I’ve never really lived in a small town. The city I was born in was the state capital, and we lived in a more suburby area. Although that sounds well-off, my Dad was a student, and it was like just that we played so much that made me feel rich. Like the wealth of the warm northern summer sun beating down on your back as you pull a stick and a string along behind you, or the shadows of the criss crossing trees above, some of them were pine trees, others deciduous, dark green maples. It was golden in my memories, except playing and fun back then wasn’t really a want or an enjoyment, it was a need really. It made the things that we pursued with so much intensity kind of fragile and life kind of empty, full of a few states of emotion. Like a huge bubble of contentment had been pulled tightly over my emotions and I couldn’t feel any depth or length or breadth. Isn’t that the price of innocence and not knowing? being a child is not being able to know.
We moved to another country, much lower down the globe, a less advanced one, according to the big bodies out there. Equatorial, as in I live with the equator cutting through me now. It used to feel far more humid back then. Puberty hit faster than it might have, taking me by a certain desperate surprise. There was this moment, a few weeks before, when I was going down some stairs at school, that I felt that bubble light feeling stretch over me. Its the only time I think that I was conscious of it, the only time I can compare to myself now. Then it burst, and although it was difficult and messy and full of bathroom changes and leaks and stinks and too much blood, and that seemed to taint growing up, I remember feeling hidden depths and emotions opening up in my brain. A new dimension entirely, I could feel love, I could feel passion, I could feel sadness and real despair. Or at least the seeds of them. I knew things now, and suddenly what I was wearing wasn’t short enough.
Growing came with a price. I couldn’t play as innocently as I wanted to. Even if all I wanted was to feel free, to run, to treat the boys in my life like we’re still kids, to feel the wind in my face and scarf, it would be misconstrued. Intentions I never had would be attributed to me automatically, and it was suppressive. I didn’t understand the rules, and my parents made me confused because they never seemed to go with the rest of the increasingly reserved girls in my class- they let us go to the playground and let us swing standing up on these immensely long chained swings- and you know it was like flying, as close as I could get, especially when I jumped. They let us hang upside down from the monkey bars, and flip over the sides. Or walk across them- they cheered us on as we raced across the dark smelly parking building that was placed splat in the middle of the apartment compound, or up and down the stairs to the fourteenth floor, against the lift.
I didn’t know how to speak up, to defend myself against my own feelings of embarrassment. I didn’t know how to tell people that even though I looked like an adult to them (Bangladeshi adults and Malaysian adults can be really small to really tall) I wasn’t one. I did not understand why they treated me differently from my sisters- why my younger sister was so adored like a spoiled child, or why my elder sister received so much praise for her quiet cleverness, or why I was teased so much as being less smart, less physically agile, less pretty, less in every way. Maybe in a normal brain it would have hurt and I’d move on. But my brain at that moment, was, according to the teachers and the abstract analysis, exceptional. At least, so I was fed, and so I was told, and so I thought, that if I didn’t develop my IQ now as much as possible, I would never get the chance, that this is it, I could never learn or grow or change when I was really an adult, and there was no time. 18 loomed like a finish line, when I would become a finished final product, and there would be nothing more for me to do. Adulthood loomed scarily, full of restrictions, full of no mores, no more running, no more playing catching. So those slights people made against me, they stuck deep in my 13 year old brain, and I started going off the charts, into crazy. Thats when things went weird and I had OCD.