April 20, or 4/20 as the cool kids like to call it, is that single day of the year when I am reminded, again and again, just what a squirrel I really am. For the record, a squirrel, in my book, is a person who, while not sheltered, hasn’t really participated in the, um, well, milestones of most normal, red blooded Americans. I am most definitively a squirrel.
I have never smoked pot, weed, marijuana. I was about 40 years old before I realized that “Mary Jane” is just one of its many euphemisms. I still mistake the smell of it for that cute little black and white stripped critter that roams in the woods and helps Snow White hang her laundry.
I am guileless. Without known guile. Guile free, yo.
Like Tina Fey, I remained a virgin until my mid-20s. And full disclosure, I can count the men I’ve slept with on one finger.
I was that kid in high school that when her friends were hanging out swigging berry flavored wine coolers with the cross country team, I was crying in the front seat of my car, alone, wondering why I didn’t find any of it fun. Nothing. Not a bit. I didn’t get any of it. It was all lost on me. Sigh.
For a long time I felt misplaced because of these things. Different than, separated from my peers. No one would ever mistake me for cool. Some of the time, like when I sat in that car, alone in the dark in 1986, I felt pangs about that. Most of the time, I didn’t. I was more focused on the certainty that when I achieved the next milestone, be it junior high, high school, or college, life would get better. I would find my people.
Eventually, I did find my people, but that didn’t happen until I stopped fighting my nature. I’m a squirrel. There is no shame in that particular game. I embrace it now. Fully. Those folks who really know me and love me are charmed by it. If they aren’t, pffft, their disdain no longer phases me.
At this stage in my life, I embrace those odd traits that make me me. I no longer feel less than or apart from others that are different than myself. I don’t mind never having traveled in the fast lane, as the slow lane has always been more my speed.
It’s cool here, in the slow lane. I get to stop when I want and look at the clouds or admire a tulip on a spring day. I belt out really bad pop songs when I’m in the car, alone or with my kiddos. I don’t worry about being judged anymore. Who’s got time to be judged anyway?
I’ve claimed my inner squirrel and am proud of that. Squirrels of the world unite! And if you’re not a squirrel, embrace whomever you might be — even if you’re a skunk (see what I did there?)