Thursday, July 12, 2007

Skater Chick

When asked when it was that I first met her, I couldn't say at first. I couldn't think of a time when she hadn't been present in my life, but I couldn't remember when she had first entered it. I don't really remember her in elementary school, but I'm sure she was there, somewhere lurking, perhaps waiting to pull me outside to play. Or maybe not? I was a relatively serious kid, mature for my age, and very focused. I didn't really have space in between school, after-school activities, baby-sitting, and hanging out with my friends for a punk, teen-aged skater-chick with short spiky hair and baggy pants who just wanted to have fun, chill out and relax. She would have been very different from the girl I was back then.

My earliest memories of her are from middle school. I spent lazy afternoons watching soaps, making meringues, and devouring books one after the next, when I should have been working on papers, reading "assigned" books, or studying for tests. I did things last minute, and I did them well, and she helped me.

It was her idea to stand out in the snow in bare feet early in the morning to get a chill, so that I would have an excuse to stay home from school for just a few extra hours on the days that papers were due. She convinced me that I didn't need to start writing until midnight, and she was proved right when I got one good grade after the next after staying up all night. She brought me packs of spearmint trident gum, smarties, neccos, M&Ms, diet cokes, pizza, coffee, and anything else I needed to stay motivated; anything else I needed to make the final push - the only push - bearable. She made cramming fun, and I did well at the cramming, so the system worked.

Through middle school, high school, and college, she was an unquestionable ally. Infrequently seen amidst my schedule of studying, waiting tables, and (in college) partying, she pulled me away from my work when I needed her to. She was resourceful, imaginative, and very persuasive, and she came up with amazingly creative ways to buy me more time to do the things she and I both wanted to do.

The relationship worked so well for so many years. I was grounded, focused and (felt) very much in control (of everything). Giving in to her whims was something I could easily afford. Sometimes, following her lead brought me temporary moments of stress, but I worked well under pressure, always got everything done, always did well, and with her also had time to experience life and have fun. It seemed like a perfect, balanced match, and for the longest time I never questioned it. She was just a part of my experience, someone who forced me to carve out space to enjoy life when I was least able to do that.

If I'm completely honest, I think the relationship worked as well as it did because she had less influence back then. She was a constant presence, an always willing partner in crime. But, back then I wasn't all that into rebelling against what was expected of me, because I expected it of myself. I was my own worst task master. Back then, she provided a welcome respite. She was the bad influence that was good for me, because I was so focused and in control that the risk of me falling prey to any influence, bad or good, in more than a passing fashion was such a remote possibility.

Back then, I felt so in control that the idea of being "out of control" never crossed my mind. Granted, that was before I turned 30, before ice cream started stick to my body, before a series of relationships self-combusted, before two dream jobs turned nightmarish, before I had really loved, and before I had lost anything precious to me. It was before I grew up and realized how much of life is completely out of my control.

I had goals, dreams, an unswerving belief in myself and the future, insulating walls around my heart and body, and a clear path that I followed unerringly. I was disciplined, diligent, and wholly determined to succeed. It would have taken far more then one teen-aged skater chick to lead me astray. At 12 and 18, I was so much more together than her.
Now, not so much.

3 comments:

Sparky Duck said...

One of those posts I am hopelessly confused on, just because Im lacking a clear payoff, but hell it was beautifully written.

Starshine said...

Hi Buttercup,

I liked this post because it is an honest self-assessment. I remember myself in high school...I saw things so much more black and white then.

Life can be really messy sometimes, and when I think I'm so in control...that is such an illusion! That is when I'm grateful that God is in control...cause I'm so not!

Hugs to you,
Starshine

Buttercup said...

Sparky, Thanks! I'll give you a hint. It's an ever present aspect of me.

Starshine, Sometimes I really wish that I could believe absolutely that someone else is in control... As it is, I've at least come around to knowing that I'm not in control of many things, so that's progress! WELCOME BACK!