I struggled with that a lot then, still now sometimes. Sitting by a pond in my junior year of high school, someone asks me, “Why aren't you smoking?” and me answering, “Just don’t feel like it,” and the reply, “Weird, I thought all poets smoked weed.” (It makes me really quiet and anxious, exactly what I like to be AROUND A BUNCH OF PEOPLE*). Then last night, at a friend’s wedding, watching all the girls from my freshman dorm suite take a picture together, and another friend asking me, “Why aren't you over there?” and my answer being, “I don’t know.”
And I don’t know, but I do know, but I don’t know. Maybe I just didn't feel like it.
I've just never felt like I belonged anywhere. And in this class this English teacher taught me that that was kind of ok.
This teacher would become a great great friend, throughout high school and after, and during high school he took a bunch of students on long camping trips. One summer, we went out west. Grande Escalante, Valley of the Gods. He made us these epic playlists, his current favorites, some classics, giving a group of 17 year olds a cultural education, or just a chance to experience something new.
This trip he had Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane”.
This was the first time I had heard any of Dylan’s longer ballads, but it was also the first time that I realized that I, as an artist, could witness an injustice around me, and do something about it. The strange thing is that we all connected with this song. We listened to this 8 minute song on repeat, the the point where Charlie and Irwin (our chaperones, though they loathe the term), would groan at the request to play it again. But we all connected with it. The story, the message, the chord progressions, it meant something to all of us.
I think a lot about confidence and insecurity, I think just because I’m really sensitive and insecure. But I think I've always been afraid of taking ownership. Over my feelings, whether I have the right to feel them. Over the stories that I see and live each day, do I have a right to tell them? I think I've never felt like I belonged anywhere, therefore I always question whether I have the right to be here.
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter died today, and I hope that he has found peace. I can’t help thinking of a song, an 18-passenger van in the desert, and that for 8 minutes, I think that I can change something, I can make a difference, I can belong. I've been listening to this song on repeat all morning.
*In retrospect, I'm pretty much like this all the time.