My seven-year-old brain
I came home for break, exam-weary and craving home-cooked food, desiring nothing more than to lie on my back while drooling in the general direction of the TV. The drive into town filled my head with fantasies of sleeping in late and ignoring the ever-growing pile of homework spilling out of my backpack.
Instead, I walked into my house in the midst of a frenzied cleaning spree.
Before I knew it, I was swept into our library, a dusting rag pushed into my hand, and set to rearrange all my books and clean out the shelves.
Surprisingly, it was nice in a cathartic kind of way to go through all my old books, to donate ones I had never heard of and flip back through stories I liked when I was a kid, from picture books to the first versions of what I suppose can be called novels. It was fun to add my college books to them, placing Italian textbooks and “What Makes You Not a Buddhist” next to “Ella Enchanted” and “Guess How Much I Love You.”
Going through the rest of my family’s books was entertaining too. I got to see how wildly our tastes differed, as I sorted war books from sci-fi, and gardening manuals from neglected sheet music.
Then, in one deep, dark corner of the bookshelves, long forgotten and never looked for, I found a worn out, tired old journal: mine, from elementary school.
Pulling it out was like finding a fossil. It obviously had been ignored for years, after being shoved somewhere no one would ever look for it. The writing on the front dictated, in huge, childish letters that eventually sloped into painful cursive, my name and the years, proclaiming the book to be my daily journal for class. Cracking it open, I had to start laughing.
Each day, my teacher had given us a very general prompt on which to write. I usually only wrote about five lines, always with a pathetically redundant concluding sentence, pronouncing things like “And that is what the best field trip is,” and “And that is what my goals is.”
The entries themselves were thoroughly unimpressive, but endlessly funny to read. It was sort of delightful to sit with my mom and scan my seven-year-old brain, to see what I cared about the most — butterflies, it seems — and revel in my little joys — one night, “We stayed up until 12:20!” — and disappointments — “I felt bad, because my brother did not get an award. But I had fun.”
In response to a prompt asking how I celebrate the winter solstice, I wrote, “To tell you the truth, I don’t. All I do is jump around and shout for a couple hours. After I while, I follow my brother’s leads, because he starts it. Then, when I’m egsausted, I watch t.v. That’s what I do.” To my knowledge, I have never once celebrated the solstice, especially not by jumping around and shouting, but what do I know?
Occasionally I would just ignore the prompt entirely and dive into semi-poetic free verse. In one such instance, I was asked what I expected the next year to be like.
I answered by exclaiming, “Whoosh! Swish! The wind rushes by! I dodge as things fly. Trees tumble to the ground as houses crack and fall. Hail and rain fall violently to the ground as people try to get past them. But suddenly, it stops. Trees fall back to the ground slowly. People give a long, low sigh of relief. The danger has passed!”
Nice try, past Emily, but don’t quit your day job. I doubt I got a smiley face for that assignment.
So, because it’s the start of a new month and the temperature is dropping as quickly as the leaves, I’ll send you off with a sentiment from my 2002 self:
“October is a month with joyfulness in the air. You can have time with people that you want to have time with. It is a good time to play games and have a great time. It is almost like magic. That’s what I think October is.”
Emily’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.