For the most part, I’m good with the concept that I’m clueless about nearly everything. Just think of all the things there are to know. There’s no way I can build a computer or speak Chinese. And I was taught you don’t need to fake it when you’re uncertain. If I asked my mom a question for which she didn’t have the answer, she wouldn’t make something up to quell my interest. She’d say, “I don’t know. Let’s look it up when we get home.” I mean, we never actually looked it up, because we had more important things to do, but the sentiment was there.
Still though, I have moments when I am absolutely sure of something. My brain is like a whirring fan and it can convince me that, because it’s always buzzing, I’ve landed on the right side of a question. But sometimes, lots of times, I’m smacked upside the head with the truth.
Like at the one-night sleepover session of a week-long day camp I attended as a kid. The counselors had set up a bunch of tents and the girls thought it would be super fun to have a seance. I was extra cool back then, so it didn’t really matter if the girls liked me. Just kidding, I was not cool at all and it was my final chance of the week to become an insider. I joined in, even though I thought it was nonsense. They went around the circle and asked who we should try to reach. I, in an overzealous effort to engage, made a suggestion—Celine Dion. Everyone loved her (“It’s All Coming Back To Me” was topping the charts around then) and I’d recently heard about her death on the radio. Everyone agreed she would be the perfect person to contact. Spoiler—we didn’t make a connection. Not even a fluttering flashlight. The girls were very disappointed. Then the wind rustled and we all got scared and went to bed.
It wasn’t until the next day that I realized it was Selena who had died, not Celine Dion. I’ve always blamed myself for our wasted adolescent magic. And it was all because I was sure of the babble my brain had created—both about the wrong dead girl and about my crucial need to connect with these strangers. Plus everyone turned into lizards.