you had a fairytale childhood.

I was 19 when my malevolent, skinny bitch of a cousin spat this at me as though it were venom. “Some of us had real lives and real problems” she told me. And suddenly, my room, actually full of bookshelves stocked with fantastical adventures and fairy figurines seemed like a gilded cage. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want her “real problems” of absentee father, hunger and neglectful mother. But I didn’t like feeling as though my entire life was a fantasy, and a fantasy all my own, to boot.

I was born an only child to a lonely mother and a strict father.  Because of their need to keep me in the house, I spent much of my childhood, including weekends and in one case an ENTIRE sad and sweltering summer, alone. There were so many, many days with only the company of piles of princess movies, fairy-tales from across the world and my own imagination.

the first result of this?

a lifetime of incomplete friendships.

I yearn for friends like the groups in Stand By Me and Now&Then. Kids who were there when you first discovered puberty, or a dead body and would have those memories with you forever. I do have friends, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve been bred to do without them. Moving at 4, and 8, and 12 I always had to start over, always had to be “the new girl”. Only, it would be “the new girl who can’t hang out as much because her parents are so strict”. So much so, that eventually, kids wouldn’t ask if I could come to a party, or go to the movies, or spend the night any more.

I thank my parents for raising me to have morals long-lost to most of my generation. I thank them for my insight, scholarly intellect, etiquette. and I’m glad I didn’t end up in some teenage car accident, or pregnant by 15. But, I’d kill to not have my closest high school friends tell me, ten years later, that they remember all the times we were supposed to have fun, right before they jump into a roaring conversation with friend B about yet another night i missed because i was stuck at home.

the second result of this?

I attach myself. I spent so many years feeling like everyone had someone, that if someone comes along, I attach, cling on for dear life.  My (half)sister and I got along, but we never laid in bed sharing our deepest emotions under the covers like the Bennet’s. I was painfully jealous of other sister pairs and hurt that my own sister would think me insignificant, as though I were a classmate she had to keep in touch with all these years. I used to get so excited that she was coming over when we were kids, I’d clean and wait up for hours and hours. And when she got there? She’d mock my excitement, my proper english, my lack of knowledge…. “so, you don’t know what O.P.P means?” And still, I’d worship the ground she walked on. I was never a selfish. quite the contrary, I was so hungry for company I’d let anyone play with me.

and sadly, as a woman who tries her best to assess herself without judging, I’ve realized that this carries over into my romantic life. I don’t automatically, but when I fall in love, i attach myself to my man. i have to schedule time apart because if i wake up in the morning, I’d be by his side day and night. why? because every one has someone in my mind. a soul mate. now, i do believe a soul mate can be a friend, or a sibling. but i wasn’t blessed with anyone close enough to me. there is no nettie to my ceile, no starsky to my hutch. and so i’ve always looked for the romeo to my juliet. believing somewhere was the person who’d have to stick with me through thick and thin.

So in being alone, i became scared of no one wanting to be with me. Friend or lover or family. Or myself.

That’s the worst. Because my SELF is the only one guaranteed to be by my side. Lovely as he is, lovely as my most understanding and closest friends are. I need not cling to, or fear losing them, as much as I need to cling to, and fear losing myself.

Make sense?


2 thoughts on “alone…

  1. My childhood sounds eerily similar to yours, and the outcomes too. I think I moved a lot more than you though, so an additional outcome is that I hate sitting in one place too long. If I’m doing something that has an indefinite time period, I freak out and feel trapped.

    But it’s funny how you speak about your hs experience, b/c from my recollection, you seemed like the “cool” girl that people wanted to be around. I remember when you threw a house party for your birthday. It seemed like every Black person from Palmetto was there, and then some. At that time, and now as well, I was too self-conscious to open myself up to any kind of judgment, in that case, the judgement being ‘who liked me enough to come to my party’. As old the saying is, I never actually follow it, but this is another verification that it is actually true ‘never judge a book by its cover.’

    • wow. i never thought anyone ever thought that of me. and i do remember that as one of the coolest birthdays ever. my 17th. i was scared to death when 9:30 rolled around and no one was there save for my cousins and one of my best friends – and i knew it wasn’t her crowd lol. and i felt much more accepted, and cooler as people came. but here: later that night as the party wound down, i stood in the yard with my then boyfriend as we waved our friends a goodnight – they were all heading to clubs and other party’s and i had curfew – – – on my birthday. still, it was a pretty good night, wasn’t it?

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