(I have been doing a word exercise–750 words. As always thanks Thom for the words. All the 3WW’s below this are fragments or outline type chapters from Space Chick) This is my article on Non Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD) that sort of inspired my memoir.
It was summer orientation before my freshman year at that bucolic campus on the North Shore of Long Island. Post wasn’t known for its academics. if it had been I wouldn’t have gotten in.
Five curvy miles from my parents house, almost in the same public school district, they let me have a dorm room so I could have the “full college experience.” My cousin had graduated the year before and he had talked my parents into letting me live in the dorms.
I had been corresponding with the girl who was to be my roommate. She was a cheerleader. I was a hippie freak. She had long dark brown hair she ironed every night. I had longish chestnut hair that frizzed everywhere it seemed. Still people, to my constant amazement, loved my hair.
I knew because hordes of men in the city, construction workers and average guys would scream things out about my hair, face, clothes, body. In 1968, you didn’t have to wonder if you were pretty or not. Guys would just tell you. I hated it yet couldn’t imagine being one of the girls nobody said anything to.
I’m sure Melanie was shouted out to. If she ever went to the city without the protective arms of her quarterback boyfriend.
I’m sure I was the last person Melanie wanted for a roommate. We had bought matching blue bedspreads, curtains and other things for the room. The bathrooms were large and communal.
Freshman girls had a 10:30 curfew on weekdays and a 1:00AM curfew on weekends. It was supposed to be for our safety. At orientation they explained the rules. There was a Resident Assistant (RA) on each floor. She and she alone would determine if we were doing everything right.
There was a demerit system. You could get demerits for not making your bed by 9AM, for not wearing shoes in your room, for not wearing a skirt to dinner, for being sloppy, and it would turn out just for being me.
She was judge, jury and it turned out, wannabe executioner. Lois the RA was German.
She took an immediate like to Melanie. Everything about Melanie screamed “affluent, good girl, fun, easy.” Everything about me screamed “rule breaker, bad, maybe stupid, possibly poor but those clothes she wears….” I wanted to be like Melanie, god did I want to be.
Orientation was more fun than I expected it to be. When I was buying my books an older boy, much older stared then smiled at me. I was scared to smile back but I did.
Melanie and I made some sort of truce during orientation. I wanted her to like me and did everything in my power to make myself likable.
But the truth was most girls didn’t like me. I had a few girlfriends but most people who talked to me were boys.
We went home for the rest of the summer. It was the summer of the Chicago Convention. Vile. Horrible. My parents had practically locked me in the house so I wouldn’t go with friends I had made earlier that summer. It was for my own safety my parents assured me. I was angry at them but secretly glad I wasn’t there. Yet I should have been. It was so conflicting. For the rest of her life, my mother a non-crier, would cry whenever she saw anything about the Chicago Convention. “You could have been killed. Or worse.” Worse meaning brain damage. If they had only known how damaged my seemingly good brain really was.
I don’t know how to talk about non verbal learning disorder in this memoir. I can only show what I was like and maybe at the end of the book put in a chapter that explains how my behavior, in each chapter, was infuenced by NLD. I don’t know.
The rest of the summer was spent getting ready for school. My mother and I went to Floyd’s a discount store near our house and spent $40 on health and beauty aids as they were just beginning to be called. It seemed like a fortune to me then. We filled up two giant shopping bags.
We went to Loehmanns and bought clothes my mother liked. Fortunately my mother had good taste, and was proud of my figure. I knew most girls I would like would basically wear bell bottoms with cotton peasant blouses. I could get the bell bottoms from my parents store along with an endless variety of tee shirts. But I was into dressing up. I wasn’t the bell bottom kind of hippie but the Indian print dress type. I managed to make all the clothes my mother bought at Loehmann’s into some sort of hippie atire by pairing dresses with pants and/or putting a Mexican rope belt on.
I managed to make myself stand out.
Finally school began. My parents drove me and I couldn’t wait until they left. They stayed and stayed. Finally just before nightfall they left. I kissed them good bye. Walked out of the room and began to make myself a life.