Me as an 8 year old: Lanky as a bean pole with scratched knees, and sun blonde hair. Riding a red wagon down a washed out gully, full tilt. Climbing loquat and eucalyptus trees up to their highest branches, never falling. Rolling down the long stretch of grassy hill again and again and again. Keeping swallowtail caterpillars in a box. Becoming an expert mark with the bow and arrows I carved myself. Telling myself storiesâ€”outloud. Drinking root beer floats in ceramic mugs. Running naked with a herd of cattle in Covelo, CA when it was so hot, mirages would spring up everywhere at a distanceâ€¦. And rescuing this squirrel from our cat. He became my pet for the year. His name was Chipperâ€”because he liked eating corn chips, of course. Heâ€™d ride around on my shoulders, under my hair, or in a pouch I made.
Me as a teenager: Lanky and uncoordinated. Getting curves and waging a war against them. Scratched knees, a Lifeguard tan, sun and peroxide bleached hair. Riding around in a mint green Toyota Tercel with my best friend from high school eating cherries. Climbing cliffs at Goat Rock, never falling. Kissing boys again and again and again. Reading Dostoyevsky, Soloviev, Dante and Tolstoy for pleasure. Drinking beer, hating my parents and lying a lot. Writing stories---in my journal. Swimming naked at Salmon Creek beach with friends. â€¦.And keeping chickens (7-8th grade), a rabbit, another rabbit, a dog, and Manx named Tomten.
Me in college: Lanky and mostly coordinated. Trying to learn how not to hate my curves. Scratched knees, East Coast pallor, my first pedicure and professionally highlighted hair. Riding my road bike 500 miles from upstate NY to Canada. Riding my mountain bike all over the woods. Climbing rock walls, sometimes falling. Kissing boys again and again and again, until I found the right one. Reading Diddion, Ellison, Kozol, and Morrison. Drinking wine from long stemmed glasses, learning to be honest with my parents and love myself. Writing poems and stories so furiously and copiously, I was sure Iâ€™d die of thirsting for words if I stopped. Running naked into the autumn waves at Harkness beach with my boyfriend (DH!)â€¦ And taking care of a python, a gecko, and an oyster toadfish (a work-study gig at a science center), milking 40 head of cows at a dairy (summer of my freshman year), and watching swans in the cove near my college.
Me now: Lanky and as coordinated as Iâ€™ll ever be. Finally loving my body for what it does: give birth, run long miles, hold me up right, give me pleasure; rather than for how it looks. Shin splints, East Coast pallor, and no-highlights pony tail. Riding the bike at the gym for cross training. Making plans to spend the summer rock climbing with my best friend from college. Kissing my husband and my beautiful Bean again and again and again. Reading Goldberg, Lamott, Kingsolver, Oliver, Illende and Bly. Drinking lattes for survival in the morning, loving my mother, missing my father, and trusting myself. Daring to write like my voice matters, and feeling certain that Iâ€™d die of thirsting for words if I stopped. Sleeping nakedâ€¦.And dreaming of keeping bees, and chickens; rescuing the neighborhood stray cat, missing my dog (with DHâ€™s parents in NJ until we move) and tolorating the constant butt-first affection of my male cat, Mojo (why, why must cats be like that??)
Some things change with time. Other things never seem to.