Saturday, January 28, 2017

Childhood Remembrances

For nearly 13 years now, I've been holding onto a letter that Grace wrote to herself.
I can't remember if the letter was my idea or if she'd heard it from one of her friends. The goal was that she not become one of those strong girls who goes through middle school and becomes a people pleaser, boy crazy girl who puts aside her own interests and activities. 
I imagined that she would passionately describe the joy of swinging her lanky legs over the back of a horse, the bliss of leading it by the leather reins tight in her gloved-hands and the sheer elation she felt as she became weightless when the horse leaped over a fence or water-filled ditch before the jolt of landing on the hard ground again. 
Her true bliss, curling up on the floor with our droopy-eared dog or sleeping with the weight of our black cat on the bed, surely would find its way into her letter. She would run her hand over their backs, telling them secrets. 

And I thought for sure that she'd write about how powerful she felt in the swimming pool as she moved her arms like an endless paddlewheel, stroking and kicking her way through the water to pop her head up at the wall. 
And maybe she'd remind herself how much she loved languages, memorizing each symbol of Egyptian hieroglyphs and wearing out a book on Cherokee symbols. Each language felt like a challenge that she needed to conquer, which perhaps led her to dive into opera and efforts to understand German, French and Italian.

It might have been around 12 that she discovered the mysteries of genetics. She'd spend time diagramming how the different genetic material might result in a left-handed child or a blue-eyed child. 
If nothing else, I figured she'd write about her obsession with Harry Potter books, the endless roleplay she and her friends acted out in our backyard.  
So Grace took some stationery and diligently wrote in her 12-year-old handwriting. Then she handed it over to me. 

I didn't have a specific place that I stashed it, but occasionally, when I cleaned off my bedside table, I'd find it there amongst my journals.
Yesterday, Grace turned 25, and I figured it was time for her to confront her 12-year-old self, to see if she'd lived up to her expectations.  

It was a busy day for her. After working from 9-5, she rushed to the theater where a new play, The Lion in Winter, was opening. She plays Princess Alais, the mistress of King Henry II. 

I hoped that we could all gather after the play for cake, presents and the opening of the letter. 
A sophisticated bar downtown with great windows overlooking the city might be a good place to gather, I decided. 
But as the play ended at 10:30, suddenly everyone was too tired to contemplate going out. We instead stumbled back to our house where we set out the chocolate bombe from Pistacia Vera, a lovely chocolate mousse cake, and we liberated a bottle of red wine from the basement stash. Grace's boyfriend Jack was there, along with her friends Dave and Taryn. Plus Spencer was home, busy studying for his insurance exam. 
I handed her the letter first thing and she slit the envelope open. 
"It's just a list of who my friends are," she said as her eyes slid over the paper. "It has our address and says that Rosie (the dog) and Buddy (the cat) are alive."
Grace gave a laugh, "And it says Elizabeth was my friend until November but she isn't my friend anymore." 
We speculated on what might have happened between Grace and her friend Elizabeth.
I admitted to being disappointed. "I thought it would focus on all of your passions."
"Instead, I was just a 12-year-old gossip girl," she said. 
Another mystery solved, but without a satisfactory ending.
If it was a novel, I'm not sure which I'd have preferred, to learn that she had remembered all of her passions, tackling them with strength and vigor, or for her to be disappointed that she hadn't met her expectations. Then, as a character in a novel, she'd have to set out to become someone that 12-year-old could be proud of.
No matter what she wrote in that letter, I think she'd be pretty proud of the 25-year-old she has become.  

1 comment:

Just Me said...

Belated Happy Birthday to a young lady who I have long admired.

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