It’s hard for me to say what I was like as a child. I envy those who access with ease their childhood scenes. It’s like my memory fails me and for the moments it doesn’t, they begin to rise in my mind’s eye but somehow get caught in my throat like those words you don’t want to hear yourself say out loud when you’re succeeding at keeping yourself from crying. But then those words rise and, so tears fill your eyes. Your throat catches because if they come so, too, will the floodgates of your sorrow.
All I remember about little girl me is that I was just about the most people-y a people person you’d have ever met. But I grew up in a house of introverts. I needed a lot. I wanted a lot. Of attention, especially. And so, I was pretty much always lonely.
We lived in a house too big for us. There were so many walls between us that shouting through floors and ceilings became normal conversation. Our too big for us house was on the flat part of the street, just at the bottom of a big hill, in a group of four houses right before the top of another hill. I remember that riding my bicycle was a favorite thing – that I would test how fast I could go down the hills, and how long I could go after, without pedaling. Perhaps that’s a metaphor for something deep about my character – I wouldn’t know. I’m not really any good at making those sort of connections. That’s what “my people” help me do.
There are echoes in the corners of my mind of things from my childhood, evidence, perhaps, of what I was like. “The world doesn’t revolve around you!” bounces around. This one cut deep because it felt like an accusation that I didn’t care about others. “Think before you speak” is another that seems to be part of the tapestry, the intentionally woven fabric of my being… I can say, honestly, that one didn’t stick the way I am sure anyone would have hoped.
I have developed think-before-you-speak skills, but any thought I have is likely only ever a partial one unless it gets said aloud to another. So really, I depend on the speaking to think, in a sense.
Or maybe that’s just a justification.
It seems there is more to be remembered about my beginnings that I would have thought… only a bit of focus in that direction needed. Hmm. Focus. A word I say, often without thinking, ad nauseam, to my children. I wonder if that will be an echoing thread in the tapestry of their psyche. I wonder if it will resonate in their memory with gratitude for such a guiding light, or whether their ears will ring with the sound of defeat at being unable to meet the demands of their mother’s hope – that their lives will have what hers was so often missing: focus.