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If you were an animal?

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Mr. Stanley's first freshman Speech assignment was a simple one "If you were an animal what would you be?" Very cliche answers arose from the desks of 13 year olds. Michael said he would be a horse so he could run away. Sarah, a bird so she could fly away. I think Lillian wanted to be a cheetah with pink spots so everyone would look as she sped away. None of these actually answered the question, "If you were" but rather, "If you could choose".

I stood up and said I would be an okapi. None knew what the hell an okapi was. An okapi... something like a zebra, related to giraffes and ant eaters. As any typical hormonal teenage girl, I felt so out of place. I was fresh out of Chicago, in an extremely country town in Tennessee. My parents built our house and left me to fend for myself, seeking companionship with a boy crazed, drug driven, wound wheeling group of girls with whom I had nothing in common except for breasts and a uterus. Still healing from an uncle's death from AIDS, an aunt's death from a car wreck and insanity, a best friend's paralyzation, and my first real heart break I found it hard to allow a connection with another human being. It was no suprise I felt like an okapi.

Third grade with friends and family surround and overseeing my every move, I learned of an okapi. I remember wishing I were such an outsider and could differentiate myself from my very Catholic, extrememly Irish-Polish, entirely routine and tradition run community. I was young and stupid. I just wanted to fit in in Tennessee. But forced to mature too early (having to deal with my grandfather slowly dying before my 14 year old eyes with my parents 600 miles away and my virginity lost to a near stranger whose death would most likely come as a relief and no surprise) I found no similarities to horses, birds, or cheetahs. I did not want to run away, I simply longed to blend into the flower stained wallpaper we called high school. Maybe by slowly carving away little pieces of myself and sanity I could fit properly. I felt like an okapi, so desparate to blend in to everyone surrounding me, yet so different that all anyone could do is stare, yet somehow ignore.

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I enjoyed this partially because it reminded me of my "Alien" piece, from a different perspective. But also because it tries to explain that sens eof alienation thats just right there at your finger tips. Thanks miss.

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I enjoyed reading this! Thanks

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