When I was in grade 5, going into grade 6, my teacher hosted an open house for incoming students to our gifted class. We said a few words about the program, and then there was time for us to talk to the younger students less formally, tell them how we really felt. My best friend and I were going through a musicals phase at the time (a phase that lasted several years) and were stuck on Grease. We had it memorized.
And we proved it, making one girl listen to us recreate an entire scene.
This has been stuck in my head for a while now. I can picture what I was wearing, where we were standing, the chaos in the room behind us as we were lost in our own little world, quoting our favourite movie. I was so excited to be the older half of our split class, to show the incoming grade 5s how things were done, to warn them about the French teacher and show them where we hung out at recess. I felt like I belonged, and I wanted to show that off. I was sure, steady-footed, confident.
Like most childhood things, the school year, the pride in being gifted, the musicals phase, and that friendship have all ended, and I’m left with the ghosts of these memories. I often wonder if that person remembers the same things as I do: the musicals, our annual March Break trip to the Mountain Plaza Mall, the play we wrote, getting our first period at the same time. I wonder if she has ghosts of our childhoods, if she looks back and marvels at how much things have changed.
Everything has changed, in a normal and natural way. Everything is different than I thought it would be. I’m not so sure-footed anymore. My ten-year-old self never would have predicted that I’d end up here, with these accomplishments and failures, with these relationships, with these ambitions. Steady ten-year-old Linneah certainly would not have pictured herself hiding in the attic of her office crying over decisions she wasn’t ready to make.
That’s what I did today, guys. I had to make a tough decision, pass on an opportunity I was hoping and praying for, and I was overwhelmed with the weight of what I was giving up. What if it’s not the right call? What if I just messed up my future?
And then I found a poem (and called my mom), written by Morgan Harper Nichols. It’s a love letter to myself, to Linneah as a child who thought she had it all figured out and was devastated when she realized she didn’t, and to Linneah now who is afraid she never will.
Here’s part of it (the full text can be found here x):
There are so many days I wonder about my old friend, hope she’s doing well, send something good into the universe hoping it lands on her. I am certain she doesn’t think about me like this, which I don’t mind. The ghosts of our childhood love are friendly ones, and I’m happy to have shared them with her.
It took me a lot of years to stop wishing for the confidence and intimacy of that friendship, to find someone to replace that relationship with, but what I’m realizing now is that it’s not so much the intimacy I was craving as the certainty that came along with it. When I was ten, I knew who I was and who I was going to be, and I knew who would be by my side.
I was wrong on all counts.
August will be August, and it has a lot of big and exciting and scary things in store for me, and I will lean into it knowing that I don’t have it figured out. I will find peace in that, somewhere.