I had to pictureofapicture this family reunion photo, circa 2000, from my Grandparent’s house. I feel like it explains so much. Probably not to you, but looking at it, I had an Epiphany, by which I do not mean my cousin named Epiphany, who I can’t find in this picture. I’m in the green.
Every year, from when I was about eight til well, I still try and go, we’ve had a family reunion at Yaupon Beach in NC. It’s basically the best except for the fact that, and this is NO ONE’S FAULT BUT MY OWN*, this yearly pilgrimage plagued me with ridiculously shallow priorties. I wanted to be thin and tan and wee and blonde like my cousins. I wanted to strut down the beach in my bikini top and have boys accidentally ram me with their skim boards just to get my attention and I wanted these boys to fall in love with me and mail me shell necklaces and I wanted to eat nothing but Doritos but not look it, but instead smell of various sections of Bath and Body Works. Effortless, small. And clearly, I just was not. But this was all I wanted, and I felt constantly inadequate which, of course, gave me a delightfully limited worldview and kept me from, you know, learning, dreaming, travelling, and anything else that requires mental space that is NOT consumed by the straightening and dying of one’s hair; situps. Gradually, as I hit college, I kinda gave up on wanting to skin my beauitful cousins and wear them around like coats and am proudly, today, pretty much okay with Me. But it wasn’t easy getting here, and the worst part of all is acknowledging how much time and energy I wasted worrying and comparing — how I easily could have just replaced this with confidence, even if it was an arbitrary kind. But ultimately, I am now fine.
* Mom, this is not your fault. Stop drafting the apology email. Stop it….Stop….