The last few years have been very cathartic for me. I have had to say good bye to a lot of things that I loved from the time that I was very small. My grandmother passed away last summer, just ten days before my birthday. I had to haul ass to get home to talk to her just one more time before she left and she didn’t even get to say good-bye to my children. That was how fast I had to move just to be with her. After I said good bye to her, I said good bye to the house where I grew up. The yard was overgrown, but the trees were still there and I could still see the scars on the old maple where my swing used to be. I never knew how my grandfather managed to get the swing put up there, or if he made my dad do it. When I was a kid, it didn’t matter. But then, in that moment all I could see was that the swing was long gone and the remnants of my childhood hung in that yard like ancient material, too strong and durable to give way, and at the same time so delicate and fragile that a single touch would rend all to dust.
Mingled in amongst the pain and the grief was the sheer joy at seeing Optimus Prime brought back to life by Peter Cullen, who will forever be the first man I ever loved. I picked it up on DVD as soon as it came out and it wrapped my soul in a comforting balm of light and wonder while I dealt with reality.
Time has marched on. I am 35 years old. I am not, and have not been a child for a very long time… but I have always been so busy that I never bothered to stop and think about it. In part, I suppose, it was because I was such a nerd growing up. I was one of maybe ten kids at my school that thought Star Trek was cool. I didn’t give up cartoons until high school and even then, I still watched them with my little brother when I thought no one was looking. I never really connected with being a child when I was one. I was so busy trying to avoid being recognized for what I was that I never stopped to revel in it. At some point in the midst of all of that, life took over.
I became a mother, a wife, a web designer, a blogger, a friend, a confidante. I became an advocate for my children, who so desperately needed me because they suffer the stigma of being labeled as a part of geek subculture, just like their parents. I was so busy fighting for all of that, that I never stopped to look back on what had been. I knew it existed. I talked about it and reminisced with my other friends. I was grateful that we’d relocated and that they had never shared my experiences. It meant that I never had to tell the whole story, I only needed to share the good parts, the funny parts. I only had to talk about the parts that made me feel good about what it was to be a child and I could leave out all the rest.
It made it easier to walk away from what was hard. I didn’t have to remember that there was this near constant feeling of me always being on the outside looking in on others. I was terrified of not fitting in, of not belonging. I gloss over all of this now by saying that junior high sucked and that these are the most awkward and horrifying years of anyone’s life. I still believe that, but now, thanks to Facebook… I’ve remembered that it wasn’t all so bad.
I did have a few good friends. Not many, but enough. I never really believed that they understood me, but they tried. They were there and I had some of the best times of my life with them. They made it easier to be the geeky fat girl. They made my life bearable… and I will never forget them and I will always be thankful that they found me. I can’t tell you how many times they saved me from myself just by pointing out that I was being a twit. Because let’s face it, that’s what real friends do.
As I write this, I am trying not to explain to my daughter, who is about to embark upon her own rites of passage into adulthood, why it is that there are tears streaming down my cheeks. The truth is, I don’t actually know. I’m not sure if it’s grief for all that I have lost, or joy for all that I have gained. All I can tell you is that it’s facebook’s fault because someone I knew back then, when I didn’t even know what life was, posted some pictures of me up there surrounded by all those friends. I had this big goofy smile on my face. My ankles were crossed in front of me and my hands were folded into my lap as I tried to hide my young face, which I never really thought of as being pretty and I cannot help but cry. Perhaps I am crying for lost opportunities. I just don’t know.
All I know now, is that I really did not believe that I was pretty until my husband looked at me one day and said without a single shred of doubt in his mind that I was beautiful. He has told me every day since that day, and I haven’t ever bothered to look back from that moment until now.
Screw you facebook.