Essay: One Thread through a Life
One Thread through a Life
There is a creature in me that I have tried my best to kill, but still it lives on, ruining me slowly from the inside. It is a merciless beast that springs upon me when I least expect it, overtaking me with its innate power over my soul. I call the thing First-Grade-Kira, and it is a version of myself that I have done my best to smother out of existence. But she is an integral part of me, this six and seven year old monster, as much a part of me as Painfully-Emo-Thirteen-Year-Old-Kira or Sixteen-and-Promiscuous-Kira; just as important as the woman I will be at eighty, recalling my life from a rocking chair, or the infant I was, cradled in my mother’s arms during the Flood of ’93. But sometimes I wish First-Grade-Kira wasn’t part of the mix.
To start off with, First-Grade-Kira is very annoying.
She is a know-it-all and a teacher’s pet, and she loves school more than anyone. In fact, she probably loves everything more than everyone. Her hand is always raised and she takes great pride in every construction-papered award she gets in class. Full of boundless enthusiasm, she surely irritates most people around her.
A translation of First-Grade-Kira’s daily journal entry on March 30, 2000: I like each and everyone in this school. Read the newspaper you got yesterday. You will see the word ‘Marion Elementary School’. Have you seen any green leafs? I like meat.
FGK wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up, and her favorite colors to wear are khaki green and beige. She knows a lot about dinosaurs and Egyptian culture, and she has read every book there is about kittens, puppies, and horses in the Marion Elementary School Library. When boys in her neighborhood massacre worms with the rough edges of bricks, watching with delight as their insides turn into outsides, she yells at them to stop and writes in her diary, crying, that she hopes the worms come back through karma into very rich and powerful people, and that the neighborhood bullies come back as worms.
I am glad that no one got left out on some cakes. Happy Birthday Allen. I did six laps. I know a different God than ours. Buddha. Maybe I’ll get different birthday cake.
For being a very small and scrappy creature, FGK contains in her tiny body an insane amount of love and affection, which culminates into a crush on Ryan D., the cute and funny red-haired boy in class. It’s as if all the love she has received from her supportive parents, her spoiling grandparents, and the think-positive-TV programming she grew up on is combined in her feelings for this one freckled, funny kid.
Her first love hits her at just six years old, but it comes with the same intensity that occurs again and again in her life. Ryan D. is the funniest boy in the world, and he’s the only one for her. When she gets home from school she jumps from couch cushion to couch cushion like a rabbit, shouting at the top of her lungs a freestyle song about how great Ryan is. She taunts him by shoving her Klaussen pickle in his face at lunch time, just to see him act all grossed out. They play together at recess every day, and when he is absent, she sullenly finds someone else to play with, but they could never replace Ryan. In May, when the class goes on a field trip to the St. Louis Zoo, FGK and Ryan get put in the same group, which causes her heart to flutter. They run off together in the Monkey House, and when Ryan sings a lullaby to a baby lemur sleeping against the glass cage, FGK’s young heart breaks in two.
I continued to be friends with Ryan throughout high school, and he now knows about my intense crush, which died off at about fifth grade. It’s laughable now, but I’m happy my first-grade hopes didn’t work out, because he ended up living in Florida, whereas I will not end up living in Florida..
I know what 5-0 equals. It is 5. A lot of people said my butterfly was good. I love Valentine’s Day. Have a kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss kissy Valentine’s day. I might go to my grandma’s. Today I play with Ryan. Today I am happy.
FGK did not survive the pressures of being a pre-teen or adolescent. She retreated into the darkest corner of my psyche as being cool and fitting in became the real reason for going to school, and with the happy days of Marion Elementary School, cartoon character lunch boxes, and story time behind her, FGK withered and receded. Yet still she haunts me. Still I pay more attention to cats and dogs at parties than people. I once even went off in a corner and started playing with someone’s pet turtles, and FGK was devilishly thrilled. Still I get irrationally upset at the slightest hint of meanness, even if I don’t speak out against it as much as FGK would have. There are still a couple of times when a cute and funny boy has been cause enough for me to sing and dance around my home. Okay. More than a couple of times. But for the most part, anyone meeting me today might never guess that a sliver of my soul is possessed by a demon, one in a Hall Monitor Badge and khaki cargo pants, pockets overflowing with rocks and bird feathers. I am now slightly cynical, disinterested in those around me, and reasonably skeptical. In short, I am an adult.
I have a cat. I love my brother. We have an Arthur game. I love the world. I love everyone.
As an adult, I fear the world and am made well aware of its limitations. I would love to love everyone, and even if I do in some abstract sense, I constantly catch myself judging people and finding fault in them. Thanks to the advent of social networking, I get to see my peers in all kinds of various stages of self-involvement, and even engage in it myself. It’s hard to maintain faith in humanity when you’ve just scrolled past a photo a girl took of herself pouting in class or a status update from a person with food, shelter, water, money, friends, family, and entertainment complaining loudly about a homework assignment or a flat tire. A preachy FGK in me shakes a fist at the air, and wants to yell at the people behind these posts to be grateful for their life, and to love everyone, and to love the world. But the twenty-year-old me does nothing, and just adds another tally point to the “humanity is doomed” column.
While sometimes I would like for FGK and her positivity to persevere, I think the world is too brutal for her. If she couldn’t handle worm slaughter, she would certainly struggle when her classmates post pictures dressed as burning Twin Towers and an airplane for a couple’s costume. She probably would have been stunned that people could act with such little compassion. After the shock wore off, she probably would have been angry, on the edge of outraged. Written a poem about it, sent a letter. Prayed to God. Or Buddha. But I’ve seen more than she has, and even if it stings some sense of right and wrong I carry deep beneath my skin, I shrug it off, knowing people will do anything for a laugh or attention. I wish they wouldn’t, but they do, and unlike FGK I don’t want it to bother me.
FGK was a small girl with grand intentions and lots of love. For that, I can say I’m proud to have been her for a while, bad haircut and embarrassing eagerness aside. Hell, for all the grief I’ve given her here, I like her a lot better than other people I’ve been – like the girl at sixteen who lied to her friends and snuck out with boys who were no good or the college student at eighteen, picking fights with her boyfriend, putting off homework and having no fun. I like who I am now, and even if I try to repress it, FGK is a big part of that. She was a part of me that had seen mostly good in the world, that people still made an effort to talk sweetly to, and that had only been told she was a special snowflake, and so was everybody else. That’s a part you can never get completely back once you lose it.
I love a quote from Margaret Atwood. “Everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.” I suppose I’ve always had that sensation, even as far back as when I was First-Grade-Kira. Although the outside world sees us by our age, our ranking of child, teenager, or adult, and greets us with certain assumptions, we are much more than any of that. There is something in us that never changes, but grows and shifts with us through each stage of life. Some call it a soul, while others would be practical and define it as personality. For me it feels like a thread, connecting all these vastly varied people I’ve been in my life to one unchanging place, a voice in my head as I fall asleep each night. Even if the outside world is too cruel for her, I keep FGK alive inside me, giving her a place to view the world in wonder, her classmates with love, and life as an exciting freedom, not a heavy burden adults wear with wrinkles in their foreheads.
We are having hermit crabs in our class. My friend is everyone. I may sit by Brittney and her dad. I can’t wait until summer break! I love myself
Non-Fiction with Dr. Barron
December 5th, 2013