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Back in middle school, I was in home school. This took the form of being handed history books and a single math textbook, and being told to read them. I was never asked about much aside from whether or not I understood ratios, and my mother was sick, out of the house, sleeping a lot, or some combination of the above and some other things.

I had a single other close friend on the block: an older woman named Janine, who had me over for tea, would show me her new natural history items and art acquisitions, and her garden. She was a kind, stable auntly sort of person who'd bought a house at the end of the block long since left empty by the death (via old age) of the former resident. We'd talk about all sorts of things, and then I'd go home, and I'd pretend to be a college student to the people in my small writing communities.

The rest of the block cycled: my neighborhood was a low income one full of immigrants, which was great for food, but terrible for maintaining lasting friendships. People would move in for 2-3 years, get settled, and move out of there for safer environs that didn't have crack addicts selling themselves on the street corners. As a result, I either hung out in the back yard of the family house, or inside, reading. Or I'd take the bus to the library.

And right about that time, I was given one of my first computers, and, devoid of anything else more exciting than the library, I began to visit E2 for the first time. I played text-based roleplaying games in fantasy worlds, Pern, and some World of Darkness stuff. I devoured the Jargon File. I stayed up late watching Star Trek reruns on a tiny TV.

That was pretty much my life for 3-4 years. Absent parental guidelines, and being disinterested in shenanigans, I was left alone with an Internet connection and an increasingly night-oriented schedule. I'd fail to go outside for entire weeks, only to creep out at 4am and sit on the front stoop, listening to the noises of the neighborhood.

I think about this occasionally, but I've thought about it a lot now as I'm required to mostly be shut in for the good of us all during the COVID-19 pandemic. I go out, and I sit with my quarantine pod at another house, about 1-2 times a week. I take the occasional drive so I see the sky and don't go completely stir crazy. Otherwise, I sit inside. I work on my computer: I recreate on my computer. I'm delving increasingly into my library, glad for something that isn't staring at my computer. I'm working on some wire-wrapping projects, some more successful than others.

Some days, I sit, and I look out of my bedroom window, and middle school me doesn't feel terribly far away.