Somewhere just over his left shoulder he could sense it. Not that he could see it, because how can you see a feeling? But that is where it was. Just there. Back, behind, and to the left. The feeling that he just didn't belong.
It had been there all along. Really, for as long as he could remember. It was as if something was always there reminding him that no matter what people said or how hard he tried he just wasn't supposed to be there. How long ago had he noticed it? Maybe he was six or seven. It was in grade school anyhow. Even then he was aware of it, though it was years later that he truly understood what it was.
Perhaps it was because of the adoption. That could be it. At birth he was given up for adoption by a twenty-two year old woman who had already bore two children before him. The first two she kept. This one however she did not. Perhaps that was it. He knew it could not have been easy for her, to spend nine months of her life with this human growing inside of her knowing that as soon as it forced its way out it would be taken away and she would not see it again. But still, she did it. She gave him away. He didn't think he had any sort of anger at this woman he did not know, but it is hard to be sure.
And his family. They took him in at the age of one month. Adopted him, as they were unable to have any more children after their first. They gave him a home, a sister, a life. When he was old enough to understand, they let him know he was adopted. That his mother had been unable to take care of him and that they chose him as their son. It was well done. He always knew and there was no guilt felt about it. He had been chosen. That was good that made him special. That made him different from all the rest. That made him... different.
Different doesn't belong. It's not the norm. Perhaps that had been chasing him all these years. But it wasn't just that. There were too many other things. Living in rural Oregon in a town of only fourteen thousand that had its own college, he was the son of a professor. The child of an educated couple who had views on life far different from those of the average person within the town. All of his friends would have been described as children of the blue collar worker. He was not. They had farms and cows and chores that involved shoveling stalls. He had to trim the laurel hedge and study. He didn't exactly blend in.
Maybe that was it too. Not a jock. Not a hick. Just a normal guy who had learned that girls could be more than just a piece of meat that you could take down to the creek and fuck before driving them home.
And then there was college. Almost normal there. Nobody really fit in at college, not at first. Everyone was feebly flapping their arms in a vague hope to fly as they struggled against this sudden onslaught of independence. At that point in time he didn't feel it. He could ignore the urge to look back to the left. But of course people settle into college, they find their purpose in college, they find their soul mates in college. He did not ever manage any of those.
He did find things he liked to do. And he did find a wife, for a while. But that was not right, it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps starting the marriage with the thought, "Should I really be doing this?" would have been a clear message to not continue on that trail, but he had become so used to just plugging ahead despite that nagging feeling that he did just that. Five years, gone. Wasted.
Will he ever figure out what it is? Will it always be there just beyond his peripheral vision? Possibly. He doesn't know. But it seems to be lesser now. A mere faint echo of what it once was. In the past year he has found something that feels more like home than anything ever has. When she is in his arms there is no doubt. But still there is that urge. There. Just to the side.