Sometimes, when I'm home, I just sit in my room and study the walls, thinking about how much they've changed over the years. How much I've changed. These walls used to be so ugly, with black and white striped wallpaper with a Mickey Mouse border. My entire room was an optical illusion, a Mickey Mouse nightmare, like Disney had thrown up everywhere. I don't really understand that time of my life - why I loved Mickey enough to cover my room with him, instead of posters of the Backstreet Boys, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, the 1997 version of Leonardo DiCaprio...hunks of burnin' love, as they were. Instead, my room was filled with posters of kittens and puppies. Then came Mickey. I didn't even watch his cartoons. I couldn't tell you his history, the birth of his animation, when he met his friend, Donald Duck, when he visited the pet store to pick up Pluto, or the moment he fell in love with Minnie. I only know he was all over my room. I'm sure Minnie was a little jealous.
Passionate childhood whims are funny. My 10-year-old self was all about the moment, all about the pop culture of Mickey Mouse and friends. All about French-braiding my hair and "following my heart" to my 6th grade "boyfriend."
I didn't realize at 10, how much more fun it was to be 5, without boyfriends who only want to play soccer with you at recess, and who only call you because they need to borrow your splash ball to play water baseball at the pool. At 5, I was all about flowers - dandelions, musk thistle, wild daises, you name it. I would wander off to pick them all the time. I'm surprised Mom made it through those years, calm and collected, with me in the ditch all the time, picking wildflowers. My favorite getaway was the lilac bushes right outside our old house. In a close second was the tractor tire sandbox in the backyard, full of cat poop. Don't ask me what I was thinking. Come on, I was a kid!
Along with my teens came the emergence of Teen People. Fitting, right? I put down Laura Ingalls Wilder and picked up the latest magazine, colorful and exciting, with the sparkly Britney Spears on the front. I had braces at this time, too, and I secretly enjoyed them for some reason - maybe because the pain built good character. And, at the time, I wanted to make my Dad proud because he would always toughen me up with that phrase when I scraped my knee on the gravel road (gravel scrapes are the worst!) or sprained my ankle at volleyball practice (I wasn't too terribly upset about that).
High school, for me, was made for the sport of cheerleading. Please don't ask me to reason with the decision to spend all four years of secondary school on the sidelines, trying to pry encouragement out of passionate small-town sports-intensified students and parents when their team is losing. Like pulling teeth, I tell you.
In college, I found the stuff that makes me tick...like everybody predicted. I guess college is supposed to do that. Music, art, writing, just a few of my elements. And now, I realize, they were always there: in the Mickey Mouse cartoon theme song, in the art of arranging flowers in a vase for my Mom, in the process of reading books and magazine to expand my vocabulary. Cool!
My walls are now solid bright colors, tangerine orange and sky blue, sporadically covered with a world map, a constellation chart, National Geographic posters, cloth, origami, and artwork. Photos and shelves of things I truly love for a reason, not because they're cute and fun, popular or easy to love. I do miss being a random in-the-moment passionate curious kid. But, I guess growing up is only...reasonable.
I would like to thank Britney for making me the person I am not today (because at one point, I wanted to be as famous as she), the cat poop in my backyard (because I'm excellent at sniffing it out and avoiding it now), my first "boyfriend," Aaron (because he taught me some awesome soccer skills, among other skills, I don't even remember), the no-longer existent lilac bush in my backyard (because the smell of lilac is now my favorite memory of childhood). And, yes, Mickey, for his help in making my life a terrific optical illusion of an adventure.