This is me.
Or, was me. About 20 years ago (sheesh! has it really been that long?). This is kind of one of my favorite pictures of myself. Just look at that girl. There is something refreshingly unpretentious about her. Despite the tortoise shell glasses and doily dress and teased bangs, she is still smiling. She has no idea just how ridiculous she looks.
About the time this photo was taken, my dad gathered up all of the poetry I had written and compiled it into a 3-ring binder. He then slipped this photograph in the cover and gave it to my grandparents for Christmas. I, as you can imagine, was flattered. My poetry, which consisted mostly of prosaic rhymes like "Dad is rad," was finally getting the recognition it deserved.
My grandparents kept that binder of poetry on display at their house for years - long after I had transitioned to contact lenses and tamed my hairstyle. And, as I entered junior high school, I was no longer flattered by that pesky collection of rhymes. Poetry extolling just how radical my dad was became something of a liability. My older, beautiful cousin had started writing poetry, too. Only her poems were melancholy and troubled and full of angst. I desperately wanted to be like her.
We live the first decade of our lives spontaneously, brilliantly. We spend the next trying to hide ourselves. And then, if we are wise, as we enter adulthood we embrace the fact that we are who we are, despite our best efforts to prove otherwise. No matter how quick we may be, we find we can't run away from ourselves. We realize that life isn't so much about becoming someone, as it is retaining who we are.
I just read and thoroughly enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. In it, a character muses: "We are all prisoners of our own destiny, must confront it with the knowledge that there is no way out and, in our epilogue, must be the person we have always been deep inside, regardless of any illusions we may have nurtured in our lifetime."
This sentiment resonated with me - although I'm not sure I love the word "prisoners." I rather see that inner child as something of a liberator.
For the most part, we face the world with an uncomfortable amount of transparency. But, in the end, that's really not such a bad thing. In many ways, at 10, despite the tortoise shell glasses and teased bangs, I was better than I am now.
So, who am I? A girl with bad vision and worse hair who attempts to write something like poetry.
Nice to meet you.