I put the butch wax on my hair so that it would rise up to the sky, making me just a little taller. They called me “Mouse” at school because I was so short. Still am, but I don't think about that so much any “I could have been a basketball star,” I thought, “if only I was a few inches taller.”
I would go to a few parties, but I had no idea of what to say so I would just dance every dance. I liked the slow dances mostly because I could feel a warm body pressed against mine.
Finally I found a girlfriend I could talk to. We'd talk on the phone every night. I can't remember a thing we might have talked about. But one day see invited me to be on Chicago bandstand with her and I broke up with her. But that was after I had bought her an engraved bracket with my name on it. It must have cost a couple of dollars. There was a little Chinese store around the corner from my house where I ordered it. It was run by a little old Chinese woman. I remember the smell of the store and how everything seemed to twinkle.
I had two older sisters. Boy did I envy them because I wanted to be older. Being the little one in the family and being a Freshman in high school were about the worst positions in life that one could have. Or, at least, that's what I thought at the time.
Recently a zen teacher said that the greatest source of our suffering is wanting to be someone we aren't. I wanted to be tall like Mark, a better athlete like Billy, a better student like Jon, and 16 like my sister's boyfriend. I wanted to be so many different people. I probably just looked out the window in classes and played "what if" with myself, wondering what it would all be like if I wasn't me.
I think that was the year when my horse fell on my foot, slipping as we went down a muddy hill. I started the year with a cast on my leg and managed to be on the basketball team for a few weeks, even with the cast. But homework was too tough, ending my hopes of becoming a professional athlete.
It was also the time when I stared taking pictures. Finally I could express myself. Finally I could do something that others couldn't do. Finally it was ok to be me.