All throughout my childhood, I lied about who I was. In first grade I knocked on the door of my mom’s painting studio to tell her I’d scored a home run in kickball. I sucked at kickball, but I was looking for attention so I kept inventing fake home runs. I was five but already starting to understand that my mom’s “Great job, Janey!” didn’t make up for my sneaking feeling that this kickball-champion girl was the praiseworthy one, not me.
In second grade I told my classmates, all churchgoing, that my family attended the First Presbyterian Baptist Church of Christ. In reality we were agnostic artists who sat on our lawn at my mom’s thirtieth birthday party while a band called the Weeds played wearing nothing but gold spray paint. (I did not appreciate the coolness of my actual life.) Of course the lie just reinforced my growing sense that I wasn’t acceptable the way I was.