A happy girl

January 24th, 2008

First, a shout out to the wonderful parents at Serra Preschool in San Clemente, Calif., for welcoming me so graciously on a wet and wild Wednesday night. Your attention made me feel at home. And on that note, I’ll conclude this week’s story.

Home became a distant thing. She would write “Santa Monica” in the blank besides Birthplace, all those vowels imparting a faraway status. But they hardly ever returned there until they never went back at all. Her grandparents became faint and frail, even by phone. Grandma died first, a long and lonely departure. Then grandpa came to Texas for his turn. He was stooped and stale and forgetful, forgetting even to buckle his belt, since he couldn’t unbuckle it again. She had learned more about him by then. She had learned who he wasn’t. He wasn’t big and never had been, being a half-foot short of six feet tall. By then a young woman, she had already begun to choose big boys and men to stand beside, only later realizing the misperception. To a four-year-old, five-foot-six was big enough.

She held fast to what she later learned, the family secrets and perpetual failings, and forgot the rest. She forgot about California. Only recently, in the long sad summer which had just ended, and at the suggestion of a counselor running thin on weekly advice, had she looked through grandma’s photo albums, now in her closet, with open eyes. She saw herself again, and she was stunned. I was a happy girl.

10 Comments »

  1. This whole series of your blogs are beautiful, and they have been a pleasure to read. Thank you.

    Comment by Shelli — January 24, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  2. I concur. And curious about all the lovely little photos you post together with your writings. Where do you find these? Or do you take them yourself?

    While your words always give exactly enough, the images add a nice little twist. Love it!

    Comment by Lana Willocks — January 24, 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  3. Friends, I always receive your responses with gratitude.

    And Lana, thanks for speaking up from your faraway home with all those vowels and consonants! It’s amazing what you can find doing a Google image search. It is like going treasure hunting, because I have to search for the word or phrase that describes what I’m trying to capture visually, and it takes me on a bit of a journey. Usually the first image I search for is a bit too literal and flat. “Duh!”And even though I say it is a journey, it is a journey of “one turn” and I only let it last about 2 mins before I trust that the picture I’ve found is precisely what I’m looking for.

    xo

    Comment by Karen — January 24, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  4. I, too, have loved these bite-sized bits of great writing. It has been kind of magical all week seeing the story unfold. Thank you. I always love coming here, not knowing what kind of gems I’ll find.

    xo Jena

    Comment by Anonymous — January 24, 2008 @ 8:22 pm

  5. Oops – didn’t mean to be anonymous!

    Comment by Jena Strong — January 24, 2008 @ 8:23 pm

  6. I’ll always know who you are, but I want you to be completely, unselfconsciously, unapologetically anonymous!

    Comment by Karen — January 24, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

  7. I love it.

    Comment by Mika — January 25, 2008 @ 12:13 am

  8. Happiness even in retrospect seems a beautiful thing to discover.

    Comment by marta — January 25, 2008 @ 4:55 am

  9. Yes – I realized about childhood that what you remember and how you remember it are two different things.

    Love the richness of each post this week.

    Comment by denise — January 25, 2008 @ 4:58 am

  10. Marta,
    Yes, and about that retrospection: this occurred at the time that I had convinced myself that “I’ve never been happy” and I was a textbook case of “chronic depression.” A whole lifetime, several lifetimes of beauty flowed from the recognition that I was sadly, happily mistaken about who I was.

    Comment by Karen — January 25, 2008 @ 5:20 am

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