November 13, 2007
Age 13 at the time
When I was in school in the United States, it was miserable. Before then I had lived in Japan, as a military dependent with a Japanese mother and lots of family who accepted us mixed-race kids. Life was so great. Then we moved to Tacoma, Washington, where my father was stationed, and all of a sudden I became a pariah -- for having a Japanese mother, for looking like the local kids with German ancestry even though I was mixed-race (how dare I!), for getting good grades. So, instead of trying to make friends, I closed in on myself. I turned to books and they became my friends; science fiction books and mystery books became particularly wonderful friends. Andre Norton became one of my favorite authors, and Mr. Spock on Star Trek was the character I could identify with. Simon and Garfunkel's song "I Am a Rock" was my anthem: "...and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries."
When my father returned from a year's tour in Vietnam and we moved to Warner Robins, Georgia for my eighth grade year, I thought life might be a little better. The teachers seemed to like me, and the other students didn't really notice me, so I didn't get into trouble. There was even one girl who said she wanted to be my friend, that we should exchange Christmas gifts. I bought her the best gift I could find for my $1.00 monthly allowance (this was back in 1968), and I wrapped it and took it to school the last day before Christmas break. I gave it to her, and she thanked me and said she forgot my gift at home. She never did bring it by, not to my house, not to school. And now, 39 years later, I can't remember her name. It took me years before I would ever take a chance at making a friend again.