Find The Little Girl by special guest Neringa Bryant

“Here is the question: If you could talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you say?  What advice, warnings, or encouragement would you give your younger self?”

 

FIND THE LITTLE GIRL

FIND THE LITTLE GIRL INSIDE YOU AND DON’T LET HER GO  If I could step back using a time machine, and face that tall, awkward looking teenager with the strange name, I doubt I would offer her any advice. But I am amazed by what she survived…

Besides, getting any advice would infer that you have freedom.  Freedom wasn’t an option. At least not then. Since you are the only sibling old enough and capable enough to accept any responsibility, you run the household.  Plus, you are your father’s daughter and do as you are told, without question. You are the “good” daughter.

At sixteen, you were allowed to wear eyeliner.  According to your parents—or your father, you are now considered a grown-up. Did I ever feel any other way?  I don’t remember.  But home life changed again. It was the year your mother had a lobotomy.  She was schizophrenic, as was your sister. When mom came home from the hospital, this time, she was very quiet.

The entire house became strangely quiet. Your parents stopped arguing for a while. Even the two younger brothers seemed quiet. But the smoke-filled rooms continued, mom was up to three packs a day now.  You were never sure how much your father smoked; he hid in his home office (working?).  We were not allowed inside.

As you spoke to her, you realized that Mom lost the memories of her past, especially when a plane flew over the house– and there were a lot of planes.  This time, she didn’t hide under the table waiting for the bombs to drop, like the ones that dropped around her in Berlin during the war.

What little responsibilities you didn’t have until that point, are now yours.  Except for one.  Doing the laundry.  You were never allowed to touch the washing machine, after the last time when you broke it.  Even though you didn’t totally believe you were at fault– but nobody listened, nobody cared– you took the blame. Maybe that is why you became a bit of a nerd.  Curiosity still draws you into a world of cables, machines and technology.  You are comfortable there, still are…

At every point in your life, decisions are always made for you; you don’t even get to choose whether you take the business or college course in parochial high school.  You never understood why they chose the college course curriculum for you.  College was never an option.  Typing would certainly have come in handy now. You were never a part of the discussion. It was just decided.

At sixteen, the neighbor downstairs got you a job.  You start gift-wrapping at the iconic Filene’s basement and are quickly promoted to cashier due to your strong math skills.  You are excited about getting out of the house. You are surprised that your father allows it, but now you can pay for your school lunches.

You were always a good girl. You did what you were told to do, without question. And as your days continued to be consumed with school, work, household tasks, meals and food shopping (Dad got a DUI and lost his license for a year), you struggle and fail in social studies schoolwork.  A bad mark brought you punishment, without any insight or understanding. In school, the nun’s constant droning offered no help to any subject matter except math, so you entertain yourself with stories, which lived in your head for years, and still do.  They were your salvation, strength and escape.

As was going to the movies…  When you could, you snuck off on Saturday to the local theater and watched the continuous showing of whatever MGM musical was playing.  For a quarter you watched all day and inadvertently studied the film format.

Heaven.

But more freedom was taken away when you were told to give up your extra study class for two years. They were filled with elocution classes; you never questioned your father’s motive. Your mother didn’t care one way or another. You will surmise later that he didn’t want you to be subject to the racism he was experiencing having a heavy accent.

All I can say is that turning eighteen–on what you briefly consider the worst day of your life–another change takes place.  Your father throws you out of the house, claiming, “You’ve outgrown your use…” You find yourself standing at the bus station, with the clothes on your back, no job, and no place to go.  You make a phone call to a new friend who lives close by and she let’s you stay the night.  In spite of the unknown, it was a day of freedom, and the first of many life-changing adventures–good, bad or otherwise.  You not only survive, you flourish.  City life and a new job with a small paycheck quickly throws you back in the stream of life. Strangely, you don’t break; you gain a sense of humor.

A choice, my choice.

For whatever reason, no matter how many times you are kicked around, you manage to have an optimistic attitude. But, incredible as it seems, you will be constantly criticized for it.  It seems many people feel if you are optimistic, then you lack professionalism.  The good news, due to your pragmatic “childhood” very little intimidates you. Even the man you meet, who truly gets you.  He gets you for 44 years.  And your son, well, let’s just say he is your light…

I don’t want to give much away, because you do enjoy the adventure.  Our reliable “old soul” gives us stability, strength and the edge of persistence.  And yes, you resurrected the child–that little girl we never really got to see often or play with–shortly after that day of liberty.  That little kid continues to spark our curiosity, which drives our creativity and originality.  Oh, and that little girl adds a huge dose of magic (technology) to our spirit and soul.  We learn the importance of fun.  It is what makes us special and gives us that feeling of being alive.

I wouldn’t give up either part of us, even wearing the eyeliner, as I continue to ask questions… I discover that there is very little we can’t overcome.  I love my life so much now and it is because of that lonely girl, she taught me how to live.

___________________________________________________© 2012 Neringa Bryant

Find the Little Girl by Neringa Bryant

Neringa Bryant

Neringa Bryant’s Bio:  Neringa Bryant is a Writer, Producer, and Director. Her work includes:  2011, co-writer of a romantic suspense titled, Blood Oil; 2010, Writer, Producer & Director of a kid’s short, Who Murdered Mr. Wrinkles (in post-production).; 2008, Co-writer on Pear Me Up, Buttercup, winner of Best Direction, for the Providence 48 Hour Film Festival produced by Goldilocks Production; Neringa has written over 8 screenplays and produced and wrote Eternal Embrace, winner of 1999 Zoe Film Festival, Best Romantic Film on filmfilm.com produced by Unicorn Shadow Production, her signatory companyShe has worked on ten films in various capacity of co-writer and/or crew. Surrendered Spirit, pilot for a television series titled, The Rogues. won first place in Share the Dream (RWA) contest; 2000-2004 Unit Production Manager, of Shadow Glories (aka The Fight) winner of numerous awards produced by Hamzeh Mystique Films, film sold to Mainline. For more information visit her website.