Rachel's childhood self-story
The youngest of five, I often felt like I had to fight to be heard; like if I didn't speak up, there wouldn't be any milk left by the time my mother was done filling everyone else's glass. Of course, this wasn't the case at all. In fact, in our house, there was always plenty of milk and everything else to go around.
Ours was a loud, busy home with lots of activity and a phone that never seemed to stop ringing. There was hockey and figure skating, sleepovers and teenage drama, and Andy Gibb and Fleetwood Mac and Kiss. Adding to the frenzy, there was never any shortage of drop-in guests, usually the neighborhood kids who all seemed to feel very much at home at my house. We had a sort of unspoken open-door policy. I often felt swallowed up, buried, like I needed air.
My dirt bike provided a great escape for me. I could ride the trails for hours by myself. It gave me the complete freedom I needed and lots of elbow room. It seemed like the one thing I could have that I didn't have to fight for or share. I also spent a lot of time in my room, corresponding with my hundreds of pen pals, listening to music my older siblings made fun of, or drawing floor plans of my dream house.
My father was a successful blue-collar entrepreneur, well known and well liked, active in the community, or so I've heard.
He was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer at the age of forty-two (when I was four-ish) and while in remission, he spent all his time working to amass the fortune that would sustain his family after his demise. I didn't get to know him well. He became extremely sick when I was nine, and the two years that followed were hell on my mother and those around me who were old enough to understand what was really going on. Everything changed. People stopped coming by. I had many, many chores to do every day. My mother was at the hospital all the time. And I became very familiar with the drone of the refrigerator. The house was suddenly dead quiet. I felt like I was always alone. Then he died.
I still had my dirt bike, and my figure skating, and my friends, and student council, and pen pals, and music, and volleyball, and tons of extra-curricular stuff. I was a top student and extremely popular though I didn't realize it, and I had amassed my own little fortune in coping mechanisms.
Life went on. Things changed but they didn't necessarily become worse or better from my perspective.
Reality caught up with me a few years later in the prime of my teens. I fell victim to pain and anger, resentment and rebellion. I dropped everything that meant anything to me and went in pursuit of new avenues I thought would make me happy.
After a few blurry years I'm happy to recall very little of, I returned to my old self, and got myself a new dream to shoot for. Having finally found something to be passionate about, I left the stillness and routine of small-town life and headed to the city to make it big in the movie business. The rest, as they say, is history.