Girls I Once Was
Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time with the girls I’ve been before. As I’ve gotten older, it’s been easy to forget about them, from time to time. As my views have changed, or as I’ve moved toward wholeness, sometimes I’ve wanted to forget.
But in this season, I’m being gentle to myself. Not just the me that I am now, but all the Caras I’ve been. Instead of leaving them in the past, I’m listening to their stories once again. The experience has been heartbreaking, freeing and lovely. I’m learning that I stand stronger when I stand with all of me. I’m learning a little more about what it means that God loves me outside of time, loving all of the girls I’ve been, am now, and will be. The Spirit is teaching me that, too.
I’m sharing three girls I’ve been, today. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them as much as I have.
She is four and a half and has not yet learned to be self-conscious. She stands on the heavy brick fireplace at Grandmother’s house, belting out “opera.” When it is someone’s birthday, she sings her own version of the song. Later, she will be confused when it is compared to Marilyn Monroe’s rendition. For now, she knows that she wants to make it special, unique. She has a “happy birthday” dance that goes along with it. Decades later, when she sings the song, she still does the dance (even over the phone).
She is comfortable and relaxed among family. Though family is already complicated, she is shielded from that reality, for now.
She sings, unafraid of how she sounds, confident of a warm reception from those she loves.
She is eleven, devouring mystery stories as if she is needed to crack the case. She wears plaid wool skirts, knee socks, and Mary Janes proudly. Not yet old enough to drive, she dreams of one day sliding into a blue roadster and hitting the pavement in search of a missing testatrix or inherited jewelry box with a mysterious compartment.
She is comfortable engaging mystery.
She seeks it out.
She starts writing mysteries of her own, coming up with cryptic clues and ever-present best friends to tease out the connections.
She wrote on lined paper, made to fill a three-ring binder. Although she started many times, she never finished writing a mystery. I like to think that she knew that an unfinished mystery story was actually closer to something real. I know that her willingness to leave the endings open helps me with my open endings.
She is sixteen and writing her first book. It is a work of Christian fiction with surprisingly sophisticated structure. She is lonely, and she writes about friends and lovers so that they will inhabit her world.
All of the kisses she writes are “gentle.”
She bases some of her characters on people she knows in youth group. The cute drummer and his girlfriend, the charismatic youth leader, the effortlessly cool girl one year ahead, the dark-haired song writer who feeds the homeless.
She has control over relationships on the page. She loves this about fiction. She can decide when love will come, and who it will visit.
She writes until it is finished, then copies out addresses for agents in the bookstore. She spends weeks on a query letter. One agent asks for the manuscript. I know the moment of that now, but she took it in stride. The agent read her book and suggested some character development.
Character development would be a good way to sum up my life since.
These girls have my heart. I am still that little girl, singing her heart out, and the one trying to write a mystery, still trying to infuse life with romance and love.
I wonder, sometimes, what they would think if they could peer into the future. I wonder if they would warm to me, as I’m learning to do with them.
Would you like to share one of the ones you’ve been?
This post is part of a link-up called “The Girls We Once Were” hosted by Story Sessions for International Women’s Day. The link up goes live tomorrow, you are welcome to participate.