In a 1989 elementary school class photograph stands a short girl in the front row. She is wearing pink shorts, a loose teeshirt and her dark hair pulled back. She isn’t smiling. Maybe she forgot. Maybe she couldn’t figure out what the photographer was saying. Who knows. And I don’t remember. However, there are other things I do remember about that girl. Her heart, her insecurities, her goals and her fears. I remember because she was the little girl I once was.
Her teacher at school (a pretty Mrs Bosko) had assigned the class to write down three things they desired for their life. The little girl knew exactly what she wanted. One: that satan would be no more, two: that she would marry her current crush (Ed), and three: to get her ears peirced.
Marriage was often on my mind, a hopeless romantic little girl. Not the wedding and frills, but who? Who is he? Where is he? When am I going to meet him? Can I get married before I am old and twenty? I pictured myself happily married to a handsome man, living in the same town, shopping at the same stores, eating at the same restaurants I knew so well. Our children would attend the same school and have the same teachers as me so they would love school as much as I did. Perhaps being so caught up in that dream is a reason why I get so homesick these days. I am not living that dream, I am not even in the same country.
There are other things I remember about that little girl in the pink shorts. She had a great fear of bears because they were bigger than houses. Sometimes dogs were as big as bears. She wore stickers on her ears pretending they were earrings. She thought a witch stood in her closet at night and she’d wish the closet had a door. She had a Care Bears clock that purposefully ticked an hour and seven minutes off the correct time to help improve her math skills. Whenever she sat in front of the mirror, an ugly duck stared back. Before the school year was over, she hoped to learn the english word for “avundsjuk”.
Even though over 20 years have past and I have since learned that witches prefer flying broomsticks to messy closets, avundsjuk means “jealous”, and bears are smaller than houses, there is a part of me that is the same. I still love earrings (my ears are peirced), I still sometimes see an ugly duck staring back at me in the mirror, and I’m still not that great at math. I happily now know who my husband is (we married 3 years ago) and it was not Ed.
When I have moments of serious homesickness, I often think back to my childhood. There is a huge need in my soul that has to remember as much as I can. To not lose myself. The past has shaped my life. Why I think the way I do, the way I react to certain events, why I am so nostalgic and sentimental towards particular belongings.
I may not be in Ohio, but I can be ME anywhere in the world. I just need to remember who that is.