I can still remember the exact moment
The rosy tint was wiped off of my glasses.
I was eight, and at 26 now
I still don’t know if he knows
This one seemingly small moment was
The impetus of my changed worldview.
The moment that knocked me out
Of my family’s orbit and turned me into the enemy.
A moment, so small,
Yet somehow changed everything.
I was bored, you see.
We’d been at a museum the whole day
And I was a child, over it and ready to go home.
Fingers clasped onto my neck;
My cue to knock it off.
I explained, in my childlike way,
That we didn’t need to like the same things while
Fingers dug into the sweat at the back of my neck.
All I said was that I wasn’t interested
And fingernails became talons digging further.
He whispered daggers into my ears
He gave me everything and this was my penance.
I was nothing if not for what he had molded me into.
The next month was spent learning to be a lady.
Quiet please, no slouching, don’t dare to make waves.
One moment turned into a countdown, a mantra.
I made you, you’re nothing.
Sit down, shut up, move on.
What he didn’t know was that being a nerd
Has its advantages.
By ten, one of the most well-read kids in class.
Twelve, in advanced classes.
Fourteen, I was rocking extracurriculars.
All this to say that at sixteen,
When I had my first girlfriend
I was smart enough to go back to those lessons.
Shut up, don’t make waves.
Ten years later,
I’m the one everyone at the holidays
Rolls their eyes at and whispers about
In corners, but I’m not ashamed.
I am nothing like what they tried to mold.
My compassion isn’t lesser,
My kindness is a strength unknown to them,
And all I can feel now all these years later is pity
That they will never step far enough out
Of a self-contained bubble to greet
The real world and her people.