Wow, I am having an unexpected moment. I read this the other day and found it so wise and beautiful. And then I spent a few moments looking into the eyes of this young girl and I was brought almost to tears thinking about her. It’s a face I can hardly recognise. I cannot see myself in her. I know that she wore her favourite, very special earrings that day and brushed her hair just so. I know she hated her teeth, and still does. I know she didn’t like how her hair sat uneven. She, like probably every other girl her age, judged herself way too harshly. She did always love the colour of her eyes though, even still now.
I guess she is about 10 years old here so I’m going to make it nice and neat and say it was 30 years ago today. Here is my self indulgent tribute to this dear little girl who created the first of my footprints in the sand.
My first thought is that you are sweet and kind looking, that you have perfect skin and lovely warm eyes. The ravages of late teen/early twenties acne will later come to destroy that beautiful skin, and you will despair that you are ugly for years. I’m sorry that you tried to overcompensate by presenting yourself as less that you were to feel attractive. I wish that you could have known and trusted yourself well enough to treat yourself better and expect better quality attention. But you eventually learned.
That hesitant smile tells me you are uncomfortable, the way you often are still. You think that everyone around you is smarter, happier and somehow a part of a loop that you missed out on. But you’re just fine. You’re good enough, smart enough, and in some ways honey, you’re even better than those in that loop. And the loop isn’t all it’s made out to be.
You have this cute plan for your life. You’ll marry a rich guy, rich enough to have heaps of kids. Even at 10, you know that you need lots of money to have lots of kids. You know you don’t want to live poor like you are the day this was taken. You know you don’t want your kids’ Christmas tree to be a broken off tree branch drowning in tinsel. You know you never want your kids to drink powdered milk and sleep three to a room. And you know you never want to be on the phone to your ex-husband crying for money for the boy’s school shoes. I can’t remember you ever having any ideas of your being able to contribute to the world in any way other than becoming an actress and having all those kids. This is amazing to me. I’m sorry that it took you another 15 or so years to think that you could be something very worthwhile. I mean no disrespect to actresses, who I know are very worthwhile, it’s just that had I become one, the world of the arts would not have been the richer, let’s leave it at that.
I won’t tell you now how your little plan for the next generation turns out. I may scare you off ever getting pregnant and it would be a gosh damn shame for the world to miss out on little Mr 5 and the Troublesome Two. As for your choice of rich husband, well here is where I know you learnt a thing or two since that photo. He’ll never make the Forbes list, but my girl, you chose substance over stuff and I’m so impressed. You were patient enough to wait and even to say that no husband was better than the wrong husband. You eventually found some quality attention, and have it still.
I’d like to walk in a park with this little girl. I’d love to have the chance to cuddle her close and listen to her troubles. I don’t think I’d offer her much advice. Can I finally say I am proud of her? I am. Happy Birthday.