i am no longer the girl who ransacked the thrift store bookshelves for dime cent (christian) romance novels, poring over the paperback in one night, and then falling asleep praying and wishing for my one day prince charming who would swoon me with his lopsided grin, sparkling eyes, and manly devotion to God.
i am no longer the girl who won 8 awards at her 8th grade award assembly, no longer the girl who conducted her 8th grade symphonic band for their last song with my sparkly blue baton (which, i still have of course).
during my sophomore year of high school, i volunteered at the local hospital, and as part of the deal, had to buy a pair of scrubs. i still have them, because i mean, who else has scrubs? and maybe, one day, they'll come in handy for something. or maybe they'll simply serve as a reminder of that time when i dreamed of being a nurse and saving lives (until i realized i couldn't spend every day wearing sneakers and working in a fluorescently lit white-walled building).
there was that one time i wore a pepto bismal pink swing dress for sadies, my first formal floor length gown for freshman homecoming. my first, and only, corsage. the beige beret i bought in montmartre during a weekend excursion to paris. the picture frames i used to have scattered around my room, of my best friends, of adventures, of family. there's the first piano recital ribbon i received, and my old sunday dresses from my six-year-old days. i still have my first kilt, a small reminder of my scottish childhood. there are boxes of postcards, birthday cards, and letters. high-school crush love notes to remind me of my insecure and girlish self who eventually learned that boys aren't the end all and be all of everything. i have piles of programs from graduations, band concerts, choir performances, dance recitals, and piano recitals (i was an artsy kid - can you tell?) i have my old awana awards and my basketball trophies. and in every pink or purple storage box, another reminder of the past is treasured.
i thought that i could thin out a few more of my belongings, but i simply can't toss my 5th grade state project into the trash, because, hello, idaho & potatoes practically consumed the last trimester of my elementary school career.
in all honesty though, it's not the material things that mean so much; it's the nostalgia that goes with them, the simple reminders of the past. i am who i am today as a result of the girl i was, a month ago, a year ago, 5 years ago, a decade ago...she hasn't disappeared. she's simply melted into the layers of growth, maturity, and experience those years have created. in 10 years, i'll look back at my college years, remember roommates and lukewarm showers, redundant cafeteria food and beater cars. i'll remember what it was to figure out my future, only to then realize that i'm now living that future, and probably still trying to figure out the next 10 years. i'll remember my best friends and how much they changed my life and bettered me. i'll remember the boy who pursued me and romanced me and who i fell in love with, without ever believing he could actually exist for me and love me back.
there was the 3 year old debbie who loved to tell stories to anyone who would listen, no matter how incoherent my toddler words were. the 5 year old debbie who'd cry when her older brother threw snowballs at her, and who loved going camping along the river with her family and their janky vw bus. there was the 6 year old debbie who learned that her parents had decided to move the family to america, and who then had to say good-bye to jenny, leila, julia, sparky the cat, and freddy the hamster. seven year old me went to the movie theater for the first time and saw mulan with her dad. she befriended keri, sammy, and kelly, and together they dominated elementary school. in 3rd grade, i met my favorite teacher of all time and quickly and proudly rose to the rank of teacher's pet along with keri. school was my thing. the goin' buggy play, the c.a. thayer, the coast trip, and the 13 colonies play marked serious competition, but for all my spunk, i ended up cast as the role of "boy" in the 5th grade play. at least i got to sing a solo...
13 year old debbie had her dad taken from her, and by 14, both men in the house had left, one to be with God, the other to serve our country. God, however, always provides, and before long, the little man was with us. high school started, and so did my ridiculous crush phase. the boy i thought i was going to marry, only soon to learn that God came first, and so did mom's rules, and at 14, no kid knows what it is to truly love. high school flew by, and after watching kim's graduation on friday, i realize now how insignificant the class of '09 is in the big picture. we were just one of dozens of other 17 and 18 year olds to head out of high school and onto the next chapter. high school wasn't all there is, because now, there's so much more. i threw my cap into the air, breezed through grad parties, and in the heat of a california july summer, prepared for a life in southern california.
and now, here i am. kim's graduated. simon's getting married. les lives/d in hawaii. the girls are in the bay area, philly, utah, and nevada. i finally got my first kiss and met the boy i'd been hoping for all along. my new girls hail from san diego, washington, sunnyvale, and dozens of socal towns i'd never heard of 2 years ago. and yet, letting things go and watching things change didn't end the life i'd known.
that girl in those boxes was pretty cool. let's be real. but she had lessons to learn and people to meet. loved ones to let go and friends to make. and her journey isn't over, because that cardboard box sitting amongst the plastic ones represents the next phase & the new memories still to come...