And I’m sitting here trying to get started – but I don’t want to feel the feels. Darn kids.
My first stories were books. Back in the olden days, we had movies, but we had to wait for them to come on TV once a year, we didn’t get to watch them whenever we wanted. That’s what books were for.
I think the first story I fell in love with, really connected with, was The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgsen Burnett. I haven’t read it in a very, very long time and I think that maybe I should.
It’s the story of a bossy little girl whose parents die, so she is sent to live at her Uncle’s house. No one can handle her attitude there either, and they are very cold and demanding of her. One of her caretakers doesn’t take her nonsense, but she also insists that she gets out in the sunshine to play like a little kid. She finds a key to a garden that was locked up when her Aunt died, and she and a local boy work together to make the garden come back to life. She discovers her cousin, who has been left to wither because people think he’s a cripple, and brings him to the garden and makes him strong and healthy. She wins over the rest of the caretakers, and they help the children as they work together to revive the garden and surprise the Uncle when he comes home from travelling.
I am pretty sure I was in the 2nd or the 3rd grade when I read this book – so probably 7 or 8 years old. The benefit of time, understanding more about my family dynamics, and the experience of raising children give me more understanding of why this book became so important to me. I’m the oldest child of 7. I have 5 brothers and 1 sister. We grew up very poor, mostly because my father chose to leave the military (during the Vietnam War) as a conscientious objector. There were five of us at that point in time, I was 5 years old.
My personality is very different than the next four of my siblings. I’ve always been loud and boisterous, and bossy. I have always been the caretaker of everyone, from a very young age. I’ve always figured out how to do things, and have always questioned why. Why do we have to do it that way. Why is it impossible. We can do it if we just….
I must have driven my mother crazy. She went through much of my childhood very depressed, for lots of reasons she’s only recently started to share. My brothers teased me mercilessly…they still don’t understand boundaries, and how much their words just flat out hurt (strange how the death of a parent can amplify things like that). And if I complained, my mom just couldn’t take it and shut me down. And I shut down. The only way I had to comfort myself was to read.
Finding a world where a misunderstood boisterous little girl could find friends, and make allies to bring a family back together again so everyone was happy was exactly what I needed. It’s still what I believe. Everything can grow again, if you give it what it needs. And there’s nothing wrong with being who you are, and not allowing others to force you into a mold that doesn’t fit you. You can be you and still fit in, you can find the place you were meant to be, and you can make a beautiful world.
I guess I’m still looking for that place.
I’m supposed to challenge other people to tell their story: What’s the first story you never wanted to leave? I’m tagging everyone who is participating in #vDM30in30, Marcia Conner, Alistair Croll, Laurence Hart, and long shots Gail Simone and Sherman Alexie (just because I’d really like to hear this story from authors I admire).
So now I’m off to get after my daughter for making me feel feels when I don’t want to.. I’m so proud of her for writing and making sense of the world. I just am not wanting to feel right now. Darn kids. 🙂