I am not an immigrant, and neither were my parents. I am not a minority in either race or religion. I simply grew up in the country with few neighbors. But certain things were present or happened to me when I was young that made me feel isolated. I can name some of them: my overwhelming shyness, my dark skin, the age difference between me and my older brother, how I was treated by my dad – and there are others things I can guess at: I had no friends to speak of, I had a different way of looking at the world, I feared doing things wrong even after learning them a particular way. All this affected me as a child; they all had their particular side effects.
What feeling isolated did to me was push me further into myself, which only exacerbated my situation. My mom suffered from migraines, so my brother had to watch me while she was in bed. Rather than try to keep me from misbehaving, he would teach me whatever he was learning in school at the time (and what he enjoyed most). So, even though I could hardly read, I could do long division before I entered first grade. I could do complex algebra in the fourth grade. Later, when he entered college, I learned to love poetry based on a class he took. We talked about everything.
Once I learned to read, I read science fiction novels, my brother’s favorite and most readily available, and parapsychology books, my uncle’s favorite — he used to bring boxes of books to our house after he’d read them, and my parents allowed us to read whatever we liked. By reading in both these fields, my belief system grew from being in the middle of these two, highly separate, ways at looking at the world. This caused me to be even weirder to my “normal” classmates. I started to run with the wild kids, the kids my teachers at the time called “the hoodlums.” Lucky for me, I had no fear of physical danger. I’d do anything.
Eventually, my parents interfered and I was asked not to hang out with the hoodlums while at school. So, my isolation grew. I was an outcast at all levels. Even today, I talk about (and believe) as much about the parapsychological world of mystics and mysticism as I do the more practical world of math and physics. I noticed early on, though, that most of the time if I were with the parapsychological group and mentioned some correlation to natural physics, eyes would roll. Equally, if I were with a bunch of math and physics majors and brought up a mystical understanding, their eyes would roll.
I still live rather isolated from most people. I work from home, from a small office, where the closest I get to anyone is over the phone. My family is more bothered by my interest in being alone than I am. In all honesty, I don’t mind my isolation – it provides me time to think and write. I’m comfortable with the way I can join the two sides of myself, and have found that I’m not the only one with such disparate belief systems. There are more people like me than I thought while growing up. My friendship base is expanding, but I still appreciate my isolation.
Terry Persun writes in many genres, including historical fiction, mainstream, literary, and science fiction/fantasy. He is a Pushcart nominee. His latest poetry collection is “And Now This”. His novels, “Wolf’s Rite” and “Cathedral of Dreams” were ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalists in the science fiction category, and his novel “Sweet Song” won a Silver IPPY Award. His latest science fiction space opera is, “Hear No Evil”, his latest fantasy is “Doublesight”, his latest mainstream/literary novel is “Ten Months in Wonderland”.