Semi-Charmed Childhood

Little Leila circa 1996 or 1997
Little Leila circa 1996 or 1997

I was able to chat with my sister living overseas this morning.  I was up, complaining about my lack of sleep and my clumsiness overnight, and we got to talking and giving each other updates.  After some time, she asked me what I would be writing about today.  At 8:30 AM, I was stumped, and I couldn’t come up with any positive, happy story to tell.  My lack of sleep was getting to me, the pain in my knee from an injury sustained while sleepwalking was making it impossible to think, and there wasn’t enough coffee in the world to keep me attentive, alert, and focused.

“Write a blog post about… ME.”  She said.

“Any memory in particular?”  I asked.

We went back and forth for a few minutes.  She poked fun at me and I poked fun at her, and after a fair amount of banter, my sister conjured a memory over a decade old.

“I was just thinking back to the days where your bed room was next to mine and we use to hang out in your room, and you had the mini TV in there.” She said, “We could totally spend entire days in your room.”

It’s true.  My brother, sister, and I would spend hours upon hours in my room.  This was a handful of years before my youngest sister was born.  The three of us were a year and some months apart from one another; we spent a lot of time together, had the same friends in the neighborhood, and we were able to relate to each other on some level.  At the time, I had an antique canopy bed (that I under-appreciated), and I would cover it in spare bedding and create a blanket fort around my bed.  My siblings and I would sit in the blanket fort, pull my boombox in, and listened to the radio, singing and dancing to the songs we heard.

The funny thing about memory is that two people can remember the same moment in two completely different ways.  While she remembered all that time spent in my room, laughing, talking, listening to music, and watching movies, I remembered things a tad differently.  It’s true that we spent a lot of days between 1996 and 2000 in that room.  What I remember from that time, however, was the nonstop shouting at home prompting the quality time.  Prior to middle school (Between 1996 and Summer of 1998), my grandmother and my father would get into screaming matches regularly.  He didn’t like how she was treating his children, and she didn’t like the way he was treating her daughter.  I remember things being smashed: a plate or two, When my grandparents moved out of my parents’ house (for the second time, I do believe), my father then got into fights with my mother, citing financial distress and threatening divorce as a result.

I remember the fighting very well.  When the fights about finances began between my parents, I remember feeling an immeasurable amount of distress, causing me to make at least two trips per week to the guidance counselor to talk my thoughts and feelings out.  When I was home, I tried to maintain some amount of composure.  When the yelling escalated to a 3-or-more times per week occurrence, I would gather my siblings up and take them to my room, crank the music up, and provide them with as much distraction as possible until we could no longer hear the yelling.  I remember those years all too well, being 11, 12, 13, and 14 and trying desperately to tune out the world.

When I relayed my memory to my sister, however, she replied “I don’t remember the screaming because your room was so awesome.  I remember them as happy times.”

And at 9:15 this morning, my mind was officially blown.  Even though I remember the reason for all that time spent with my siblings being incredibly negative, it didn’t matter.  Something wonderful and positive came out of it.  I didn’t realize how much of an impact that had on my sister and I was taken aback by how fondly she recalled those moments.

In response to my sister’s comment, I said, “So we turned lemons into lemonade.”

“Indeed,” she responded.  After a beat passed, she added, “Well, you did.  I just drank it.”

In honor of making lemonade, here is a rough sampling of what we used to jam out to in my bedroom.

1. “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind
2. “I Want You” by Savage Garden
3. “Mmmbop” by Hanson
4. “Wannabe” by Spice Girls
5. “I Want You Back” by NSYNC

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Author: Leila

Just another case of arrested development.

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