It was time to choose an instrument
for my elementary school's music program.
I imagined myself a classical violinist,
my bow unabashedly caressing each string
with practiced precision.

I glued a cocky smile on my face
when I informed my music teacher
of my selection. Her lips pursed, stitched
up into a straight line as she told me
I might want to consider the clarinet instead.

Cursed to the woodwind section,
I played in the band for a while.
My father came to each concert, looking
crisp and stately in the stale school auditorium.
He would gush his congratulations and I wished
he wouldn't bother. He couldn't hear me,
obstructed by the bulbous melodies of the tubas
and the creaking wails of the string section.

I quit the band and tried my luck
at the geography bee instead. Maybe if I won,
just me, it might actually feel like winning.

That dream deflated, though,
when I muttered the word "Louisiana"
to my best friend as she blindly groped
for the name of that elusive southern state.
See, she'd never been south of the Mason-Dixon
but the judges didn't take that into account
when they disqualified me for cheating.

Soccer proved no better. I blocked
every goal. The coach told me
my foot must be made out of lead, I kicked
the ball so hard. I was ruthless on the field
but even when I was made team captain,
I still had to share the victory, sometimes.

I guess I wished to be unique- even
the brightest stars are still one of
trillions in the sky. And the ache of normalcy
weighed like an anchor, not grounding me
but dragging me under.

It might have been nice, though
not to care.