Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anita's Attic: My Own Backstory

Backstory is a funny thing. We all have one, characters and real people alike. You can't get here from nowhere. Boring, exciting, traumatic, lonely...we all have a story to tell that got us where we are today. As I get older I’m getting more sentimental about my memories, and about myself as a little girl. I had so many fears as a kid. I don't know why, because I came from a loving, wonderful family. But I suffered in silence, never telling anyone. I kept them hidden, because I didn't want to worry anyone. That's a sad irony. 
My family would have been horrified to know how much I worried about stupid things, just as I would  now, to think that one of my kids would suffer something like that and not come to me for help. But my kids are a lot different than I was. They're far more well adjusted for one thing, and they're independent and confident and have no trouble whatsoever telling me what's wrong with their world. In fact, it appears that I'm to blame for most of it. My fourteen year old son still remembers that I threw out his Mello Yello that he wasn't finished with when we were traveling for Christmas vacation seven years ago. And to hear my daughter you would think I'm the cause of all her woes. Seriously, I have great kids. Awesome kids. But they're very vocal! 

It’s not that I didn’t have fun as a kid. I did. My cousin Karen was my best friend. We were closer than twins. Sometimes I think we shared one brain. We had so much fun. We didn’t sit in the house playing video games. We made stuff. We got dirty and used our imaginations, whether it was making furniture for our Barbie Dolls out of whatever we could find, singing into hairbrush microphones, or building dirt paths to ride our bikes on. I remember when my grandmother gave us a bag of quilt scraps so we could sew clothes for our Barbies. It was like winning the lottery. 

I think one reason for my nostalgia of late is that my own daughter is old enough for me to really connect with, and even though her personality is different, I still see so much of me in her. I suspect another reason can be blamed on my writing. I've grown so used to building characters and poignant backstories that the writer in me wishes she could go back and revise a few scenes. If only I could time travel. 
It's bizarre, but I do find myself wishing I could go back and comfort the little girl that I was back then, as I might comfort my own daughter. I want to tell her what a waste of time it is to be afraid, to let go and live because there’s a wonderful future waiting for her. 

They say your life flashes in front of you before you die. I suspect that the older we get, we experience a slow motion version of this as we learn to appreciate our pasts, good and bad, and the things we've experienced. 

Does anyone else look at their childhood through writer's eyes and wish they could go back and revise a few things? 

1 comment:

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