So much of who I am can be mapped out with X’s marking the spots where I was and where I am now. I’ve been thinking about the moments that led me to the right here and now. Some moments lasting longer than others, there are a few that I know made me who I am:
People ask me why this is my favorite movie. No one gets the warm and fuzzies from it, quite the opposite, most get chills down their spine when they think about the shark’s porcelain teeth coming to the surface of the water. When I think of this movie, I think of ducking behind my blue and white plaid couch before the century turned and I lost my Papa. Papa, my dad, and my brother were watching it one day and I was playing with toys and half watching. This must not have been the first time they watched it in front of me because I begged for a warning before Quint would get eaten by the shark. When they told me it was coming, I ducked behind the couch squeezing my ears so I couldn’t hear his shrills. This was how I learned that I do NOT do well with people in pain, even if it is just fake blood in movies.
Until a few years ago, my mom was horrible at answering her cell phone (yet I get yelled at for not answering now). One night when I was around age 10 and my mom was sporting a Nextel, the phones that doubled as walkie-talkies, I was home with my dad and wanted to stay awake until she got home from a work party. It was getting late and I was getting nervous. I tried to call her, but she didn’t answer and even though I knew she often missed calls, I panicked. My dad told me not to worry, but as the night got later, he understood my anxiety, especially because I was attached to my mom. She ended up calling eventually or at least showing some sign of life that led me to calm down and go to bed. That was when I realized what separation anxiety meant and how irreplaceable my mother is to me. To this day, my mind goes to the worst case scenario when I get sent to her voicemail.
Given the last anecdote, I probably should have figured out that I had anxiety long before this night in August 2007 that I’m about to share. I was 11 years old and had suffered with undiagnosed anxiety for the whole summer leading up to sixth grade. On this particular night, nothing I did could calm my nerves and I ended up having my first panic attack. Crying, throwing up, the whole thing. I went to the emergency room that night and then was given a psychiatrist appointment at Tufts Medical Center. This was the moment I knew I was saved.
In seventh grade, I had a crush on one of my good friends. The Hannah Montana movie had just premiered and he would ask me to sing “The Climb” in our Social Studies class and then say that if I didn’t audition for American Idol on my own, he would personally drive me there when I was old enough. One day, I was walking down the middle school hallway and looked up to see him coming towards me and I got a rush of butterflies in my stomach. That was how I knew he was the first boy I ever truly “liked.”
Strings vs. Band
From fifth grade to senior year, I was in an orchestra called Strings Attached and it served as a class in my town’s public schools. My teacher was an amazing man and somewhat of a second father to a lot of us. He went above and beyond to teach us and make us feel capable. We often had days where we sat in the “comfy seats” in the auditorium to do some sort of activity like listening to a song and writing a storyline to accompany the piece. At the end of my freshmen year of high school, he had us all crowd around in the auditorium lobby and he played an original on his cello that is still a piece I listen to on Spotify today. When he was done playing, he talked to us about his own struggles at high school/college age and confided in us personal details about himself that made him turn to music. I, like a lot of others, cried and went into his office after class to thank him for sharing his story. In that moment, I knew I had made the right choice by picking up the violin and joining Strings rather than band.
Children of Eden
Also during my freshmen year of high school, I was an ensemble member in my first high school musical. I almost didn’t audition for the show but after being convinced by my friends Julia and Nikk (s/o to you both) I decided to take the plunge. If I’m being honest, I didn’t like the show at first. It wasn’t until the final stages that I started to really enjoy rehearsal and the new friends I had made. I can’t remember if it was opening or closing night, but before one of our four performances, our director gathered us around in the hallway and told us that he’d performed in Children of Eden at a time in his life when he needed it. As my years in Lamplighters Drama Guild went on, I realized over and over again how much I needed that show too. There’s a photo of our group hallway huddle (above) that takes me right back to that moment of pre-show jitters and extreme thankfulness.
My senior year of high school, I organized a gig for my a cappella group at a local nursing home. I had lost my Nana months before and she had spent about four weeks in a nursing home before coming to my house to pass away. I knew it would be too difficult to go to the same place that she had stayed, so I purposely chose a different care facility. Walking down the hallways to get to our performance space broke me instantly. I lost my cool and cried on my friend’s shoulder, quickly brushing away tears just in time to perform. We walked into the room where a bunch of cute, wrinkly faces were looking up at us like, “WHO are YOU?” The atmosphere changed from slightly hostile to happy once we started singing, but there was still a hint of resentment towards us for interrupting their quiet day. In this moment, I realized why I sing and why I can never stop.
This blog post obviously only features moments from early childhood through high school age, but I’m hoping to maybe make this a series. I’d like to write about moments that I’ve had during college that have shaped my image of myself and ideal future self, but for now, I’ll cap it at high school.
I encourage anyone reading to think of some moments in your life that made you the person you are today, even if you only think of silly ones like why your favorite movie is your favorite. There was a moment in time that you decided it was worthy of the “favorite” title. Think about it.