Alienated in high school, I learned to keep quiet. “How are you?” isn’t a question. Some people get angry when you try to make them think. If I couldn’t make friends, no sense in making enemies. Custom and convention are voluntary, says who? I suppose belonging is also voluntary, as though the desire to belong were accidental, not instinctive. I might have chosen to play along and acted as they expected. I don’t know why I could not do so. I have no evidence that intelligence, sensitivity, or heritage had anything to do with it. I must have been getting something I wanted. If so, I was a hypocrite, criticizing others for feeling superior because they knew how to repeat the phrases, drop the hints that I knew nothing about. We are all bound in, circumvented, defined but the nature of the individual is unknowable.