5.) The perfect hiding spot.
I grew up in a 3 bedroom brick bungalow in a suburb 20 minutes outside of the city. I was the youngest of three and my older brother and sister weren't very fond of me most days.
My sister, 7 years older, was always having to watch after me and my brother (3 years older). And by the time I was old enough for memories to start to stick forever, she was beyond tired of us. Especially me.
My sister pretty much hated me.
I remember times she would make me kneel on the linoleum floor of the pantry off the kitchen because I didn't want to wash the dishes she was supposed to wash. Or because I asked one too many questions. Or because I simply existed. And, on the rare occasion I was ballsy enough to try to fight the kneeling, it would result in an all out war of swear words and degrading comments as she chased me and forced me into the pantry and onto my knees for what seemed like hours.
While my brother didn't chase me around belittling and degrading me, he did try to escape from me when I followed him to the playground to see if I could talk him into letting me play baseball or soccer with him and his friends. He never let me and would talk me into leaving them alone. Sometimes I would stay nearby in another area of the playground or parking lot. Sometimes I would just leave all together and find my own friends to play with.
One time when I was playing nearby on my bike, another older kid, a boy, came near me. I don't remember his name but I do remember that all of the kids made fun of him because he was retarded or something. It didn't bother me that he was near me and I wasn't about to tease him, but he did end up circling in around me so much that the metal petal of his bike ended up crashing into my naked calf resulting in me crying out as the blood gushed from my leg. My brother immediately came to me and told the kid to leave, swearing at him and degrading him. I felt awful for the kid; even then I knew he didn't mean to hurt me. But it made me feel good that my brother cared when push came to shove.
Unlike my sister.
When we were told to stay near the house (this is back in the day when you could go wherever as long as you were home when the street lights came on) and my brother occupied the TV and my sister was being her normal bitchy self, I often spent time under the front porch of the house.
It was the perfect secret hiding spot. Everyone else was too big to fit between the narrow open space of the concrete slabs that blocked either side of the under porch area. And, specifically, the area directly under the front steps leading up to the front porch of the house, where it was so dark and dirty, where spiderwebs formed clouds.
It was here where I found peace. It was here that I could escape the verbal abuse from my sister. It was here where I kept a lock box of items near and dear to me. Items like a favorite pen, a favorite cassette, a small toy, a book, and a photo of my family with my sister's face scratched out.
And then, one day, my world came crashing in when my mom demanded to know why my sister's face was scratched out of the picture, and my secret hiding spot was no more.
I think that was the day an introvert was born.