Class Individual

One of the honors of which I am most proud is my high school yearbook award as Class Individual.

I was weird.

I used to wear purple suits, giant hoop earrings (in both ears, not just the left one), plaid MC Hammer crotch pants, used-car-salesman jackets, mismatched shoes, African power medallions, headbands fashioned out of used cumberbuns, eye shadow on one eye, bandannas on my wrists and ankles, homemade necklaces, nail polish, flip-top sunglasses in the nighttime…

To put it mildly, I was not reflective of the norms of middle-class Connecticut.

Still, I was accepted – “That’s just Cliff being Cliff” – they would say. The ultimate compliment.

In my mind, I wasn’t weird enough. Rules never made sense to me: the bells between classes, bringing your towel to Gym twice a week, assigned lunch seats, walking on the right side of the hallway.

Ah yes, order and efficiency. That’s it. That’s what the painted lines in the road are all about.

You know something? That weirdo maniac hasn’t gone anywhere.

To this day, on the way to pick up my kids, I get the urge to veer outside of the lines. Don’t you? To drive across the median, honk the horn and shout out the open windows… to be dangerously alive and to question the rules.

There’s a scream that’s in my belly that will never go away, a wolf’s howl that comes out when the lines get too straight or go on for too long.

I will always embrace the misfits and celebrate the outliers. I will always find a reason to wiggle my legs a little bit during roll call.

What can I say?

That’s just Cliff being Cliff.

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