I've been going back over the events of the past couple of days, trying to understand my own reactions. Jim was right. I was letting Alec push all my buttons, but the question is why. Perhaps it had something to do with what Professor Buckner said. It really bothered me at first, though I certainly wasn't willing to allow anyone else to see that. He said that Alec reminded him of me when I first came to Rainier and I couldn't help but ask myself if that was how I was perceived, and even if those perceptions have truly changed in all the years that I have been here. They say you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and his words made me acknowledge what that first impression had been like.
I'd like to think that I wasn't nearly as bad as Alec. I've been trying to see the differences where everyone else has been too busy trying to see the similarities... and the similarities are obvious enough, from our ages, to our failed attempts to conquer our phobias and -as much as it pains me to acknowledge it- to some serious attitude problems, however the differences are just as obvious.
For starters Alec is far younger than I was. He is fourteen, I was sixteen, and those two years represent a significant difference. Also, while we didn't really get a chance to talk about it, I got the feeling that our childhood experiences were very different. I all but raised myself, I learned to duck at an early age -both the bullies and Naomi's boyfriends-, I learned to fend for myself during my mother's frequent absences, and I learned to fit in as best I could wherever I was. Jim believes I chose to become an anthropologist, but the truth is that -even though there may have been an element of destiny in the path that brought me into his life- anthropology chose me. All my life I've been an outsider, always looking in and trying to convince myself that I didn't want to belong. By the time I was sixteen I had done more "observing" than most anthropologists do by the time they are forty. I had no choice. To be able to go home you first need to have a home.
In that sense Alec is certainly not like me at all. Sure, as a young boy he probably felt isolated from his peers, but I believe that that led him to a very sheltered lifestyle. I have seen that cycle before. A child is bright to the point of not fitting in, he seeks an escape into a world of his own through books and learning, but in the end that only serves to reinforce the difference and isolate him even more... and then parents and teachers get involved. They are proud of the child's accomplishments and they encourage him to study even harder, to achieve even more. I never had that problem, Naomi's care-free lifestyle -and having to switch schools every three months- at least served to keep that from happening to me, but I can easily picture Alec's parents, his teachers. They helped mold him into an intellectual genius, but they never taught him to be a kid... luckily he was smart enough to recognize the problem.
In the end I think that may be the ultimate difference between the two of us. He has decided to leave Rainier to enjoy what is left of his childhood, I came here trying to get away from mine.