Some memories feel more like stories that someone else is telling me about myself where I am more of an outsider. Others put me right in the moment that they happened just like it was yesterday, as the saying goes. Sometimes listening to the right music brings something back (Flood Plains by Sara Groves for some reason is incredibly nostalgic). Maybe sharing pieces of my story helps someone else.
the car ride (age 4)
A little girl sits quietly, staring out the car window, watching as landscapes zoom by. She imagines super heroes in battle with villains on the side of the road. She’s caught up in her own little world. She closes her eyes and feels the sunlight on her cheeks. Life is good here–in this moment. She doesn’t want to miss the chance to soak it in.
Life isn’t scary, but scary’s just around the corner. Yet for now, this moment is all that matters. This moment is where I want to be forever.
the hiding place (age 5-8)
This is a dark place, but it’s safe here away from the man who abused me before I even knew what that meant. Hiding in small spaces and going unnoticed is this little girl’s super power. As long as she’s quiet and in that quiet a stone wall–impenetrable–nothing can hurt her.
Because escape is not so far away where heroes save the day and bad guys lose. In this world far away, they don’t take advantage of little girls.
the social clues (age 9-13)
The friends who once were friends now whisper about boys and she’s at a loss in this strange new world where it’s all about fitting in. All she ever wanted was a friend who understood her and her wild imagination. She retreats to the fiction world of the local library–consuming practically the entire children’s section. Nothing can save her socially. She’s awkward but genuine, far too hard on herself because no one seems to appreciate the awkwardness and kindness anymore. It doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.
Of course, this pattern of awkwardness and no friends will continue until college for the most part when she finds her “people.” She at least make it through high school with a couple close friends who get her and love her for who she is. (Don’t lose those kinds of friends, kid. You’re going to need them.)
working class (22-25)
Buried in work, the once little girl has to navigate this world by imagining herself happy one day though it seems inevitable. Happy maybe isn’t that demanding overly stressful, but meaningful job or the demanding, clingy boyfriend who she knows she’s not attracted to.
Nobody ever tells you how exhausting full-time work is socially. Many of my co-workers during this period were like a second family, though. I learned my compliance would lead to robotic treatment by my bosses. I lost my sense of who I was (did I ever have that?) but I’ll find myself again.
Present Day (25)
This year has been one hell of a year. I’ve moved more towards my calling by starting grad school. I’m at my happiest, researching, writing, engaging in deep conversations, becoming more of an activist, loving people better. Becoming…gayer. I hope 25 years from this moment I’ll look back on the moments I’m currently living out and that I’ll remember. I hope that I remember life is a journey through valleys and mountains. I hope I remember there is beauty in both of these and that I let nothing hold me back.