“I just want to belong…” Have you ever thought that? Okay, maybe that wasn’t the specific thought. You’re at work, in the break room, sitting along, eating your lunch and a group comes in laughing and chatting and you feel a tug, inside. Like you want to be a part of that. Or maybe, you know that group and you want to be as far away as possible.

Wanting to be a part of a group probably began when I was young, around 4th or 5th grade, when life around me, in my household was slowly falling apart. I didn’t know that I needed to be with others who’s parents were in a divorce, or that had a step-mom, or didn’t know how to relate to the mom they didn’t live with anymore. I wanted to connect and I didn’t know how. I felt like an outsider all of the time.

In high school, I joined the local junior police cadets, a part of the boy scouts, because I wanted to be a police officer. I felt a part of, sometimes, and awkward and out of place at other times.

I also joined the theater classes. Stagecraft they called it, the back stage part of theater – lights, sounds, sets and costumes. That was the first time in a long time I felt like I’d found a group I wanted to be a part of – the police thing was fun, but it required a lot of work, and I was in the public eye. In theater, I was in the dark, in the back, unseen and important at the same time. Also, most of the students in theater, grades nine through twelve, were misfits, like I felt. There was Joey, a punk rock kid, and Desire, the gypsy. Rick, a red-headed actor, and the techies. I loved the techies. I loved creating illusion out of nothing on stage. We recreated the hospital ward from One Flew Over A Cuckoo’s Nest, and the farmhouse in Oklahoma. I had useful skills in that world and I felt valued and important.

The best part of that brief moment in time was the belonging. I could be me. I didn’t have to pretend with those people, and they liked me as I was. After the ninth grade, it was another long stretch before I belonged to a small group of people again.