A long time ago, I knew a girl who was eccentric. Her name was Jan. As with most eccentrics, she always did her own thing, and it started early. When she was 10 and I was eight, she got her ear pierced. Yeah, just one. Often other girls would look at her one earring and their faces would get screwed up before they asked horrified, “Why did you only get one ear pieced?!” To which Jan would deadpan reply, “Arr.” Sometimes she would flick her earlobe as she said it.
Being her close friend, I also asked her about it and if it had hurt so much she couldn’t do the other one. I hadn’t been around at the time it was pierced, but in those days, it was usually a barbaric procedure performed by another kid with a needle, a cork, a piece of ice and maybe some rubbing alcohol if there happened to be some in the house. Despite the presence of the ice, girls usually whimpered quite a bit when the needle went in. I doubt Jan whimpered. That wasn’t her style. She told me she always wanted just one ear pierced because deep down she was a pirate and didn’t want anyone to forget it. I never did.
On some vague level, I understood she was wise beyond her age. I’m not sure exactly what brought about this wisdom. It doesn’t appear to be her parents. They were very close friends of my parents, and great as they were, there never seemed to be anything about them that stood out as exceptionally wise. Jan was simply an anomaly among her peers. She was funny and original and had an innate understanding of people. She also didn’t suffer fools, and fools to her were the people who lived their lives at the whim of others, at the tyranny of societal pressure. None for Jan thanks, and she often used her tongue as a humorous sword to fend it off and which often made those on the receiving end a joke. In particular were the attacks from other females who could not stand that she was her own person. And because she was completely unruffled by what others thought, she was a threat to them. But I never once saw her cry or whine about it. She just seemed to accept there were foolish people in the world who would go along with others and obliterate who they were.
But something finally broke Jan. Something happened, and I’m not sure what. Maybe society’s pressure finally taking its toll? Could be. I’ve speculated a lot over the years. Whatever it was, it put her normally sunny self into despair, because three weeks before her 18th birthday, she killed herself. And everyone was shocked. Her parents never got over it. And I still grieve it and most of all on her birthday, which is today.
It’s like I’m stuck in a time warp, and I keep wanting her story to change. But it can’t. It never will, and I hate it. She was the person who brought light into a room and made people see things about it they never had. What more could she have done?
One of these days I may consign her to the past, but for now, I write about her every year on this day, which is also the day I started this crazy place as a sort of backhanded tribute to her. She would have loved it and goaded me out of any bouts of circumspection, which I’ve had all day today and almost didn’t post. It seemed embarrassing to think I’ve done this for four years. Then I thought of Jan, and here I am.