June 1, 2012

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When I was in Denver, I stayed with my grandparents (who live in Lakewood, actually), and during the off-times when I wasn’t singing while driving from one happy reunion to another (so great to see everyone!), I sorted through photographs: boxes, envelopes, and willy-nilly stashes. Events and places and people I love lay in neat stacks and crazy piles, capturing various times of our lives, some surprising, some sad, and nearly all sweet.

Of course, my eye lingered longer on those of me and my growing-up days, enjoying anew the moments that have completely vanished from my memory, like running naked in my grandparents’ yard, holding a favorite doll, or crying at my brother’s first birthday party (who knows why?); conjuring other memories that are now just a glimmer, long days spent swimming at Lake Arbor Pool or playing on the jungle gym, tow-headed with summer skin. Then I came to the picture above and was struck, as if by lightening, my circuitry rerouted in one earth-shattering instant.

For nearly all of my youth, someone very close to me called me ugly and every version of FAT imaginable, nearly every single day. After hearing no evidence to the contrary, having crooked teeth (since fixed with braces as an adult), and weighing more than my torturer, I came to believe it. It was reinforced by others, too, strangers, friends, and relatives, who would say I might be prettier if my teeth were straight or if I were skinnier, like those other girls everyone chased after.

I was not the chase-after type. I generally did the chasing and talking and rabble-rousing. I saw no point in standing aside, pretending, or holding back. I was front and center in my likes and find this even more true as I grow older. No surprise there, I should think. Life is short but way too long to put up with other people’s shenanigans and hateful opinions. Seriously.

So when I saw the photo, smiling in my Shaun Cassidy t-shirt, long and lean limbs in denim shorts, my tectonic plates shifted, and so did the truth of my past. It was like meeting someone for the very first time, someone I thought I knew but really didn’t. For that younger me was neither fat nor ugly, but cute and kinda rocked her pseudo-Dorothy Hamill haircut. I cried at the knowledge it brought me and then called the hubster, excited at the discovery and grateful, too, that he’d always seen me that way.

Then I thought of the quotation from Soren Kierkegaard I posted a couple of weeks ago, “…only the truth that builds up is truth for you.” I needed to build that truth up for myself, brick by brick, before it was truly mine, indivisible from the architecture of my soul.