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Apr. 19th, 2013 | 12:44 pm
location: Curwensville, PA.
mood: Thoughtful, as per usual.
music: Oingo Boingo at first, then random Danny Elfman scores.

When I was twelve years old, my mother finally left my stepfather, and we moved cross-country from Southern California to Ohio. We took a roundabout trip, stopping by the Grand Canyon and Vegas and a million places along the way. And somewhere on that trip, or shortly before, or shortly afterwards, I made a concerted effort to forget everything that had come before. The idea was to stop any thought of the past the minute it came into my mind, and direct my thoughts elsewhere. By that method, I supposed I could stop reinforcing the memories and lose them as quickly as possible. And once I had accomplished that, I would be able to build myself from a blank slate into whatever I wanted.
And, as these things go, it was fairly effective. Within two years I remembered very little of my childhood. Lately I've been trying to recall it, or have been reminded of it, by a myriad of factors. The most significant is having a child and being reminded of thought processes and interests I had at his age at every step along the way. Not all of it is simple reflection, some of it involves noticing differences. The most obvious differences come down to technology and the varying levels of accessibility to, well, everything that have varied in his life and mine (for example, he has always had computers, etc). But there are also quirks of temperament that vary between who I always was and who he is.
He's good at rote memorization. This baffles me because it is a skill I have never had. I can recall and recreate mathematical proofs to derive formulas, because chains of logic are intuitive and simple for me, but I can never remember the formulas. That is the most extreme example, but it's illustrative. And it baffles me, and leads me to teach him in different ways than I knew I had to be taught. He asks why and how and follows logic just fine, as well as I remember doing so, from the looks of things, but it's strange to have the easier paths that don't involve intricate explanations as a necessity for comprehension available.
But this isn't what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the decision to abandon childhood at the age of twelve. I don't believe my decision was unique, rather a more deliberate and intellectualized version of what just about everyone does at that age. When you are a pre-teen, at some point it is going to become blindingly and strangely obvious that you aren't a child any longer, and the reaction is extreme. You suddenly want to be away, far away, from the parents you once relied upon to form your attitudes and even tastes, because you are suddenly aware that you have the right and obligation to do so on your own. And it's very easy to believe, in one pressing and unavoidable moment, that everything you enjoyed and liked before your eyes were opened was bad, simple, childlike and worthless.
And so it was for me.
The problem is that childhoods are important.
When we moved to Ohio, and finally found a place to live and gainful employment, and I went back to school, I found myself confused above all else. Middle school, and the people were nothing like I was used to. This is where things started going downhill. I'd always been an avid student, an avid learner, if rather solitary. But I had decided to forget all of that, and suddenly I was in a very different place.
Everyone was white, and blond, and (culturally) Christian, and there suddenly seemed to be far fewer options of how to dress. Everyone spoke English at home, everyone had a television (and watched the same shows). And I looked around, and I wanted to find something to be, something to grow into, something to care about, and it wasn't there.
I have nothing against white-bread American life. It just wasn't something I'd really seen before, and when you come from a muddled pool of Middle Eastern and Asian friends into that, it's... Not the same. There's nothing familiar, there's nothing comprehensible.
And so I looked elsewhere. I stopped having friends, I stopped worrying about schoolwork (though I still learned everything as a point of honor, often before it was covered in class), and I grew predictably depressed. And I found things, and built up various shreds and scraps of identity with labels and tastes and joys to intersperse my new-found love of misery.
And then I grew up, which is where the remembering comes in.
I'm frequently baffled by how important my childhood really is to me these days, by how solidly and inevitably it defines when I think of as normal, ordinary, admirable and deplorable. And when I find my taste returning to what it was as a child, I feel even more confused.
So much effort. And at the end of the day I still am the same as I was as a child. Fascinated by darkness, never afraid, wanting the world always to be stranger, more intricate, more nuanced. Meanings behind meanings and feeling only when it doesn't matter, because feeling when it matters just stops rational thought and proper action.
I'm confused when people don't understand that people are different from them, and absolutely baffled when they have a problem with that. Much of my childhood was spent discussing the differences between my life, and the lives of my friends, thanks to our dramatically different backgrounds. And much of that time led to us learning different ways of looking at things, and new things to care about, from each other. And not liking differences, acknowledged differences in thought, and living without that discourse and increasing understanding of all the souls around you seems. Bleak. I can't imagine not wanting it, and doing all you can to nurture it.
That's the biggest thing, I think. That's what I'm grateful for, what I'm glad to remember.

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Comments {2}

hibernaldream

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from: hibernaldream
date: Apr. 22nd, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC)
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I don't remember a whole lot about my childhood either, but occurred naturally for me. My boyfriend has two kids, 4 and 6, and they often remind me of how much I just don't remember doing the things they do. I don't really remember playing and being creative -- I remember being confused as to how other kids were being creative. But I'm not sure if those feelings came later when I was older, after I looked back to the past few years and wondering.

I'm really happy to see you updating again. <3

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idprism

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from: idprismindigo
date: Apr. 24th, 2013 08:16 am (UTC)
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thanks, always, for posting.

i discovered some time ago, too, that i have retained some of my child-like desire for discovery and imagination. the world somehow slowly becomes in some ways what i imagined long ago it should be, and it makes me happy to see, though sad that i did not have a part in the marginal transformations in technology and knowledge that brought it along this path.

speaking of nuance and intricacy, i have been reading a book lately that is enjoyable and reintroduces some measures of metaphysics and mystery to reality and scientific discussion. the book is: quantum enigma by rosenblum and kuttner. its very accessible, and i think you might enjoy it if you have the chance to read it.

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