In second grade, I missed two weeks of school for a stomach ache. The doctors prescribed Zantac and told me I had acid reflux. But looking back, I'm positive I did not. I don't remember my esophagus burning or stomach cramping. What I remember is a dull pain and buzzing in my head that only flared up when I thought about it.
I was anxious. I was just anxious.
And as I got older, I just learned to ignore the stomach ache. I dealt with anxiety with a behavior that was almost obsessive-compulsive. Double- and triple- checking to make sure that I'd done all my homework and it was all packed up and ready to go in my backpack. Agonizing over not forgetting a napkin or fork or whatever I needed for my lunch. I cried once when I forgot my flute, because it was the second time that quarter, so I'd get a detention. The only thing I ever let slip was my library fine.
And then I dropped out. I'm sort of proud of that.
Now I can dream about things. I've derailed my mind from the average track, and I've learned that I don't have to go to college, that there are ways of travelling that don't include minivans and tents or airplanes and hotels, that people dance inside cubes and hoops and fabric suspended from the air, that there is a circus guild twenty minutes from where I live, that people share houses sometimes, that hula-hooping is a sport, that pole dancing will be in the Olympics, that people volunteer all over the world in exchange for room and board, that there are houses made of mud and hay, that the devil can't read your mind, that Cool Whip is made of hydrogenated vegetable oil, that there are six negative emotions, that there is a thing called slam poetry, that gelatin is made from cow hooves, that there is a difference between carbs, protein, and fat, that car horns honk in the key of F, that manual is more fun than automatic transmission, that you have to pay taxes on cars from private sellers, that turkeys stink worse than pigs...
I still need help solving quadratic equations and remembering the order of the Bill of Rights, but I can read you the poem I wrote last night, and I can play you one of Chopin's nocturnes, and I can show you what hoop dance looks like, and I can bake you a damn good batch of cookies.
I'm going to pray for you.