The questions y'all have asked me have been so completely surprising, and inspirational, really. It's going to take some time to get through them, but I'm gonna love the process, and I hope y'all will too. I'm just poking through right now, picking the ones that really speak to me, call me to address them in that moment. Bear with me, I'll get to all of 'em, eventually.
Mari, from My Little Corner, and one of the sweetest people I've met in Bloggityville so far, asked me about what I was like as a kid. Her question really pulled hard at me, as I have a tendency toward nostalgia, you know, and I am just in such a reflective place right now, in general.
I think I know quite a bit about you, but I am wondering what you were like as a kid. Did you drive your Mom and the teachers crazy, where you angelic or maybe a bit of a mix? I'm betting on the mix. I think you were a class clown, but a sweet one!
Well Mari, I s'pose it'd all really depend on who you asked and when you asked 'em. My Mom currently says she THANKS HER LUCKY STARS that my sister and I were both very good, obedient children who never gave her a moment's trouble. Well. That is not perzackly the way I recall it. I remember that my Mom referred to me as a "stubborn, strong-willed child," and what's more, I believe that she was pretty much dead on. I am still right stubborn and strong-willed, which you may have guessed already.
Here's another little secret. No, I was not a particularly funny kid. I was painfully, achingly shy, for the most part, unless someone really took the time and put in the effort to push, pull and drag me out of my little shell. I was one of those kids who probably seemed scared of my own voice around strangers, and my poor mother spent the first 16 or so years of my life saying, "Speak up Megan, he/she can't hear you." Ironically, though, at home, my gums flapped constantly, and I recall many times when she would sigh in exasperation and say, "Child, do you EVER stop talking?"
Me, I was a walkin' contradiction.
I have loved writing since I was a very little girl, too. I wrote volumes of poetry and short stories and notes. Mom encouraged that part of me, and had me keep a journal starting BEFORE I could even write. I'd draw a picture and tell Mom what it was about and she'd write down what I said - I still have that journal somewhere, I think.
One of my first poems, written in pink marker on a piece of tiny loose leaf paper from a little black three-ring binder I got in my stocking from Santa one year, I wrote about a beautiful solitary oak tree that stood on a little hill in the median of I-85 just across the Georgia/South Carolina border. We drove past The Tree about a hundred times a year, headed from Atlanta, where my family lived, to Clemson, South Carolina, where my Grandmama and Grandaddy FriedOkra lived. Went up there for every home Clemson game, for family birthdays, holidays and summer weekends on the Lake Hartwell, to be with my Aunt, Uncle and my two cousins who were as close as sisters to my sister and me.
The Tree, to my sister and me, was the first sign we were "almost there." When that Tree came into view, after what'd seem like forever and a day in the car (it's barely a 2 hour trip), I'd get butterflies in my tummy and start putting on my shoes and packing up all my car-travel paraphenalia and sit up TALL in my seat so I could watch the road carefully for the rest of the trip - watch as we passed each subsequent landmark, watch as we passed the South Carolina Welcome Center, watch as we crossed over the beautiful and winding expanse of Lake Hartwell, one, two, maybe three times, watch as we pulled off 85 onto the Clemson exit, watch as we roared out across the countryside and then right up and through the Clemson campus, past Death Valley (the Tigers' football stadium), past the old Esso Club where we'd buy candy the next morning with the dollars Grandmama would shell out to us, fresh and clean and full of promise, and on up to my Grandaddy's house, perched high above the sweetest part of the lake. Oh, and when our tires scrunched to a stop in the gravel on the road above Grandaddy's front yard, I'd be overcome with excitement to see my Aunt and Uncle's car there too, and to know that my cousin, only two weeks younger than me, was already waiting inside -- my best pal, my confidante, my very first little soul-mate.
And it all started with The Tree, which, in itself, regardless of what it symbolized to my little mind, also already triggered in me a distinct feeling of loneliness and isolation that was painfully familiar to this shy, quiet child - this stubborn, introverted pixie of a girl:
The tree stands so lonely
in its place
It makes tears
come to my face.
-- FriedOkra, circa 1972
That's who I was, Mari. It's who I still am, deep inside, too, I suppose. Time and experience have coaxed me out of my shell and I've even found I can be happy and comfortable (sometimes a bit too comfortable) and even loud, in a spotlight. But I don't think that lone oak and I have ever completely parted company in our deepest souls.
The Tree still stands in the same place, too. I've pointed it out to Al and Bean as we've made that same drive, from Atlanta up I-85 and into the easy, rolling foothills, through somewhat misty eyes. It's not so alone anymore, either, as a growth of brush, saplings and smaller oaks now encircle its base.
Sigh. Talk about poetic.