I was inspired to write a post on this after reading an essay on the same subject on Thought Catalog
I grew up on a playground, surrounded by other little girls in plaid navy jumpers. I’d just started third grade at a new school and watched them all screaming, laughing, chasing each other while I trudged around the exterior, by myself. I’d never known lonely before that.
I grew up in the cafeteria, sitting with nine other boys and girls at a round table after being asked one of those questions for which there really is no answer. “You should talk more…why are you so quiet?” one of them asked. They all looked at me. I don’t remember my response, but I do remember quickly excusing myself to get some frozen yogurt so they wouldn’t see me cry.
I grew up in the dark, dank theater of my school. An older girl conspiratorially whispered to me: “He talks about you every time you’re on stage. He thinks you’re hot.” I remember thinking “Wait, me?” as my cheeks flushed.
I grew up in a parking lot, standing outside my yellow Beetle. Finally telling him (after years and years) that I liked him. His chagrined response of “What, really…you?” crushed me.
I grew up lying in the grass with my friends in the quad of my high school, the sun warming our upturned faces. We were all wearing stage makeup and our hair was curled and pinned and hairsprayed; it was before the evening performance of South Pacific. I remember thinking “Oh, this is what it means to be happy.” Someone captured our photograph.
I grew up in his bedroom, sitting next to him on one of the twin beds, after he said “I love you” much too soon.
I grew up in a shoebox of a dorm room on a Friday night. Alone. Looking out the window at the stately academic buildings on campus, the tall pines, the snow-covered quad. It was everything I’d thought I wanted. But I remember realizing at that moment “Oh yes, this is what loneliness feels like.”
I grew up at a desk in a hallway, sitting at a computer all day. Reading food blogs, trying to look busy, completely disheartened by what my new, “adult” life apparently meant.
I grew up walking to the farmer’s market one afternoon in spring as I listened to that song on repeat. It was before Daylight Savings had begun, so the sun was already low in the sky, casting dark shadows on the sidewalk. Green buds were just starting to bloom in the trees. I finally made a choice I didn’t even know I’d been trying to talk myself out of for months. The realization settled deep into my stomach as I passed the old Carnegie library in Mt. Vernon Square, all marble and columns. I continued to the market where I bought a bunch of zinnias and a wedge of cheese and brushed away tears.
I grew up in a basement apartment. I arrived late and we watched episodes of Top Chef and drank cheap red wine out of mugs. I remember asking myself “What the fuck are you doing?”
I grew up on the floor of a closet. Crumpled in a ball after receiving a series of texts that made me change the way I saw someone I thought I knew.
I grew up in a bar, at a party. Hours in. Hearing something that was said about me, then immediately hearing another person’s unkind editorial on the matter. Shocked at how shitty people can be. I remember promising myself not to trust so easily, to keep my guard up more.
I grew up at brunch one Sunday, surrounded by friends and inappropriate conversations and laughter. The food was fine, there were bagels and lox, hash browns…I had a pizza with an egg on top. It was one of those days that gained a gripping momentum as the afternoon progressed. We eventually ended up at “our bar,” me with my characteristic vodka soda in hand. But it was before that, it was somewhere around my second frozen bellini that I remember thinking “Oh yes, this is happy, this is what I was looking for.”
I grew up there and there and there. All those places, moments shaped and continue to shape me.