Monday, January 18, 2010

Self-induced heresy

As you can see, I have added a little animated llama to my page. If clicking around isn't enough to satisfy your entertainment needs, there's always the tab in the lower right corner that says "more." Click it, and you can get hay so you can FEED the llama.
Try not to waste too much of your life playing with it. I'm warning you because I've gotten myself mildly obsessed.
The heavens have been pouring since Saturday, which means being holed up inside doing homework and laundry and cleaning the bathrooms and working on projects, taking bubble baths, and reading quietly. Boring, but actually pretty nice at the same time. Certainly not much to blog about.
HOWEVER I have been working on a scrapbook of pictures of my friends and family and whatnot. I don't know if I mentioned this, but I got a camera for Christmas, which sparked a picture-taking obsession. Now I'm scrapbooking all the good pictures, leaving out the random shots of pebbles, trees, thumbtacks, et cetera.
Though all those random shots might make for an interesting scrapbook.
I also finished up my vignette project. The hardest one, for some reason, was the "A Place I Have Lived" one. My first draft was way too long, but when I restarted, cropping most of the ideas out, I found I didn't have enough to say. The mediocre product of all that toil:

It was a fair-sized house at the bottom of a hill, with trees and a sidewalk out front and a thousand acres of untamed wild stretching out into the distance out back.
At least, that’s how I saw it when I was six, just out of toddler-hood and eager to explore. The stretch of tall, dried-out grass waving cheerily to me from the backyard--which was really far too big to be considered a backyard at all-- enticed the adventurous child that I was to explore. I was drawn to the ferns, so golden, absorbing the sunlight and reflecting it back towards the sky. Later I would discover that if I crouched, I could be hidden amongst the ferns. They extended their shining arms up towards the stratosphere like children reaching imploringly for a cookie jar placed just out of their reach; I huddled down into the dirt, shrinking, shrinking as I stole through the tall grasses, carving out avenues with every footstep until a maze was engraved in the field, an indistinct labyrinth serving as a record of every square inch of the artificial wilderness that I had discovered so far.
I had always been a hider. I wiggled my miniature child’s body into impossible spaces, a habit that my parents were determined to break. “It’s not normal,” my dad would growl, “It’s not healthy,” my mother fretted. I heard several of these “Jenny’s-a-freak” conversations, crammed into a cupboard or squeezed into the narrow gap behind the sofa in the front room, holding my breath for fear I would be discovered. They never found me, hushquiet mouse girl disappearing, fading into invisibility in whatever hidey-hole I was occupying. But when their anxiety blossomed into arguments and their speaking became shouting, I had to squeeze my eyes shut, swallow down the building tears to control the shaking of silent sobs.
I don’t know why it bothered them. I don’t know why I had such an intense addiction to being in confinement, but I did, and I learned to flee to the field when I felt like hiding. They liked to pretend I was out frolicking like any other, normal little girl would be, which I sometimes was, but the three of us knew that I was really going out to curl up in the densest patch of ferns that I could find and take pleasure in knowing that right then, I was one speck on the planet that no one could see, and that if I wanted to I could disappear, vanish into the magical meadow of sun-bleached grass and never have to return to the real world, the world of schoolgirls who wanted nothing to do with me, of clamming up at times when I really needed to speak up, the world of disappointment, of insecurity, and of stony-faced parents who shook their heads at me when they discovered me harbored beneath an end table, parents who didn’t understand that sometimes, I just needed to hide.

...the end.
Hiding felt more natural to me than being out in the open where people could see me and judge me as they pleased. I was born an introvert and grew up an introvert. I developed the insecurity of adolescence several years too early, and it only festered within as I grew.
Once my classmates were old enough to realize that some people could be decided better than others and that they bore the power to exclude, exclude they did. I was stuck on the outside for a good part of my life. I was so used to being pushed away that even when people did open up to me, I didn't trust them and closed up, retreated into my very limited comfort zone and told myself that they were just ridiculing me. I did not believe that anybody of higher social caliber would want to associate themselves with me. My brain had been wired to think that I was an unacceptable being, so I just focused on keeping out of the way.
This self-induced heresy hit a climax in eighth grade. Possible friends slipped through my fingertips like thin silk ribbons, fluttering back into oblivion to find somebody else to befriend. One would-be love dropped to the floor, shattering like a thousand-karat diamond into a thousand useless fragments.
What if I was angry at myself for letting one perfect person waltz in and out of my life, without allowing myself to actually enjoy my time with him, without telling him what I had always meant to tell him, and for lying to him just so that he would never know what I really thought about him?
What if I decided to try again, but what if I was still too afraid? What if the idea that I was unwanted had ingrained itself so deeply into my mind that it had become true? What if I took a leap, and was brought down to a crushing halt with a single word?
After all, it only takes one word to break a heart.

No comments: