and more to love, fear, and never quite understand. For many years I did not even aspire to be one. It seemed beyond me to understand this species, to which my mother and father belonged, but certainly I did not. As I aged, I never imagined where I might fit among them. The day never came that I realized that there was a place I might want to be, and that I moved toward. There was never a decision made as to career, there were no aspirations, no hopes, no dreams… ah but there was. Yet, one. Only one.
I wanted to be one of those people things. I wanted to love them out in the open, not bound by fear as I walked beneath a streetlamp, alone in the quietness of the night. Not just in the darkness from under the safely enclosing covers of my bed. I wanted to openly love them, enjoy them, share “people stuff” with them. Be one. A people. My mother wanted me to be a doctor, or a physicist, or something in the sciences. Love was not a science that she was familiar with. She was disappointed when I was none of what she aspired to for me. She never ceased to remind me so.
My people aspirations hid in the darkness. My dreams were full of big wishes like friendship, smiles, love, sharing. Where many of my friends dreamed of big houses, work, cars, and successes, my dreams were that someone would accept me, that I would understand something that would make all the difference, or that someone I loved would understand something about me. I wanted to be someone who could just love. Who knew what love meant, and did it well, somehow…