Wednesday, March 25, 2009

She remembers wanting and needing the attention of boys from the beginning

It is only now, because she has a daughter of her own, that she sees her life with the benefit of some distance. She can pull out the volumes cached in her heart, opening them up with tenderness for her own little girl lost. As is always the case, having a child reflects back that which is most difficult to acknowledge. And own.

She remembers wanting and needing the attention of boys from the beginning. Perhaps starting at age 4. Life was full of other things, yet the obsession...and it was an obsession, started early. Her diaries describe her life in highs and lows, all related to a particular boy. And then another boy. And another. Not much else lives in those small books bound by lock and tiny key. As if her life did not exist between loves.

Her first full-out crush was on an older boy. He was 18 and she was 8. She fell for him when she was cast in the show "Carnival." He was the male lead. She, a small gypsy child.

During the run her passion for him grew. He was kind to her, and seemed not to notice her blushes, and enraptured eyes, ever larger whenever he approached. She nearly swooned every night when he lifted her up in his strong arms and placed her on the well, his rich baritone filling the auditorium. When the show ended, she got up all of her courage and asked him for his autograph. Later, at home, she framed it with Popsicle sticks and hung it in her room. She doesn't remember whether it was her idea, or her mother's, but she wrote him a letter declaring her feelings of admiration and left it in his mailbox. He never replied.

Wherever she went there was always a boy. Once when her family was staying at a hotel in Nairobi, she met a boy her age from Australia. She's not sure whether it was his accent, or the way he looked at her, but she does remember the titillation of chaste kisses deep in the bushes behind the hotel. Her diary speaks of love found. She was 9 years old. She wrote to him... once.

She was never THE IT GIRL, but she fit in well, made friends and continued her life of knowing that a boy's attention was glorious. And filling. Except when it was a boy whom she didn't like. Like that. But...those boys always seemed to find her. Perhaps it was because she was a nice girl. They mistook friendliness for interest. And somehow, she always paid for it. Once walking home from school the boy pelted her with oranges. Hard. Again and again. She remembers how salty her tears felt, slipping into her mouth. And the stickiness of the orange pulp soaking through her shirt. At home, when she changed, she noticed her back covered with red welts. She didn't say anything. She was 11.

It was in her 13th year that she was truly beautiful - caught between childhood and womanhood. Her Barbie dolls lovingly put away, to make way for other things. It was a beauty that men recognized and noticed, and caused her discomfort. Because she was aware that something had changed...yet, she was the same on the inside. There was innocence there behind her saucer eyes, and body still on the verge. Sometimes they stared and made smacking sounds in the air - calling out to her...HEY, BABY!

But, it was powerful when boys her age became aware of her. Suddenly she was a candidate for being the IT GIRL! Elevated to a higher rank within the walls of Junior High. She remembers the first day of school in that September of her 9th grade year. She had a new dress. It was red with white polka dots, short, with a scooped neck. A full skirt, cinched at the waist. Two boys from her grade, sat and watched her walk across the length of the courtyard. It may have been her first entrance.

WOW, get a load of her!

She's really changed this summer!

And so, she felt validated. It was to be just a few years later in which the line between being in life and being on stage were to become blurred.

********Painting titled: The Artist's Studio by Zoe Hadley.

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  1. This is so interesting--I wonder why it was that way? Did the mother--encouraging the writing of the letter at such a young age--factor in?

  2. I'm hooked. I want to know this girl, and I want to give her a hug.

  3. The psychologist in me wants to know what your relationship was like with your dad?

  4. Wow. You've totally pulled me in back to those days. I was never an IT GIRL contender but the feelings are almost uncomfortably familiar.

  5. This is fascinating and achingly beautiful all at the same time. I sense an awakening here....

  6. Very interesting. We had the same desires, but with wildly divergent paths. I was NEVER noticed, except to be ridiculed for clumsiness or my glasses or whatever. I firmly believe that my father's death when I was 3 was the primary factor in my quest to be loved. I'm interested to see where the followup leads.

  7. oh, wow

    when I look back at my journals from my tween years I am shamed by how they are all about boys. surely there was more going on in my life... but that's all I saw fit to write about.

    i want to give my daughter a broader horizon

  8. It is amazing, isn't it? How our histories shape our futures? This was so eloquent JCK.

  9. I was never boy crazy (not surprising, I guess), but for as long as I've known, I've longed for validation from others--I do identify.

  10. We could have been twins, JCK, except for the last part about the red dress...

  11. Summer was never that kind to me. Probably a good thing...

    I loved this story.

  12. Great Interview of Mrs Beginagain!! And, I love how you women have no hesitancy to tossing out the ages of other women!!

    I think as a K9 I can get into the act as well.

  13. Got curious about facebook so of course I signed up and guess who I found on there from MKHS? That's right! One Mr. D.G. Hopefully he's going to be my new friend(^;

  14. I remember when I was in a play...and what it was like to get my braces off the week before freshman year.

    Great post!!

  15. so, i just spent a long time looking over your interviews. what a fascinating thing to read. i have enjoyed them immensely.


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