Tuesday, September 25, 2012
when you find your self in the face of bonnie (redux)......
sorry to do a repost - terri's post about "girl crushes" made me think about this.....
i have always been someone who has wondered who i'm supposed to be. i watch others in awe as they effortlessly waltz to a song that i have never heard. for the most part, people really have everything figured out. they don't have to think about creating an identity - apparently they came with one. i feel compelled to try on other people's personalities like sweaters, attempting to feel what its like to know who you are and where you're going. i just have never quite accomplished this without people wondering what the hell was wrong with me.
my first attempt to build a better me came shortly after my 5th birthday. on my first day of school i encountered bonnie and the die was cast. she was everything i was not. i was, at this point in my life described as awkward. my hands and feet were too big for me and i was forever covered in iodine and bandaids from stumbling over myself. mum would say "god, can't you see where you're going"?
(side note - in the 3rd grade my eyes were tested and i was found to be quite near-sighted. so apparently mum, i couldn't see where i was going.)
right before school started, my mum made the decision to have my hair taken back. she had had enough of my long curly hair. mom had this idea that my curls would not come back if my hair was cut close to my scalp and against the curl. her friend joyce carried out her big plan. i must tell you that against the curl and close to the scalp was not my best look. my near military cut was accented with cow licks. not quite enough to form a pattern, just a enough to make people think i was unkempt. but enough about me - bonnie on the other hand was petite and perfect. her limbs matched the rest of her body. she had long pale yellow hair that was rod straight . she had sweater sets and cotton skirts and was shod in penny loafers. i dressed almost exclusively in a blue, slightly too small, snoopy sweatshirt and a tartan kilt held together with a giant safety pin - my massive feet crammed in sneakers. bonnie was quiet and sweet and she never spoke out of turn. but without question her most enviable quality was her delicate nature. she seemed to be constantly in peril and she quickly became the focal point of my little world. it wasn't just me, everybody fretted over bonnie. does bonnie have her mittens? don't show bonnie your cut because she'll faint. the dear little thing also needed a rest after lunch. we all hushed as bonnie lay quietly on the cot at the back of the classroom. how i loved that cot - it was metal and had a grey blanket with red stripes. i longed to stretch out upon it. i tried inventing and carrying out various scenarios that would end with me reposing there and being the object of everyones' pity and concern. sadly, a strong constitution and a lack of acting ability stood in my way. mrs teacher would step over my twitching body as i feigned a nervous spell. she'd be heading to her desk to get the strap. i guess she figured a few quick smacks would bring me around a lot quicker than any old cot.
i tried to be bonnie countless times, i could not be deterred by a strap or the frank bewilderment of my classmates. dammit, i would will myself delicate. my performances reached a fever pitch when bonnie returned to school after having her tonsils out. she practically lived on that cot - with teacher running back and forth with sips of cold water and cool cloths. we all sat on pins and needles wondering if she would live. at recess we would gather to express our concerns and stand crying at the thought of losing our bonnie. i was as worked up as anybody else but at the same time i thought - what an opportunity. imagine all that love and attention. i begged my mother to have my tonsils removed. i tried to fake cough them out. i would repeat, loudly, over and over all day how bad my throat hurt. i would collapse, often and unexpectedly into a careful heap of woe. i made a fool of myself on a daily basis for over a month. bonnie did it so effortlessly and gracefully, during cot visiting hours she could lift up her tiny hand for you to hold and she would tear up when you discussed her impending death.
eventually, the school year ended and bonnie was forgotten but.... as luck would have it on the very first day of school the following year i met janice, a foul mouth, tomboy whose father was in the airforce. new grade, new me.
apparently, these were just the beginning of my near infinite number of lessons on how to find yourself. i can't tell you how many times over the years i have made a fool of myself, suffered public humiliation and made my people wonder "what the hell". bonnie began my quest to evolve through mimicry. i really owe her a lot - although i never achieved my initial objective i did end up with the spotlight shinning brightly on me.... and really, that's all that mattered.
ps i have left bonnie name uncapitalized to preserve her anonymity