This is an issue I feel I have a lot of the time and might be easier to write about.
Right now, as per usual, I should be laying here, eyes closed, listening to the serene hum of my mind putting itself at ease drifting towards rest. I’m not, needless to say. As for why, that very answer often eludes me.
Often, something perturbs me. In this instance, I have a vague grasp of it, much like one would try to cup water trickling from a faucet. It’s something loose and fluid, not too well shaped or with a clear purpose. Tonight, I want to question who I am.
Who am I?
Name is William Grant Murray, son of Neva and Hugh Murray. Probably an idiot child if it weren’t for my birthday postponing my education for nearly a full year. From my best recollection, my father sought mostly to provide a future for me while also making sure I spent enough time with him, by his side in whatever form to properly rear me as it were. My mom, a worrier since I can remember, was always strict and if I would misbehave would sit me at the table, scoot my chair in a bit too rough (it would briefly and slightly wind me) and tell me to wait there til my father got home.
At an early level in school it was indicated I was smart. Something my parents had done their best to cultivate, I remember clearly. But my mind would wonder. I don’t remember any of the assignments, I remember lots of boredom. Through the 3rd grade I often just drew cartoons on my homework. But, I still remained a consistent academic performer. I awaited the class day every week for gifted and talent in elementary, where real challenge and interest stood. I remember being fascinated with my classmates in there, they knew a lot of things that I didn’t, but everything they said, I did my absolute best to retain. I still have a good amount of it up in the old noggin. Maybe that’s why I’m “smart”.
Always, I stood in awe of these people, only characters to me, and never felt that I was on their level, much to everyone’s insistence that I was. In the 4th grade, my father had his accident. Opened a door to a many varied experience as well as one of stress, torment, confusion, and emotional abuse. I acted out. A lot. In class after spending nights crying I would just sleep. Mr. Folds (4th grade teacher) would send everyone to their bathroom break and leave me in the room after checking with me before hand. When everyone was gone, I would pull my head up and just stare at the things around the empty room. Even then, I can recall wondering about purpose and normality. How many of these kids would experience something painful soon? How many already had? Individuality meant we would all show it differently. Of course I had friends I liked to talk to more than the others. Those friends were typically in GT as well.
Still, I wasn’t on their level, now in fact I was measurably behind, grades slipping, a lack of concern for homework setting in. A mom not at home regularly for me to do reading assignments or much of anything. I spent a lot of time at the neighbors, I slept in a wicker chair or in the guest bedroom sometimes, but it was frequently hot and I didn’t like it in there because the acoustics when I would start crying. They were wonderful people though. I hope they’re doing ok now. I had other people step up to try to help in the academic department for completion of assignments. People from the church and things like that. One family had a daughter in high school preparing for college and she was always really nice to me, she would let me play her NES when I went over there if I finished and we had already eaten dinner.
But, even with all the assistance, there was a lot of time at the hospitals, then at the rehab/nursing home. Then no more rehab. It all went by so fast. I remember a lot of things, I don’t even recall the order they happened in. I remember my family coming down to be with us after the accident. I remember my cousins lined up in a sort of hospital lobby, waiting for news. I remember adoring Patrick, who was reading Lord of the Rings books. I remember on occasion being out there alone and pulling chairs together to swing between them to expel my cooped up energy. Until I slipped out from them once and slammed the back of my head into the floor. I remember the doctors took me into some sort of office to show me pictures of equipment and explain things to me to evaluate if I could see my father. I remember then being escorted to him. Not knowing or understanding what a coma was.
Seeing him lying there was a terrible feeling. It was both horrifying, him looking like he was dead, and relieving, knowing he wasn’t. I said hello to him. Heart rate shot up. My mom crying grabbed me and said how much dad loved me and that even his coma couldn’t stop that…
Maybe all these things I made up. I don’t even know anymore. My brain feels so gone at this point. And I just keep learning. I can’t talk about my dad right now, those memories are much more clear than I realized and also a lot more painful. He was a good man he was. That’s all I need to rely on for now.
Identity. Mine was lost when my childhood was stolen. When, as a kid, my dad was not taken from me, but put beneath me in terms of capability, in a way, I took care of him. I never saw myself as the smart kid until looking back on things. I began to see it in the year after my dad’s accident. I scored a perfect score on the state TAKS (or whatever it was then). Only two of us had done it. I still remember the other girl’s name too. I remember her pretty well in fact. I remember it being announced that two perfect scores happened
and our teacher wanted us to stand if we thought it was us. I didn’t stand. Not for a long while. She kept insisting that she didn’t see both of us standing. After most of the class was standing or had begun to sit down because it wasn’t them, I stood. “There they are!”
I remember the rush of pride and confidence I had. My face probably as red as a rose. I sat down after the round of applause for myself and Kayla. A couple friends patted me on the back. The rest of the year wasn’t so bad, I had a friend, Vincent, I started to be pretty good friends with.
That year 9/11 did happen. Of course at the beginning of the year. I remember that pretty clearly. Mostly confusion and concern with all of the adults. I slept in my mom’s bed twice shortly after, afraid for some reason that there would be further attacks and my dad wouldn’t be there to help protect me. I was smart, but numbers/math/logic was where I really could beat anyone I found out as we started to handle signed integer operations in the 5th grade. I was the only one catching on in GT, and every now and then, my GT teacher would just pull me out of class to work on an assignment with all of my attention, she’d offer a soda or something as a bribe, it usually worked. She talked to me about what was going on and things like that. Sort of a role model amongst teachers, she’s what I think teachers should strive to be. She knew the issue wasn’t in my abilities, but in my drive and emotions. If I had not been in GT, I would probably have had more issues.
Throughout growing up, I began to emulate certain things others did that I liked. Still do. Classic conditioning as it were. Just recently, I have picked up shouting in text with exclamation marks instead of using an abundance of capital letters. I do this so much that for a while I had to wonder, how much is my original thought, and what’s leftover copy from trying to emulate somebody?
I was almost always a nice kid. One kid, my childhood best friend was pretty mean to various kids. And I would often join him in his snide remarks, even though it kind of hurt to do so. After one cub scout camping trip to little rock, we got in a “moss fight” and he threw moss at someone who was intellectually deficient. Retarded. However you know it, just know them as people. And I made the mistake of joining him. Immediately, it felt wrong. He cried. I got angry at my friend, and told him to knock it off. He wouldn’t. He hit me, I hit him, we fought, kids fight. Kyle still cried. Someone was alerted nearby and we were ushered off to the showers.
My friend was stubborn, lying about what happened. I came clean right away and revealed everything. I felt so bad. I didn’t think I could ever be ok with myself again. Maybe that’s when I decided bullying was not cool, that very moment I was one and couldn’t stand to be. He wouldn’t shower off, he was scared someone would come in. I volunteered to watch out for him and be his “guard”. I had to help him get some shampoo, and talk to him to keep him ok. I used that time to apologize a couple times. I remember telling him I didn’t know why I did it. And he just kept saying it wasn’t very nice. Which, it really wasn’t.
I begun to harbor anger towards my other friend after that incident and within the year I stopped requesting to see him entirely.
I was just a kid, I know. But I let someone else’s decisions dictate my actions, even when I didn’t feel good about them. A lesson that’s impossible to forget. Maybe that’s why I help people now. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine.
At this point, identity is irrelevant, in a culture where individuality is praised over some things that are good in general, such as a solid baseline for material to be learned, your identity is just what you make it. Which, in its truest essence, is what it is. Should I be concerned that I laugh a certain way tailored after someone I admired? no. Should I be concerned that I picked up on a word someone said, and used it a lot because it sounded cool? No, not really. Or what about now? My recent example, is using an exclamation more often going to ruin or better my world? Nope. It doesn’t matter.
I didn’t always see myself as the smart kid. Now, maybe I am. Enough people believe in me, that it must be true to some extent. I have scores of evidence to show that. Maybe I’m still naive and ignorant of some things, but that’s not bad, so long as I am open to learning something every day.
My identity? In the end it’s what I want I guess. What I want is to be a guy solving problems for people. I want happiness and peace. Often even sacrificing my own. I have greed, lust, envy, or wrath on occasion, but those must be pushed aside for better avenues of exploration. I’m Grant, and I want you to know that I’m an alright guy, cause it’s high time I knew that.