Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year Reflections | A Walking Child

I was thinking about New Year's resolutions when I realized I have a small aversion to space-less tasks and obligations.  Especially those ridged and timed, as opposed to flexible.  I think it has a lot to do with my mother trying to raise me.  To mold me into a strung and responsible person (her own secreted concerns included).  However, I grew responsible at the cost of keeping everything–including my feelings/emotions–walled to myself.  And responsible in the sense that during my 20's, I had a hard time saying no to unwanted commitments.  
So as a child I suffered a little; unable to just be me because of someone else’s idea of how I should be.  And the same came true as I grew and became angry at myself, people, and my stifling environment.  I’ve gotten better at being who I am and sharing it.  Especially in the past three years.  I came from a wearer place, so the second I hit thirty, I didn’t have emotional space for the baggage from myself and most certainly others.  There were things I needed to do and express.  Things I needed to achieve for myself.  Things I needed to reach in others.  No more emotional drainage.
Yet, the responsible and disciplined me remains.  Like a cage almost.  Ingrained.  Focused.  Steep in my character.  Still arriving at a familiar place outside of my vision.  But pushed in a better, emotionally healthy and fulfilling direction.  Doubtful at times.  A struggle.  But a direction, nonetheless.  Three years here has taught me that some lack direction.  So I am grateful. 
So it’s funny how the Universe works.  The picture I’m sharing is one I took in November–long before I got down to write this post.  I was leaving the public library when I wanted to capture the turn of fall in the trees.  You know, finding yourself enraptured by fall's afternoon glow as old memories flood in.  And flood it did the minute I realized what was behind the tree.  
Behind the tree used to be a high school.  A school once the only black high school in the city before desegregation.  But I won’t get into the history and research.  Only know that it has one.
In the late 80s, I went there for a Head Start Program.  By then, the school had turned into a community center for family care assistance and us “project” kids.  But I went there alone, like so many kids of working parents.  My mom would drop me off at my grandma’s place in the mornings before a van came to take me to the community center.  She must've had one of those 4-5am shifts.  
But I remember feeling small in this place.  Tiny.  But sure with my book bag.  I remember walking down its entrance hallway, where windows were on both sides.  My right were windows facing outside.  To my left were windows opened to a crowded cafeteria.  I would look in, but never actually wanted to go inside.  Too many people.  Also, I remember some woman trying to help me brush my teeth.  When I told her I could do it myself, she stepped back.  And I can see the restroom so clearly.  There had to be three or four of us lined up against the sink while the adults watched from the mirrors.  Strangers, really.  
Let me do it myself.
I still see a lot of child-me in myself.  Responsibly taking myself where I had to be, with my book bag and toothbrush.  Following the line.  Always walking and observing.  Studying people and things.  Looking through windows, left to right; right to left.  Between the outside world and the inside crowd, and always wanting the outside where I could run and just be free.  Willing to do what I could on my own.  But always, always following the given line.
Isn't it funny how we reflect on some of our earliest memories, realizing after all these years nothing has changed?  Another strong memory that kind of called to my character was my camping experience.  Maybe for another reflective post.
Do you have any clear memories that call to your character then and now?  Share them in the comments below.

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