The purpose for starting this blog is threefold, one, to push my personal limits a bit and share my story with others, two, hopefully in doing so, to get a clearer understanding of myself and three, to inspire others with similar stories to keep going. My story is weird. I’ve seen the response on people’s faces my entire life. I am fairly guarded on what and how I share with people but I have decided I’m too old give a fuck anymore.
My story begins when I the memories become more solid and less fleeting, right around the age of 5. I have memories prior, but they are mostly snippets. I can remember climbing up the walls, literally, down the narrow hallway, overhead like a spider. I can remember Jerry helping me dismember and bury my life-sized doll that haunted me in my dreams. We buried her in mom’s rose garden. Really she was a horrible doll, no friendship at all, just terror. I can remember dropping my dad’s weights on my toe and crying as my mom lay sick on the couch. She had a horrible bout of food poisoning and couldn’t provide much comfort. She called my grandmother to come and take me for the day. I can remember my dad kicking me across the room because I had left my crayons all over the floor. I can remember Jason coming home from the hospital and me being so excited. I wanted to hold him but mom thought I was a little too squirrely and might drop him. She told me I could hold him later. I can remember being able to outrun any kid in the neighborhood, no matter their age, I could beat them.
The short vignettes begin to lengthen and my memory falters less. Sometimes I try and chalk the ridiculousness up to a healthy imagination but my brothers consistently back up a very close rendition and are able to add pieces that I have forgotten. These are true stories. I’m very cognizant as a parent that the harshest memories will be the ones that stick with my kids and have tried so hard to leave none. I’m completely curious why the same realization never came to the adults in my own childhood. I have shared these stories with my closest friends and we have always laughed at them, never cried. The element of humor is crucial, an acknowledgment of survival and victory over those who couldn’t break me. There are some stories that I have never shared.
When I was young and in the midst of the crazy shit going on around me, I didn’t realize the degree of crazy. I understood that most of the stuff I was witnessing and participating in was unusual but it wasn’t until I grew into adulthood and certainly when I began having my own kids that I realized, wow, that was really off the deep end. It’s been really difficult standing on my foundation and negotiating a positive direction in which I wanted to travel. Many of my choices, even at a very young age, have been very purposeful knowing that I wanted a life very different from where I came. I love watching the innocence and naiveté in my own kids knowing that their most difficult decisions include where to start building next on Minecraft. With these images stuck in my head, I often grab my kids and hold them so tight. I can feel my 6-year-old self being wrapped a loving embrace as I hold them close. I do it often, just beyond their level of annoyance. The power of love, it transcends time and space.
In terms of identity, we all struggle with being true to ourselves and figuring out who our true self is. The difficulty of this task is compounded for people who escape the clutches of social situations that bind. Negotiating social and cultural norms within and amongst status groups is difficult and one has to be very intentional of picking up on social cues, as they can be so slight yet so telling. My clipped English gives me away, my extensive knowledge of awesome curse words gives me away, my hearty guffaw gives me away and the jargon from my education gives me away. We learn to code switch and maneuver this delicate dance. Education is the great equalizer.
Through the darkest times I actually knew I would be ok. I made a pitch to God early on that I wanted a life very different and I knew I was heard. I was very cognizant of my responsibility in changing my path and making better choices than my parents. What I needed was a little control, a chance to make my own decisions. Each new start, of which I had many, was a new opportunity to me to reinvent myself, to be the person I was meant to be. To put a positive spin on the fact that I attended seven different schools by the time I entered high school, I think it’s easier to be the person you want to be when you’re not limited to being the person people already think you are. Growth comes much slower for those trapped in a small town.