Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The distant past

My mom has told me a story - and this is something I vaguely remember - about a certain event from my fourth year of life. At the time, I was a fresh big sister to a brand new baby brother (Hi, Ben! For the love of Ford, go shave!), and a suffering baby sister in her own right (Hi, Mike! Have I mentioned lately that you're ugly?). I was also enrolled in preschool, spending her busy days (well, mornings) singing songs about being swallowed by boa constrictors and her afternoons watching "David the Gnome" and "Eureka's Castle," because TV used to be worth watching for ten hour stretches. And, with that routine firmly entrenched, it became my mission one day to walk to school.

For the record, my preschool - actually a synagogue - wasn't all that far from our house, perhaps a mile in total. And, surely, I noticed at some point that the car ride hardly seemed worth the time it took to strap my brother and I into our car seats, to get on our coats and wait for the car to heat up or cool down, to go back inside after waving my older brother off on his bus ride to the Big Kids' School only to go right back out again. Surely, the idea of covering the distance under my own ambulatory power appealed to the born control queen that was even then emerging. (This really was when it had become apparent that little Amanda wasn't planning to grow up like all the other children; already, my best friend was my remarkably docile teddy bear). At any rate, I had determined that I would walk to preschool, and nothing my mother could say - NOTHING - could convince me otherwise. So, it was with great excitement on my part that she finally relented, and one day, with my brother in his stroller, we found ourselves off on foot towards our destination.

Remember, now: I was four-years-old. Four. With the exception of bizarre super-babies who are born with actual muscle mass and bench-pressing by the age of six, young children just aren't designed for sustained cardiac exercise - that's why they hold off on phys-ed until you're at least old enough to sign a waiver. (I think we were about up to "G" in the alphabet at this time. I've got a "Y" in my name and everything.) Ten minutes in, the love affair with my own brilliance was wavering. Fifteen minutes in, I was begging my mom - carrying a backpack and pushing a carriage - to carry me. By the time the school emerged on the horizon, after who knows how many strenuous minutes, I was just about ready to collapse. We arrived late, and I ended up sleeping most of that class. (At least I rocked nap time!) So much for great ideas.

This is just my extremely roundabout way of saying that I have been stubborn my whole life, and regretting said stubbornness almost as long. Generally, when I get an idea in my head, it happens. On the other hand, I'm extremely cautious, and fairly sensitive to criticism - likely survival instincts instilled by the Creator when the alternative to sense became apparent. So how does someone who craves a world where everything is "right," after defining her own "rights" and "wrongs," get through life? At the moment, I compensate by simply doing things on my own terms - my way or the highway - and trying not to mourn every roadblock. It works surprisingly well.

And then I came to a country that has already put a great deal of its own thought into what's "right" and "wrong," and just like that, my policy was put to the test. Which brings us to the dawning of 2009, where Amanda sits in her third apartment within a year, after seeing off her third roommate within a year, searching for her fourth job. It was meant to be a year of chances. So far, so good...

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