On Belonging

Dear Kimmy,

Know this: You will never fit in.

Take heart: This is good. Let me explain.

You will grow up, youngest of three, the only girl, an oddball, left-handed.

You will be called from your room where you spend your days reading to fill in your brothers’ pick up games of basketball, football, baseball. But only when they need a body to fill out a team. You will score touchdowns, catch balls for outs at first base, sink layups.

Yet, you will not fit in. So, explore. Search for your place.

You will choose a university nine hours away from home. You, the out-of-stater, will eschew sorority life and major in journalism. Instead of frat parties, you will spend chilly fall weekends camping at the mouth of a cave waiting for bats to emerge. The thing you remember from that weekend will be the rush of bats flying overhead.

Still, you will not fit in. But don’t settle.

You will go to Ft. Lauderdale on spring break and meet a man. You will invite him to go for a run on the beach because he his wearing Brooks athletic shoes. The next year, the two of you will vacation in Acapulco and go snorkeling for the first time. You will think there’s nothing better than breathing underwater. The two of you, an unmarried couple, will buy a week in a timeshare condominium. A year after college graduation, spot on, according to society’s timeline, you will marry your first love and honeymoon in Hawaii, where you will buy another week of timeshare.

You will be married, just like you’re supposed to, but something will still feel off. There will be dark days, disconnected days. Listen to your body.

After 11 years of marriage, no kids, you and your husband will sell your house and all your belongings and move to Hawaii. You will join an outrigger canoe club. On a three-day paddling adventure, you will witness the full moon rise and moments later the sun set—and be rewarded with the first green flash of your life.

You’ll start to feel alive in a new way. And, yet, you’re a newcomer, a transplant. A part of you will feel like a wannabe Hawaiian. You really don’t belong. But the place is so beautiful.

Time will pass as regular as clouds. You will say yes to helping monitor endangered seals and their newly born pups. Yes to surveying ducks and geese found nowhere else in the world. Yes to counting the nests of almost a million albatross. You will spend a month on a research vessel plying the waters of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, as a shower of meteors striates the night sky. You will come to know the fresh ocean scent of albatross just arrived from the sea.

One day, you will wake up and realize: this is your place. And fitting in won’t matter anymore.



Flash Fiction by Kim Rogers

Kim Steutermann Rogers is a writer who lives on Kauai with her husband and dog. You can read more of her work at www.kimsrogers.com.