Remember all those boxes my parents gave me when they moved?
I am still working through journals and “Most Homework” awards, notes my friends passed me between periods, and sketches of 90s fashion.
I always assumed one day the journals would be super relevant to society as a whole. Like- how cool would it be to read Van Gogh’s childhood journals?
But i’ve had a revelation, which is that i am not Van Gogh. Au contraire. I am devoid of passion. I want little to do with the local fine art community. I very much like both my ears. And while it is true that i might shoot myself should i have access to a gun, i refuse to commit myself to an asylum. Nor do i have a vast array of paintings to leave in my wake.
Also, my poems suck. I’ve gone through about five or six notebooks and only salvaged three poems, all in Spanish.
I came across a theme song my friend, Linda, wrote me in high school, in case i ever got my own show. That was a nice keepsake.
The journal entries are full of puberty-driven drama and a couple traumatic public arguments with my mom, which i should recall but have no working memory of.
In 4th grade, our teacher made us makeshift yearbooks and we all had to write something nice about each other. A lot of kids described me as funny, nice and smart. My crush wrote an especially personal note about my slinky and it recovering from its allergies.
9-year old me had friends, wit, and even an academic rival. She had it all together.
(I have no working memory of that).
In a different journal, one from a few years later, my friend Anita said i was her best friend. She was murdered a week before graduation. What if i hadn’t switched to homeschooling? She might still be alive.
Anita and i met in kindergarten. At some point she approached me and asked if i would be friends with her. She spent a lot of time at our home after that.
We were always the shortest ones in class pictures. But she was a bigger risk-taker, and she had the attitude of an adult pop star when we were only 13.
We used to ditch class and talk about world politics and philosophy. Or her boyfriends. Or my crushes.
But i have blocked a lot of her memories too.
I wish i hadn’t.
So anyway, i peaked at nine years of age, and it’s all been downhill since.
I was exceptionally good at math, even being in the 99th percentile for a couple years. That’s when my older brother, an Economics major, was tutoring me. But then he moved out, chosing his girlfriend over my grades.
I think if he’d kept supporting me, i might have become an astrophysicist. But i was too independent to ask for help.
Still, i can’t help but blame him for my mediocre career. I mean, my academic output was entirely his responsibility.
I often wrote about how much i hated to bother people, how i didn’t feel connected to anyone, how their love felt conditional… A lot of the same stuff i am trying to work through now as symptoms of Borderline Personality, or abandonment anxiety.
At some early point, i gave up trying to depend on friends and family and focused on my relationship with God.
I had a friend, Michelle. I am still friends with her. I kept writing “to” her long after she disappeared to Vegas.
I’ve never shown her all the letters i wrote her. We’re just nominal friends now. Childhood friends. Not adult friends, which i understand is a thing.
I spent a lot of time with Anita, but of course, she died, and with another girl named Brenda, whom i lost touch with after she eloped at sixteen.
Brenda was my neighbor. She was sort of a child-slave for her younger brothers and dad.
Then there was Linda, who wrote me the theme song, but went off the grid when she divorced in our late 20s.
And Nancy, whom i ran into in Dance Club last spring, but am too indecisive about texting because she’s too attached to many old schoolmates.
I do not wish to relive school hierarchies; some kids were nice but i feel indifferent towards most.
There was Sarah, my mental counterpart, who dropped out of school because she got pregnant at 16.
Her parents didn’t like me. But she had a cat and a piano. And a baby, in time.
I guess a lot of my friends either left home at 16, or got murdered. It was kinda the thing to do back then.
I was not a good daughter to my mother. There was a little bit of verbal and physical abuse and my reaction was to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
But i have no working memory of that. It’s all in the shredder now.
I am not sorry, 9-Year Old Me. You saw how our brother walked out the door. I did the best i could with our available emotional resources. I have nothing to apologize for.