a girl remembers (part 1)


I didn't wear pink or play with dolls. I don't remember princess parties or sparkling tutus. I didn't play mommy unless there was a make believe daddy involved if you know what I mean...I never had a Barbie or closets of dresses. I didn't wear my moms heels (she didn't wear them) or try on lipstick until I was told by my parents I couldn't wear make-up until I was 15... Then I did it out of rebellion or if I was in a play, caked thick with theater make-up.Exposed. No filter. Morning light. I, in fact, don't remember liking very many girls, except the ones who climbed trees, rode bikes, and were totally willing to punch that boy if he was being a bully. I wasn't a bully or unfair. I wasn't mean or scared of much. I was just me. Some would say a tomboy. I say an athlete. I liked to run, play basketball and organize tag, hide and seek and how to get the most out of summer days. It wasn't until my 30s that I discovered how much I loved skiing, so during the winters, I actually wanted to read a book by the fire, write poetry, and act out plays and songs I invented or borrowed. I was confident, charismatic, and bright. I wanted people to like me. I wanted them to see me for all that I was. I was a lot.

I was empathetic and shied away from the group but wanted to be included and felt the conflict of not succumbing to the norm and yet wanting to be normal. I had a lot going on in my head. I was hyper aware of social dynamics, not incredibly sure of the educational systems or why we were made to do busy work or follow (what felt like) arbitrary order. I laughed out loud and yearned for attention. I wanted boys to like me the way they liked the pretty girls but would rather compete for the most free throw shots than wear a dress or let them know how much I wanted to impress them. The more I tried, the harder school, socially, got. Instead of excelling at homework or trying to outshine kids in the classroom, I kept with sports. I was tall and strong. Once I tried out for cheerleading and knew I would never be able to be on the sidelines or a fan in the stands. A bit clumsy and wild in my style, I was not quite on the starting lineup nor a bench warmer... But a strong defensive player with an offensive vision of myself. I never quite knew when to step forward or back and often got in my own way.

School and sports had a secondary priority to my attention and focus because really I wanted to be an actress. I loved the theater, the characters, the ability to escape reality and enter a zone of personas and make believe. I struggled in between age and ensembles and being made fun of by people who resented my out right distain for social games. I was left out of the inner circle and I looked to adults to recognize and praise my efforts. I was in fact a bit of a (excuse the cliche) black sheep.

My junior year, I got lost in school changes and district rules around sports and lost varsity momentum when I transferred. With little grounding and new faces surrounding me during a pinnacle time in life, I found drugs were an "in", a way to distract myself from the pain of being misunderstood, scapegoated and shunned. I figured boys would accept me and let me ride around in the off-roading adventures that girls didn't seem to take unless they were trying to make a mark or get a guy or do the things that I hadn't tried so much, until I realized that attention of any kind felt like affection even if it was destructive and sometimes unkind.

Divorce and life was taking its course leading me towards reeling in self-loathing and a confusing time when the blurred lines of teenage anxiety and poor choices would land me without a diploma, no varsity letters to speak of and the declaration of being done with acting: "I" didn't even exist anymore. It didn't matter what I wore, I didn't belong. It didn't matter what I said, I was so angry and lost. It didn't matter who I was friends with, it all felt very wrong.

I had to get out, I had to get out of this small town. I left without many goodbyes. I hurried my way to a community college in CA to try...something different, something on my own. I found yoga. Hatha yoga in a small dance room, led by a retired dancer, as an elective to an associates degree that I would almost complete before my high school diploma came in the mail... And I was encouraged by an activist, multi racial, equality-writing advocate, professor; she harnessed my rebellion and shaped my writing voice. And a roommate, a pagan witch would shake me up and insist I make better choices, like stop smoking pot and wake up to all you've got! I found the ocean and swam all year. I climbed the mountain in the back yard of a house that created a home for orphans and seekers and believers on the edge of the redwood forest. I found prayer and ritual. I found music and dance, and a freedom to take a chance on believing in myself. I shaved my head and found women not as weird, feminine competitive entities, but as beautiful sexual and inspiring half of the species.

I came out. I got proud. I put a rainbow on everything. I stopped being angry at my mom and focused my frustration on the system. I wrote. I spoke. I found a community. It was on the edge of turning too far down a path that would ultimately would end up on the side of a road, buried in self shame and regret. Instead, I turned right, into the edge of something bigger and fuller and more complete than my fears or self doubt. I kept turning into a righteous being, full of hope and conspiring feelings of doing things better, not just for myself but for the whole. I wore black combat boots and dated girls. I produced art shows and marched; I wrote speeches about equality and made justice sound like poetry. I went back to smoking, lingering in the bohemian trail of new cityscapes. A another school transfer and a move to the city made me rearrange myself into a gal who thought she could handle school, social, seeking and started forgetting what she had found so easily in the ocean.

I almost didn't finish the bachelorette degree, comprised of so many unfocused things that it finally it described itself as a multimedia something... I found my way back to sports, as a coach and a leader in after school programs, hoping I could find that feeling of making that three point shot, or preseason training or the belonging that comes with being on a team. Children were such a good audience for me. I loved my role, my three-striped Adidas costume and persona of being together, even though somewhere inside I was slipping. I was missing something. I couldn't figure out where I had left that girl who practiced yoga and danced on the beach and sang to the trees and believed in fairies and magical things. I decided to move across the country. I had always wanted to live in NYC. No job, no real leads... Just me, a pick up truck and a dream.

...to be continued...

remembering a girl