An introduction to my early life

I guess I’ll start with this. Hi, my name is Jason. Since the early 1990s I have also used the online name Zephyron in chatrooms, newsgroups, websites, etc., so I would actually like it if you called me Zeph (like Jeff, but with a Z instead of a J). I was born in the early spring of 1976, making me an Aries, in the small city of Lenoir, NC, to put it simply, I was a really odd child. That fact was pretty plain to see from the beginning.

To start with, I never cried for attention. I would cry if my diaper needed changing, or if I was hungry or had some other complaint, but if there was nothing bothering me, I was perfectly content to lie quietly and amuse myself. Some people were worried that this might mean I had some kind of development problem, but doctors found nothing wrong. That was just who I was as a baby.

I guess you could say I always had a strange sense of the good and bad in things. Shortly after I was born, my parents started to look for a new house. Up till that point, they had both lived in a single-wide mobile home set up on a plot of land that my father purchased from his father. They of course took me with them to look at homes and the realtor remarked how very well behaved I was, that is until they went to one house in particular. For some reason, the moment they pulled into the driveway, I started screaming like I was on fire. Nothing would console me. My mother tried to carry me into the house to continue the viewing but the longer we were there, the harder I cried. Finally, my parents told the realtor that there must be something seriously wrong and that they would have to reschedule. They got in the car and backed out of the driveway and as soon as the car was on pavement again, I settled down. Later my parents were just curious and looked into that same house later while still looking for new homes and apparently the previous owner died in the house under unusual circumstances. I have no idea what they were, I was just a baby and this whole story was told to me by my parents, so take it with a grain of salt.

The terrible two’s

My mother smoked cigarettes. The only time she gave them up was when she was pregnant with me. When I was a toddler and just learning to walk and talk, I took her pack of cigarettes and threw them out the window into the yard to try to get them away from her. She was upset, but more by the fact that she left them where I could get to them than by what I did with them. I wish she had taken the hint.

Boy meets public education

When my mother took me to get started in public school, there was an interview with a social worker so they could determine if you were ready for mainstream public education. During that interview, the social worker went down the list: name, age, sex, race… and when that one came up, I chimed in with “Human???” (with a really confused expression). Yeah, this was not the typical answer you get from a preschooler in rural North Carolina. I blame too much access to UNC-TV public television.

At one point you are taken outside of your parent’s view so that they can ask you questions and they are sure the parents aren’t coaching you. She asked me the usual things like if I knew my parents’ names, my address, the current date. At some point, she asked what day I was born on, and I told her I didn’t know. After we went back into the area where my mother was waiting and she heard this, she immediately asked me for my date of birth, and I replied with the correct answer. The social worker looked at me very confused and asked, “Why didn’t you say that when I asked what day you were born on?” My answer was, “You didn’t ask my date of birth, you asked what DAY I was born on, and I have no idea what day of the week I was born on.”

This should have been a warning sign to everyone around that the shit done hit the fan. I was not your typical rural NC child from day one, and it just kept getting stranger from there.

The sweet child of summer

I’ll skip over a great deal and go to the day I had my first kiss from someone who was not a member of my family. I was 5 and I was visiting the home of our former neighbors (we moved a few months before to be closer to school and my parents’ work). The neighbor’s son, who was almost a year older than me took me to the backyard and kissed me, full on the lips, open mouth, no tongue, but we definitely swapped some spit. I wasn’t happy or sad or anything… it was just a kiss and it was nice and I liked it. Of course, when asked what I did that day with the neighbor’s little boy, I was completely honest because I didn’t see anything wrong with what happened. My mother panicked, called the boy’s mother and told her what had happened and that she should have a talk with him. At the time, I didn’t think it was about us both being boys, but my being so young and him being older and that she felt he had taken advantage of my naiveté. There was no discussion of kissing, but that was when my parents decided to explain sexual reproduction to me; not with some euphonism of cabbages or storks, but with real facts about how sexual reproduction works. AT FIVE YEARS OLD. I’m not complaining, just explaining that even at that age, I understood the biological processes of sex and the differences between males and females and how all the equipment worked. My parents, while not highly educated, knew that I was exceptionally bright, and they didn’t want me to get the wrong information from someone else.

School daze

Flash forwards a year or so to first grade and kids playing kissing games when no one was looking, and I kissed a lot of girls but found it strange that the girls didn’t kiss the other girls and the guys didn’t kiss the other guys. When I asked, I was just told it doesn’t work that way. I knew otherwise.

It was a fun thing to do and why should only boys kiss girls. I thought it was ridiculous and just stopped playing those games because it just didn’t feel right to me.

Tragedy and loss

At this point, something really bad happens. When I was about 7-8 years old, I had a favorite uncle. He was a Vietnam veteran and the youngest of my father’s siblings. My dad inherited the family home when my grandfather died (when I was about 5) and he and my uncle did some reworking and got the place reasonably modernized (the side porch also contained an old-fashioned outhouse). My uncle lived there for free and just paid for the utilities.

One day while I was riding with my dad in his truck, I got this very strange feeling and told him that I thought someone we were close to was going to die very soon: in the next week or so. He thought it odd but brushed it off as one of those weird things that kids say sometimes. That was on Thursday. The following Tuesday, we are out in his truck again and he thinks there’s time to go visit his brother, my uncle, and I was happy to do just that.

We arrived at the house and saw his car in the driveway as usual. My dad honked the horn of his truck as we pulled to a stop to announce our presence. Normally my uncle would have been yelling inside the house or running to the door to greet us if he were home, and since his car was there, we assumed he was as well. Part of the upgrades to the home was a shower stall and full bathroom in the largest bedroom and my dad surmised that at this time in the morning, he might be in the shower and couldn’t hear us, so since it was actually my dad’s house, we checked the door and it was unlocked, so we let ourselves in. We called to my uncle and got no response. We couldn’t hear the shower running, so we went towards the bedroom door. I was right beside/behind my dad as he swung the door open to find where my uncle had placed a rifle barrel to the roof of his mouth and pulled the trigger.

My dad grabbed me and ran outside and got on his knees, praying to God that what he just saw was an illusion or anything other than what it was. When he regained his composure a bit, he looked at me and said, “You didn’t see anything, did you?” and me being the people pleaser that I am of course felt the mood and told him no. He grabbed me and took me to the neighbor’s house and asked that they look after me for a little while. I went into the living room and started to watch TV. I knew I would never see my uncle again and I cried. Not the kind of squalling you would expect from a child of that age in that situation, but true tears of mourning and loss. I was alone, but coping with the situation far better than anyone else did it would seem. The next few hours were a blur… I was mostly left to myself in the living room, watching TV while police and ambulances and such did what they needed to do about 50 yards down the road.

Back then and especially in my family, there was no such thing as mental health clinics or grief counselors; you were either perfectly sane, or you were locked up in the state mental institution. So, I dealt with this as best I could. Years later after talking with a therapist, she determined that by some miracle, at that age, I was intelligent enough to understand the concept of death and my own mortality and was able to accept it as simply being a part of the way the world worked. I had grieved over the loss, and went through all the stages of grief all on my own. She also remarked that this sort of trauma usually created people with severe mental disorders and she did a lot of testing to make sure that I wasn’t suffering from anything other than the usual PTSD of such a thing. I wasn’t psychotic, I didn’t want to hurt other people or animals (just the opposite really cause I was generally the kid that felt sorry for the ants when other kids were stepping on their anthills).

That is a broad description of my early childhood. There are many more stories from that time I might go into later, but this should give you a good idea of where I started out. More to come later, I hope.

Until next time,

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