LOOK! I’m kid sister, I exclaimed.
That’s my earliest memory. Ever in my life.
I was two and had managed to cram my toes into kid sister’s plastic shoes. Remember her? That doll? There was that horrible jingle on television to sell her, but let’s be clear, not quite as terrible as the jingle they wrote when they decided to create kid sister’s brother? Or was it her friend? He was called my buddy, so let’s go with friend. ‘Member that? The song was all like: my buddy, my buddy, my buddy and me! (Apparently, didn’t take much to sell us on toys back in the 90s. Whoever got the air time got the dime, am-I-right?)
But I did it. I shoved each set of all 5 little toes into those teeny tiny white plastic shoes with painted on pink laces and scurried down the stairs, bolted out the door and with hands on my hips, standing in the grass of our new house put one foot out, then the other, as if to give a show to whomever would witness!
I was happy.
I was sitting on my bed.
In the twilight hours from dusk to dark.
My walls a soft pink, the carpet a deep mauve.
Clocks had been set back so the world felt different and unsettled. I remember exactly where my bed was positioned in my room; pushed back in a nook by the window. And gawd, did I hate my blinds growing up. They didn’t pull up easily and the strings made this weird noise – likened to that of nails on a chalkboard; you can hear it now, yes? You’d pull it up and it would just squeak and squeak, pulling it fast would only make it louder. There was no winning. For some reason that night, I hadn't yet twisted the slides shut; the remaining light of the day taunting the dark I was feeling.
This was something new. Something I hadn’t yet felt before.
It was a weird sort of homesick. I felt alone. Aware that not even my mother’s hug or my dad’s protection could soothe the emptiness. I felt alone.
I was lonely.
That feeling didn’t just go away.
It came back. It returned. Not all nights. But some.
Thing is, I soon found that the feeling came around the same time as when the train near my home would pass by. So I sorta came to hate trains, even into my adulthood; because every time I hear them I’m immediately sitting on my childhood wooden-framed bed… alone.
I have a train that goes by my house. And when I hear it, I try and pretend maybe I don’t. But I always do. And my gut always sinks and I have to pull it back up to where its rightful spot is in my body. I hate it.
‘CEPT THAT. The other day, while at my house the train went by and I said, there’s the train.
And my friend calmly and nonchalantly, as if stating a simple fact, said: I love trains. I used to have this train by my house growing up. And after a pause added, I like it.
Like it? Really? I thought. I hate trains. I hate them a whole lot. Like a lotta lot.
But here I was, watching a friend delight in them. Not just delight. My friend seemed enchanted – like trains were a memory of comfort, of sorts.
And guess what? Know what happened? Next time I heard a train, magically... I was happy.
For the first time in 25 years I was happy when I heard a train. The train had new meaning and THAT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
I realized something in that moment. That life, that memories can be written over and changed. I mean, sure, with time memories change. But that life itself can actually bring about things that change meanings of our past.
You know, it’s pretty cool. That you got to re-write what that house stood for, even if you do end up having to move, my friend pointed out as we discussed my upcoming divorce.
And I realized something in that moment. That life, that our present can be actively writing over the past. And that I can have an ACTIVE part in it.
A home, so full of anger and hatred and conflict (pushing no blame aside for my own to own in all of it) but that’s what my house had been. A beacon not of light and life, but of dark and death.
Over the past several months I have worked to BE different. To make this house a home; full of love, and joy, and peace. If I were to leave this house, I will leave it changed.
And that is…MAGIC.
God is amazing, like that. The way life changes and can be changed if we but choose to have eyes to see it, a hope to seek it, a will to believe it and actions to achieve it. (if this doesn’t end up on a poster somewhere, I quit!)
Today, my prayer for you is that whatever it is in your life – both past and present – that needs to be re-written; may it be so.