You start school on your fifth birthday in New Zealand. Or at least we did, back then. I did. There were lots of things I liked about school. I liked the walk to and from with my brother. I liked my uniform–a light blue cotton frock–that made me feel simultaneously special and just like everyone else. I liked the tiny little pies they served at lunch. But, when you’re a kid, you don’t get out much. School was a pretty big world, relatively. There were swarms of kids I didn’t know, and a lot of rapid fire new information. Like this, for example: if you take the letter c, and attach a line, a lowercase L, if you will, to its right side, you have yourself a lowercase d. Our teacher explained this one day, pointing at letters on the chalkboard; you could make a lot of letters by combining the shapes of other letters. And then she called on me. I think I must’ve been bungling up my alphabet. I remember her leaning over my page, serious and terrifying, with her round head of short, tight curls, and pinched, unimpressed face. You don’t fuck with the letter d. She asked me to explain and draw it for the class. And I froze. It’s my earliest memory of being struck dumb. I wanted to do the right thing, to have the right answer. But I was locked in my body, unable to speak or move, like some kind of fully lucid fear coma.