I wonder if maybe you could answer a question for me in the brief amount of time we’ve known one another: who am I?
Surely you can answer that for me. No? Okay, well then how about this one: what makes me, me?
Still not sure? Come on, that was an easy one. Alright, what about this: what separates me from everyone else?
You don’t know? Well, that’s alright. We don’t talk too much to each other, do we? Besides, these questions were meant to be answered by me. Because, out of everyone on Earth, I should be the one who’s able to answer these questions best, right?
Dead. Fricken. Wrong.
For about two months our creative writing professor has been trying to guide us through the ridiculously exhausting and ambiguous question of “who am I?” with the disappointing news that the simple bullet point list labels of “I am…” don’t cut or cover it. So what exactly does she want from us then?!
Turns out that she was trying to direct us to the stories from our childhoods that helped us find out what we liked, what our passions were and showed us who we are. It was really fun to have that sudden “aha!” moment in class, look over at our professor and see her face light up like a kid locked in a candy store because we finally understood.
So the first story I want to share is how I came to be so passionate about art. If you ever meet me in real life there is one thing that you’ll always want to keep in mind about me: I cannot survive in life without art. Art is my life whether it be movies, video games, drawing, making cookies, or decorating a room. I can find the art in almost every daily activity or object. I’ve been arting (shut up, it’s a word now) ever since I was able to hold pencil and paper in my little grubby hands, but I really got into art when I was about seven or so.
My parents were often busy on the weekends with their jobs and running errands and my little brother Aidan and I, being too young to actually contribute without making a mess of everything, were dropped off at our mamaw’s house. Since my brother was just three years old, four years younger than me, he got a lot of attention from everyone. It made me feel like I wasn’t wanted or loved anymore and I resented me family quite a bit for that.
One weekend I decided that I was going to sulk upstairs because Aidan had thrown a fit when I stole the last Fig Newton (wow, anyone remember those?) from the plastic carton. My mamaw rushed to open a new package and let him have one more while I was left on the margin and forbidden to take another. In my sensation of absolute despair and crushed hope I fled to the Land of Upstairz where no one could ever find me again. (I’m sure I could have if I had just asked, but at the time my seven year-old brain thought it had just been denied a cookie. It was the end of the world for me, alright?)
My mamaw is a pretty artsy person herself, so she had a little studio kind of set up in this little loft-like corner upstairs, filled with sewing supplies and artsy things. I remember that I played up there a lot. I always liked that corner because there was a lot of open space to play and everything just looked so impressive and magical. (To a seven year-old anyways 😂.)
Whilst I was hiding up in the loft-corner I happened upon one of her old sketchbooks, laying open with a drawing of a dock and row boat on a pond. It was so good and I remember looking down at the drawing and wanting to do that. So I stole a pencil and the sketchbook off the desk and turned to the next empty page, trying to be as quiet as possible.
I honestly don’t know why I thought I’d get into trouble if I was found drawing in her sketchbook considering my mamaw is the biggest softie out there. Yet there I was, jumping at every small sound as I doodled away in my mamaw’s magical sketchbook of amazingness. I obviously ended up getting found as I had been missing for about ten minutes for no apparent reason and I wasn’t exactly hiding very well.
As I said though, she wasn’t upset. In fact, she took a look at my most definitely horrid drawing and told me it was the best thing she’d ever seen. I was absolutely ecstatic. Of course, being a grandma, she just had to go and make my day even better by giving me her sketchbook so I could practice drawing. I still have it, but as I grew older I began to tear the pages out because I didn’t understand the value of keeping every single art piece at your disposal!!! (To all my fellow aspiring artists, THIS IS RULE NO. 1: DO. NOT. THROW. ANYTHING. AWAY. EVER. Capiche?!)
I sadly don’t have the drawing of the pond and boat, but here’s what I do have.
Something else that answers the question of “who am I?” is my family. I don’t mean just my parents and my siblings and my grandparents, oh no. I mean my entire, freaking, spread-across-the-entire-country family. Have you ever heard of the word temperamental? That’s my family in a nutshell: half temper, half mental. I have still yet to determine on which side of the line I stand.
Haha, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I wouldn’t have my family any other way.
If I had to pick which side I get along with most, it would be my dad’s mom’s side (so basically, my mamaw’s side). Most of my mother’s side is insane (not in a good way) and live more than six hours away in every direction, and then I don’t hardly ever see my dad’s dad’s (my papaw’s) side of the family.
My mamaw’s family, though still kind of dysfunctional, is fairly held together and they all live in the general vicinity of either Florida or Indiana. As aforementioned My siblings and I are all very close with our mamaw and papaw since we were often dropped off at their house for the weekend. We also spent most of our summers with them too at Dale Hollow Lake. Since we’ve gotten older and busier we normally only see our mamaw and papaw during summer and the lake is like our second home anyway.
I think that an attribute of mine that was most shaped by my family is my personality. I am an introvert like my father. I like to be alone and a lot of times social gatherings or being out of the house makes me feel exhausted and on edge. Yet at the same time I can be outgoing and extroverted like my mother: take charge, flirt (I’m a very flirty person), crack a joke, or approach a stranger with the hopes of a new friendship.
Around my family, small group of close friends, and by myself is often where I feel comfortable enough where these two different sides of me don’t need to clash around inside like a tornado and a typhoon and I can just relax without feeling burdened.
Apparently, according to Science of Us, there are four types of introversion: social, thinking, anxious and restrained. In their article they explain the four type and even offer a test to see which introversion you lean towards the most. I myself fall under the category of social introvert, though thinking was a close second.
It’s easier just to be an introvert and to accept who I am though because my mom is extremely open minded and my dad is basically in the same boat as me so he doesn’t get a choice ;).
Another big part of my life is games.
With technology advancing so rapidly there are more and more games being developed and released along with their consoles. My father and I, well, my whole family actually, prefer PCs. Almost every weekend my brother and I would crowd around my dad’s computer desk and watch him play Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. We even had our own fold-up chairs so we didn’t argue about who got to sit where.
Our mom didn’t normally play for us, but she often played with us, especially on our Gamecube. We would play Mariokart all the time. I can still remember that she always picked little Toad while I played Princess Peach and and Aidan chose Mario. It was like our tradition to play games with our parents every weekend.
Sadly, we don’t play games together as often. My parents are struggling to make ends meet and my brother and I are swamped with homework and housework. However, we still get together on the odd day to play a bit of cards or Boggle. Those are often very good days that we spend just goofing off and hanging out.
The last things I want to talk about are my babies.
Cali Anne Marie and Naomi Elizabeth are my two cats, of the ages 2 and 1, and they are my precious little children. I have always been a big lover of animals, but it seems like most of the time my animals don’t love ma back: my chinchilla had multiple health issues and died young, my hamster died of old ages after having him for about two years, and then I never had bird but I never got his wings clipped because he never went outside until my mom decided “oh, lets take the bird, who can fly, outside with me while I do things” and then he flew off. If you’re wondering, then the answer is yes, I am still extremely bitter about my bird.
Now, however, I have two pompous and stuck up cats who get treated like royalty. I love them so much and my family isn’t allowed to look after them because I don’t trust them anymore, especially my mom, after all my other pet failures.
Even though I’m all for animals, cats have always been my favorites ever since I saw a cheetah chasing a gazelle on the TV screen. The cruel reality is that my father, brother and I all have, though quite varying, an allergy to cats. I would pester my mom for hours, begging and pleading for a cat it was the only thing I truly wanted for my birthday. Of course, with my brother and dad being more allergic than I was there was no chance I was going to get one until I moved out. I eventually resigned myself to the fact and jokingly answer “a cat” to the question “what do you want for your birthday?”.
So how did I end up with not just one cat before leaving home but two? Well, my parents are big pushovers, thats how ;).
Two years ago my mom went back to trade school to become a hairstylist and met a lot of people who she quickly bonded with (my mom and sister are the extroverts of the family). A lady she met there had a cat that just had a litter and she was trying to give the kittens away to good homes. My mom, being a cat lover herself, decided to get me one after talking it over with my dad. Thus my first baby was born (technically she had already been born, but you get what I mean)!
I was set. I had a cat and I had just sorted out what I wanted to do with my life. I was ready to take on the world. Until my mom got a call from my friend saying she’d bought a cat and now her parents were livid because she hadn’t asked them first before she bought it.
I wasn’t too sold on the idea of another cat, as my first was still a rather big handful and was extremely expensive to take care of, but she needed a home and my friend was notorious for taking on more than she could handle so I agreed to take the cat and see where it went.
And I waited. And waited. And waited.
About an entire month went by before my friend actually came with the cat and I wasn’t too happy to see her when she did because she had not divulged to me the cat wasn’t ready to be picked up yet. Of course, that changed when I got the new cat, Naomi, into my arms. She was the complete opposite of my first cat, friendly, warm, inviting people to pet her. She loved people, where as Cali would rather spend her time hiding in my room with a disdainful look on her face.
Cali didn’t take to warmly to Naomi at first and I often had to break up cat fights when I was home, but they eventually got used to each other and now they sometimes curl up together on the couch or on my bed.
I love my cats, even though they’re pains in the neck and expensive, pampered brats. They’ve taught me a lot in the responsibility field, and I don’t think I can be who I am today without them, my friends, or my family.