Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday Scribblings ~ when we were wee...


When reading both Meg's Sunday Scribblings and Laini's recent "I was once wild, too" post, I have to wonder whether a certain freedom or wildness in our youths is a common feature of creative bloggers. Their stories took me to that magical period of my childhood in that fantastical place called Montreal. We actually lived in a small town called Roxboro, but in our family, "Montreal" has come to mean a particular time in our lives, a time of freedom and exploration, a time of barefeet and spying, a time of ouija boards and pup tents, a time when Suzie and I felt like gypsies. I don't have a lot of pictures from this time. The fuzzy photo above was taken with my very first camera, probably by my Mom. On the left is my best friend, Karen, who lived up the street. Then there's me holding my little brother, Jason, and Suzie holding Shannon.

Within a year of this photo, we moved to Toronto. That summer our parents knew that we would soon be leaving, but instead of telling us, they let us have the best summer ever. I was 12 years old, and I had no rules. I had the ideal summer with my friends. We'd have picnics in the woods at the end of the street, preferably backwards picnics where you ate dessert first. We slept out in tents in our friends' backyards. We'd go to the corner store at 2 in the morning to get more treats. We'd sing at the top of our lungs as we walked down the street with the brashness that only 12-year-old girls can muster.

I always felt free in Montreal. I remember spending entire summers outside and never once putting on shoes. I remember creating games like "Lightness/Darkness" where we could move and run as long as the sun was upon us, but as soon as a shadow struck, we were frozen. I remember posing in our picture window during thunderstorms and yelling, "Thanks for taking my picture!" after every lightning flash. I remember creating a library for all the kids in our neighbourhood. I remember starting a business washing doll clothes. What a disaster! I hung the clothes up to dry, and they all flew away. I remember the night my parents let me go to the street dance all by myself! I remember my friends' older brothers coming up with all sorts of plots to scare us. I remember my first day of French immersion and how little I understood. I remember my first art class designing mushrooms on a piece of cardboard. I remember feeling like my life was ripped away when we moved to Toronto.

In Toronto, people cared what brand of clothing you were wearing. In Toronto, people were actively mean to me. In Toronto, the cool girls tried me on for size but decided I didn't really fit in. I agreed. In Toronto, I was shy and lonely. I made one good friend, Carol, and I am so thankful for her presence in my life then and for many years after that. It took me a year to bounce back and a hard year it was. But by grade 8 I had decided enough was enough. I wanted to do things and have fun. I wasn't going to wait around to be included or invited. I was just going to make things happen. Carol and I started organizing movie outings and water fights. We went to concerts and parties and clothes shopping every Saturday.

When I was wee, I learned what it was to be me, to run wild and dance and shout at storms. And when I grew, I was tested, more than once and still. I was squashed and discouraged and taught that sometimes it may be harder but I can find my joy and be my self. I carry the magic of Roxboro with me.

Suzie & Me ~ Roxboro

12 comments:

chest of drawers said...

A beautiful post...makes me want to be 12 again.

Laini Taylor said...

Jamie, this is so similar to that time in my life!! From the wildness and freedom and power of adolescence, being shunted into that sleeve of convention and childhood cruelty. I think I myself make it sound worse than it was, the Belgium years, but I can't help it because what came before, the Italy years, were so important and perfect. I was about the same age as you when we moved; it was also my twelfth summer that was the epitome of childhood summers. Loved your descriptions!

Jennifer said...

Such cute pics and great story. Sounds like a fun time in Montreal!

Sacred Suzie said...

Oh Jamie! Thank you for alerting me to this post. It makes me so happy and sad at the same time. I have never seen that picture! Me holding Shannon, you Jason and having Karen there...

Me and hubby had a good laugh seeing our current coffee table and end tables in the photo. I guess I carry Montreal with me too, LOL.

Yes, it was the best time of our lives wasn't it? I will never forget us being gypsies and living wild and free. I have yearned for that my whole life.

I hope we both have found homes where we are right now and never let go of that wild spirit and crazy lives. We are Montreal.

Love you!

paris parfait said...

Love your descriptions of times both wonderful and turbulent! Great post.

beansprout said...

There is a question that a wise woman I know always asks, "What is the place/land that most shaped you?" It tells us so much and so does your post. Be well.

gkgirl said...

i loved this...
the resilience
and determination...
wow...

great post
:)

megg said...

It's funny - I had a move that squashed me too. That sort of wildness and living fully all stopped with one move and one mean teacher and not fitting in all at the same time. I wonder if all girls go through that time of deepest loss of wild. I guess our gift is that we all seem to be able to see it for what it was and to look for that spark again. Claudia's right - I do want to be twelve again. xoxo

AnnieElf said...

Your story is marvelous and so bittersweet for me. I thought of the seven moves I made in my first 12 years. Gypsy lift forms you in unexpected ways. Your parents were so great to give you that carefree summer.

liz elayne said...

Jamie, this is wonderful. i love this wild full of fun childhood you describe...
and this last paragraph...it just says it all. how we grow up and are sometimes "squashed" but we carry the true wildness inside us.
love it.

eliza said...

"sometimes it may be harder but I can find my joy and be my self."

thanks for this, i needed the reminder today.

tara dawn said...

I love this post...your descriptions of life in Montreal and then life in Toronto...the emerging of your self, your identity forming in those moments when you spoke to lightening and entertained nature by getting "stuck" in her shadows. What a beautiful depiction of your youth!
xoxo