I am a migrant.
Always been, always will be. Even in my birth country, France. I never felt at home anywhere. Not ever. Not since I was 4. But even before then, I never new that was how I felt, because I didn’t know I was living in a body, in an embodied world. To me it was all happening, period. Not happening somewhere.
So maybe it’s because I’m autistic that I feel this way.
I always felt like I didn’t belong, like I was sent to the wrong adress, on the wrong planet, or at minima the wrong species. Total mismatch, in all details. Couldn’t understand why people moved their faces so much and in so many different nuances and combinations. Wouldn’t accept that some think it’s ok to not be ultimately polite and respectful of any other being, human or not, let alone bend the rules a little.
The first time I had to lie I hated myself, felt sullied and disgusting. Every time after that I hated my mom who had asked me to lie. I hated my dad that had to be lied to. I hated my brother and sister that I knew then had learnt to lie and were probably doing it daily. I hated my grandmother who wasn’t there to protect me from this whole experience, to save me from this new reality.
My grand-mother is the first person to have treated me like « a human
being ». By that I mean an other, equal, person. I was very young, and knew and was using a lot of words way above my age, some of them rightly ; and some of them not. Everybody used to laugh at me, which always got me very upset, and lost, as I had no idea why people were making fun of me. I had come to the point where my only understanding of this strange reaction was that they didn’t know the words I was using. My own familly. It was the only explanation that made sense, as I was picking those words from my fabourite reading : a «Quillet» Encyclopeadia. Many a volumes to get lost in for hours and hours, discovering new sonorities, exploring the nerves, bones and muscle network that form the human body… I was reading it, but never saw them do it, so I assumed they didn’t know the words I was using, and the sounds were strange to their ears, so they were mocking me. Close enough to reality.
And one day, my grand-mother, surprised by my use of one of those, asked
me if I knew what it meant. That specific one I didn’t. Why was I using it then ? I cherished the sound of it.
For the first time, someone wasn’t judging, but seeking understanding.
For the first time, someone was talking to me in a normal, adult voice, making normal, complex sentences.
For the first time, someone was behaving like a human being.
And so that day my grand-mother earnt the title of First Human Being.
I wasn’t sure of my own status. I knew people considered me – to some extent – like a human being, and I knew how I wanted to be treated, and how I was considering myself. But in the same time people were acting towards me like I wasn’t fully human, not fully an animal, not fully had feelings, and I couldn’t escape or ignore that reality. Their behaviour towards me was forming my reality as much as how I was feeling inside.
So I couldn’t be either human, animal, plant or robot…all that wasn’t giving me a «human being» status or label. I decided I was «something else», which I would put today as «alien».
When my grand-mother behaved towards me like she did, I recognised in that exchange the way I was feeling towards myself.
Despite their behaviour, people kept expressing that I was human.
And I myself was longing to be a human. The kind of human you read about in the encyclopeadias. The kind of human that are full of respect and intelligent, and can have rich and deep conversations with eachother.
So when my grand-mother walked – more like talked – into my life, I had a glimpse of that reality I was yearning for, and I hung all my hopes on her by giving her The Title.
So what were the Others, then ?
They were robots. They were so careless for others that they obviously had no feelings. As much I as could see, they weren’t thinking much, considering how wrong, or how automatically, they were doing most things. Never looking for meaning, never thinking things through, never trying something never done before.
With the exception of my mom. She wasn’t connecting much with me, but at least she tried sometimes. It was also obvious that she cared about how I felt, even if not constantly, plus, she was caring for me.
She wasn’t really human, as she was part of the Laughter, but she wasn’t fully a robot, as she was able to perceive and consider my feelings : she was my nanny.
I was a 4 years-old alien that nobody recognised as such, living my daily life, waiting for the postman to realise his/her mistake and come switch me back. Very often I would think about this other robot that had been sent to my alien familly, and wondering if life was as strange and uncomfortable for him/her as it was for me. And wondering how it would be to be back home. Trying to imagine a life that wouldn’t startle you every 5 minutes. A life where people felt familliar. A life where you weren’t a stranger.
I still quite often do.