31 July 2007

Nostalgia

"Don't you wish you could do that again"? Asked one of my friends as we watched Big A demonstrating her remarkable gymnastic skills.

I paused before I responded.

What I really miss, what I would love to have back again, isn't necessarily the capability to do the splits or back-hand springs--don't get me wrong, I'd love to have that option physically again.

What I genuinely long for is the innocent unawareness that accompanied me in those days.

The fearlessness, the open-hearted attitude, the try-and-try again philosophy that accompanied me always, because I didn't know any better--that is what I really wish I could have back again.

I'm not sure when that disappeared; I'm sure gradually it chipped away during the years, probably beginning with my very first lesson in exclusion, most likely the first layer of that confidence stripped away one day at recess in the third grade when suddenly, I was outside of my circle of "friends" because of some transgression.

I can't remember the reason that everyone was ignoring me, but I do vividly recall swinging as high as I could on the swing and not jumping off, which was my usual mode of operation. I remember, clear as day, thinking that if I jumped and fell, that they would have further fuel to add to their fire of reasons not to like me.

So that day I brought myself to an awkward stop by using my feet to gradually slow down, leaving marks in the sand; impressions of my new-found insecurity, fresh and bare like the dirt that I brought to the surface with each drag of my foot.

And so I suppose, that since that day, I've been leaving those impressions everywhere that I go. No matter what I'm doing or how others might claim that they see me, I'm always that nervous girl looking for affirmation that I'm like-able and worthy.

I want to be unaware that sometimes if you fall, getting back up isn't that easy. Sometimes you break things and it takes time to heal. Sometimes things heal, but leave nasty scars that ache with the deepest sensations at the oddest times. Sometimes, you pretend not to be broken because explaining to one more person how you got injured in the first place is exhausting.

I want a shield of oblivion to cover me from the pain that accompanies knowing that someone doesn't like me, or some part of me.

I remember being shocked when described as arrogant or thinking that I was "too good" to talk to anyone. Still, to this very day, the reason that I avoid small talk or eye contact or put my head down when walking by is because I can't really imagine anything useful that I can offer anyone.

I'm always seeking affirmation, even from the people that I'm the closest to. "Are you mad at me?" "Did I do something to upset you?" "What's wrong?", constantly coming from my lips. Translation: "Do you still love me?"

I suppose that nostalgia begins for me that day on the swing; the first day that I realized that you could yearn for yesterday with such longing that it altered your very course of being; the first day that instead of flying, I timidly stepped.

Tying back to the question first posed to me, it isn't the capability of being able to flip on a beam that makes me wish for yesteryear, it's the knowledge that I could get up there in the first place, and the belief that everyone in the stands was there to cheer you on.

25 comments:

jen said...

that's it, isn't it. to be fearless in the company of a cheering section ready to grab you when you stumble. lovely post.

slouching mom said...

Oh, yes. This is lovely. My loss of innocence came in third grade as well, by way of two cruel little girls.

I think we all have similar stories, sadly.

Your metaphor, of stopping yourself from swinging by digging your feet into the dirt instead of jumping off the swing, is so apt.

Mamma said...

What a fantastic post! We are all too hard on ourselves and on each other. We, as women, should be cheering each other on. Not tearing each other down.

I'd be happy to be a cheering section for you. That's what I love about blogging. The cheering sections that develop.

Tara said...

This post just broke my heart. I fear the day that my daughter (also an A) begins to lose her fearlessness and someone hurts her. I wish I could protect her from that forever but that's not my job. This mothering business is tough stuff.

InTheFastLane said...

I choose to cheer for you as you root on your daughters' fearless swinging as long as it lasts.

Major Bedhead said...

Ooof. That one hits close to home. What a beautiful post.

T with Honey said...

I miss those blissfully ignorant and innocent days. Too bad I didn't listen to my mom when she told me to stop growing.

Lawyer Mama said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! This was a lovely, lovely post.

I miss that fearlessness. I know I had it once. I know I tumbled and jumped and ran and never once looked down at my feet. I never watched for cracks or obstacles. I just flew.

I'm cheering you on.

JMA said...

I would start the wave, in your cheering section.

Great post. My own wounds at the hands of Mean Girls still sting a little when I think of them, despite the fact that I'm no longer the tenative, fearful child that I used to be.

Amanda said...

Can't find the right words, seems the only response is a hug.

Her Grace said...

Big A's approaching that age, isn't she? I know she has what it takes to handle those Mean Girls, but it still hurts to think about her having to deal with them in the first place.

JustMe said...

Hits very close to home. I've been walking these shoes lately, too. I'd give anything to be able to kick them off and run barefoot across the beach! ((HUGS))

canape said...

"I remember being shocked when described as arrogant or thinking that I was "too good" to talk to anyone. Still, to this very day, the reason that I avoid small talk or eye contact or put my head down when walking by is because I can't really imagine anything useful that I can offer anyone."

Just had to see this again in writing. I feel like you crawled in my head and pulled that out. Right there with you on that one.

flutter said...

oof. my heart.

You are not "too good" you are just right....

and look at the cheering section you have.

Aimee said...

Is this why I have such a dysfunctional relationship with my blog's comment section? Probably.

You want to put your heart out there and have it be well received, and lovingly handled. It's so hard to do.

Great post.

Jonas said...

Yes, Jenn, you DO have a large cheering section...and it just keeps growing larger.

Jennifer said...

Alright, at some point soon you're going to have to pull a Sally Fields: "You like me!....You REALLY like me!" Yep, Jenn, we do!

Christine said...

that little girl on the swing? she is so sad, huh? i want to hug her and tell her "don't drag those feet! FLY!"

and: "I'm always seeking affirmation, even from the people that I'm the closest to. "Are you mad at me?" "Did I do something to upset you?" "What's wrong?", constantly coming from my lips. Translation: "Do you still love me?"

me too. me too.

KC said...

Who doesn't lose that innocence? Is it universal? And if we do have to lose some of it, how to preserve as much as possible for our children?

I tend to think that you can suddenly become vulnerable as a child, but you can get it all back later. Stronger. With a little help from your friends. Love. Lifting you back up on that balance beam.

bgirl said...

such a great post...i like the way you looked at the physical capability and tied it to our emotional freedom, our conviction that too quickly erodes. i'm with canape's comment...truly truly feel that same way so often.

another truism, that i felt with you was "Sometimes, you pretend not to be broken because explaining to one more person how you got injured in the first place is exhausting."

i hear you on that one jenn.

really loved this post.

Crow said...

You ARE likeable and worthy! More so than a lot of people I know. So don't ever think for a moment that you're not! I know that 3rd grade girls are ruthless...that's what they do...but if you could give me the names of the ones that hurt you, I would go find them for you! :)

deb said...

You want to hear something funny and sad, all at the same time? We're all like this and not just those who read your blog, but all of us in a global sense, even those who laugh and point a finger. We all carry that pain within us, it's like the original sin. But the good thing is that we all carry it so we're more alike than we realize, even that woman who thinks if she puts another down, it will make her feel better .

We are all the same, we look different and act different, but we are all the same.

Angela said...

So true for me too

Jen M. said...

I love this. I was at the gym last night and before jumping in the shower, I got in the large hot tub in the women's locker room. It was late, nearly closing, and no one was in there. I felt so free and unselfconscious. It was a rare, but wonderful feeling. To take up space and not care.

Wonderful post.

Belle-ah said...

Good thoughts in a deep, transparent way...thanks.