Through the Looking Glass

D. J. Cools

6/20/20161 min read

I had a strange upbringing.

An isolated a farmhouse miles from anywhere and homeschooling from Kindergarten through high school, eight siblings and over 100 cousins, odd restrictions (like counting the mileage on the odometer when I took the car somewhere) and a deep distrust of society. I learned about the world as if I were going through newspaper archives in a vault or watching someone else’s old home movies—it was intensely interesting, but the experiences were never mine. Once I left home it was clear I was pretty late to the game.

I don’t pity my kid self. There was love and tenderness in my family. There were good books on the shelves and plenty of time for playing in the dirt and building tree houses and slipping away by myself. As I have scrambled to catch up socially, educationally, spiritually—or maybe not catch up exactly, but at least become functional and healthy—I remind myself that I was made and shaped by all of this. Whatever all of this is.

I pity my now-self a bit more. This adult is not as resilient and hopeful and awesome as his kid version. At least, it doesn’t feel like it. This adult will make it, but he needs a crutch too often. Drawing and writing help me organize my insides, cut through the fog, get at the roots of things.