Sunday, April 16, 2006
Sunday Scribblings #3
When I was wee... I was a Navy brat, and lived in eight houses in three countries and one island over eighteen years.
I learned to swim before I could walk, had my own grass skirt, and loved to eat sand. We lived at the edge of sugar cane fields and sometimes fat cane spiders got into the house. My older brother and I were wild naked natives and the other Navy wives clucked their tongues at my mother who told them to, “shut up, you old biddies.” I was attacked by a flamingo, but I have no lingering phobia of flamingos.
Treehouse. My dad’s stories of hanging upside-down beneath Monterey pier collecting alloy samples for his Master’s thesis, when a sea lion suddenly surfaced for a nose-to-nose introduction. Jaws had just come out in theaters and for a heart-stopping second, Papa was sure he was dead. My much-anticipated baby sister was born and turned out not to be nearly as much fun as I had hoped. She grew up soooo slowwwwlllly and didn’t know how to play any games and cried when I sang to her.
Paradise: a cul-de-sac with kids in every house and a lake full of snapping turtles across the street. I had best friends on either side, three houses in a row. We were all gymnasts and the sprawling yards knew many back-handsprings over those few years. So many snow forts, so many humid summer evenings of hide and seek.
Ah, Italy, golden Italy. Being a powerful creature, roaming and leaping off cliffs, learning Italian, learning to flirt, being unassailably innocent and filled with wild daydreams.
For a long time all I took note of was that Belgium wasn’t Italy, and I mourned. It was cold, and the people were cold. I remember Belgium for my brother’s early-teen troubles that paved the way for greater late-teen troubles, and I also remember it as the place my power dissolved. I think this happens to so many girls of this age: fourteen? We cross into some new country inside ourselves where we’re no longer Queen, but just another awkward citizen with a succession of bad haircuts. For me, this quite literally involved crossing into a new country, so that’s what Belgium is in my memory, despite the good things: the place that ended that golden, roaming, powerful time of childhood.
Posted by Laini Taylor at 10:22 AM