When you were a toddler, little more than a babe, you and your younger sister played in the playpen in the kitchen/office downstairs. It was only the two of you then, the other three would come later, ushered in with the twenty-first century.
Your mother was frustrated half the time, still, a bit overwhelmed having married your father two years before, then you and your sister came almost one after the other. Adjusting to another household, a new set of parents, and helping out in the fast food place they ran, a pace and life so much different to the one she’s always known. You wouldn’t know this, not for years and years to come will you join the dots and realize her quiet bravery.
And you were a particularly fussy child. Cried a whole lot, thew up at night and you preferred to be bottle-fed. You got really sick a few times, too. Eventually, you evened out, and it helped that you were a pretty child, chubby handsies and footsies and such pinchable cheeks. Your grandmother called you Snow White because of your creamy complexion with your dark hair and rosy lips.
A few of the girls would take you out in the stroller for walks. One time they took you to the photo studio five minutes away and had a mini photoshoot. You were dressed in an orange trimmed and green vined confection, you looked like a baby dryad confused as to why she was taken from her forest.
Your mom didn’t even know you were gone until after. You still have that photo.
In that playpen, the two of you like herded lambs would hear people bustling about just outside the slide doors. They’d call out orders for chicken and chowmein, things like that to the staff at the Big Kitchen. You didn’t want to be left out on the action, gran still reminds you how you would join in from the pen, “‘ive chikin fwy wyice!“
You had to get moving though. You hated to be locked in so you took the first opportunity when you saw the frayed hole in the netty fabric that was your wall and exploited the weakness. When the big people weren’t looking you’d tug and pull and bite with your itty bitty teeth until one day it was big enough to wriggle out and gave your first huzzah. Yeah, it was short-lived (they turned that side to the actual wall and you were recaptured) but you knew freedom now.
Later, when your legs worked better you snuck out the house on multiple occasions, there were two neighbours that kept a good eye on you. Uncle Allen used to feed you Craft Singles and let you draw with chalk on the walls. Auntie May gave you baths and fed you food you refused to eat at home. Also, you nearly got run over by a bus. Your adventures were put to a firm stop by your father when you ventured too far, to a place where men used to gather to drink and smoke. The spanking you got worked better than all the other warnings and you wandered no more.
It was your golden age, childhood. You woke up bright and early for the cartoons, you loved TV. Adults doted on you. But your world began to tilt when you started nursery school. Your mother had to go with you every day that first week and sneak out during the prayers and you had to close your eyes. You cried your lungs out.
And it went on and on. When you lost the baby fat and gained responsibilities which weren’t all that bad right then. You can’t remember when, though possibly it was your first day of high school (miles away from home), that you finally got it.
You were on your own, you didn’t know people could be so mean and conniving because your parents did an excellent job at shielding you up to then. Home that was once the embodiment of safety wasn’t any longer because danger followed you in your head. And dictation, you decided, was a bitch and a half.
This place changed you, as most new places and people will, but it wasn’t a version of you that you liked, looking back. You didn’t think for yourself as much as you should have. A possible other path from working in the shop didn’t fully occur to you then, as if this was another kind of playacting. And certain failures followed you into your own “transformation” into adulthood. And they’ve stuck.
As you once again began to adapt – too late – you sought solace in the books you discovered you loved. But things happened and it’s complicated, no one event triggered it. Most of your troubles were external affairs but this … this was something festering on the inside and it seemed like you’re more alone than you ever were. You’re still in freefall but you found a foothold on philosophy. It was the only thing that pulled you from the brink.
The worst thing to feel is vulnerable, mentally … physically it doesn’t matter. And you’ve continued to slip but now at least you’re trying to do something about it. It’s hard, even if to the whole world it seems as if you should be the happiest person here because you’re privileged. Maybe … maybe true security lies in the stability of our minds, our consciousness. Without those what have we got?
These days you smile at that little girl and can truly say she’s been places and seen things (crap she never would sign up for btw) and she’s still here, swinging it out. Your smile is now crooked, because you know if she keeps it up she’s got a lot of good days ahead. You know she’s stronger now even when she thinks she’s not.
This has been today’s RDP challenge, security. Thanks again for reading to the end! Here are some excellent contributions I’ve seen today: