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I did not approach people; people did not approach me.

That was the way of life in high school for the geeks, the freaks, the outcasts. In the old Indian caste system there was a group who fell below any caste. All ranked above them, whether priests or peasants, looked upon them with scorn. They were the Untouchables, and as their name suggests none outside of their miserable ranks would so much as touch them.

When cloistered within the halls of high school that is often how I feel. Untouchable, even among friends, even among fellow intellectuals traveling the darker paths of life. Untouchable, separated from those around me by my choices, by my very nature that has marked me from birth.

We had a drill in Sociology last week: Label Yourself. Simple enough instructions, but hard to follow. So many labels came to mind for myself. The obvious attributes first. Female. Teenager. White. And then those not so obvious to those unfamiliar with me. Atheist. Bisexual.

But these are only the labels that I would give myself, which have little in common with those I’ve earned from others throughout the years. Cynic. Loner. Deviant. Freak. Untouchable.

I remember, back in far more idealistic years when I was just entering high school, I wondered what I would be like when I finally crossed the stage and took my diploma. That tiny piece of paper which means so much, which will finish this chapter of my life. But now I am beyond such wondering, for I have come to know that person too well.

I look at her from outside myself and almost do not recognize her. I cannot take her measure through her friends or interactions. She is isolated, and has little meaningful contact with anyone outside the security of her little circle. But even those within it cannot know her.

Watching this girl, I see her forever on the outside, she in turn watching her own companions. She sees their close bonds, shared memories and values bringing them closer than she can even understand. Even in shared triumph, she remains apart, outside of the warmth of victory. As one old acquaintance so kindly put it, she is not the “huggable” type.

She holds herself apart from this contact, and I see her convince herself that she in fact wants it this way. She cannot change her nature, it is ingrained in her and it has made her observe the world rather than live within it. Those who are polite refer to these tendencies of hers as “inhibitions.” Those who are not call her “cold” or even “frigid.”

This is her choice, and in the end, it is my life. Perhaps, looking inside, there is some regret, some remorse for what could be. But what other way is there for such as me, for one who remains untouchable?

This piece appears on two other places on the internet; my soon to be deleted diary at http://www.freeopendiary.com/entrylist.asp?authorcode=A415773 and my personal archive at http://www.wam.umd.edu/~amsalter/writing.html.

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