My parents divorced when I was five years old. It was 1968. I think that's right, but memory is a sticky thing so maybe I was six and it was 1969. I believe I had just finished an absolutely stellar run as teacher's pet at K D Markley Elementary school in Malvern Pennsylvania. Above is my class picture. Can you guess which kid is me?
Oh okay, if you've not guessed I'll go ahead and tell you. I'm the one with the goofy smile and the 'not very' Marcia Brady hair fourth from the left in the front row. It's actually well behaved in this picture comparably speaking. My mother spent years struggling with that hair. It was unruly. It was wild. It had cowlicks upon cowlicks. It would not bend to the siren call of the Dippity Do or the fervent tug of the rat tail comb. Much like the child under whom it flew freely, it defied convention with an absolute lack of shame.
I have snippets of memories from the first few years of my life. We'd already moved several times by the time we got to the lovely little farm house in Malvern. The little house before Malvern was at the end of the dead end street and I believe it was in Narberth. Maybe it was a twin, but it's several lifetimes ago when I was very young and I simply can't be certain. Back then I rode a mean tricycle and had just begun my love affair with Barbie. I used to have flying dreams in that house, which I can still vividly recall. Have you ever flown in your dreams? It's pure ecstasy. It was in that little house that I also began having a recurring nightmare which continued replaying on a fairly regular basis for many years after. It was morning. I awoke to the smell of bacon frying. I came bounding down the back stairs to the kitchen where my mother was cooking breakfast. I was stopped cold by a most disturbing vision, between my mother and the staircase was a giant honey bee. I mean giant like in a Japanese horror film giant. My mother could not see this bee, but I could and I was terrified. She was smiling and insisting I come down to breakfast, but I stood frozen on the staircase crying and trying to get her to see this menacing bee.
I hated that dream.
What was the meaning of that bee? I do not know. Perhaps even then as a small child I sensed that something was wrong in our happy family unit.
I remember planting a potato in the backyard of the Narberth house not long before we moved to the pastoral country setting of Malvern. I always wondered if that potato grew? Did the new people who moved into the house enjoy a plentiful harvest of potatoes? I have moved so many times since and it's funny how often I have left some small token of my existence behind and wondered...did the new people find it and if they did...what did they think?
But I digress in a tangential journey down memory lane, which is always filtered through the hazy fog that is my faulty memory. My parents divorced when I was five or six and that was a very good thing. Though of course, at the time it felt awful. We moved every few years when I was growing up. It meant that I, the frizzy haired, translucent skinned, smarty pants, awkward girl was perpetually "the new kid." It's not surprising that I was usually met with sidelong glances and suspicious whispers. I have spent most of my life feeling like a stranger in a strange land, never quite fitting in and never feeling totally welcome. I am a misfit toy and I have finally come to embrace that, but it's part of what makes me scary I do believe.
Our experiences form us. They inform us. They color our perspectives and they shape our choices. I spent a lot of years feeling sad about being a misfit toy, but I'm not sad about that anymore. In fact I'm quite pleased about it. If other people are afraid of me that's their problem. I have embraced who I am and I've stopped apologizing. We can not make ourselves smaller to make other people happy, they have to rise to the occasion or move on.
I'd like to let you in on a little secret though...we are all misfit toys. Some of us just delude ourselves into thinking differently. The more we embrace our uniqueness, the more we become ourselves. If we'd all spend less time trying to fool everyone around us into thinking that we're not broken, we'd all be a lot happier. It's okay to admit that you're a little broken. It's okay if your surface has a few scratches.
It is the scars, the broken parts and bruises that make us who we are. Mix that up with who we were when we foolishly jumped into this time-space continuum and you get a crazy soup. Mine's a little spicy. I like it that way.
"Self awareness is not just a bunch of amino acids bumping together."
Stranger in a Strange Land
Miss Fit Toy