This post is fashioned after the ever-popular "I Am" writing contest, which I first discovered in Cara's blog. If the length seems daunting, read it in installments throughout the week. :)
I am the only daughter of a man who grew up lucky as the foreman's son on a pineapple plantation on Kauai. A man who, as a boy, wore skin brown from the sun, and grabbed at every chance to play baseball. A man who grew into a pastor and whose rounded cheeks seemed fit to burst when he'd smile at his own silly jokes.
I am the middle child of a farmgirl-turned-mother who was timid, yet brave enough to leave the land she knew and shape a life, a home with three children on an island swallowed by the vast Pacific. A frugal mother who religiously rinsed bread bags and mixed powdered milk into liquid chalk, all so she could be the one to fill our hours with hopscotch and Encyclopedia Brown and painting water pictures on the sidewalk. Who knew, intuitively, that scraping by in exchange for the riches of mommy-time was a marvelous trade indeed.
I am the child who played chase and scaled fallen trees with the mostly-boys in our townhouse complex, deep green groundcover itching at our ankles. The one who begged to help my dad open the neighborhood pool on Saturdays, when the morning water sat cold and freshly chlorinated. Whose idea of high fashion was surf jams and jelly shoes. Whose blessedness is measured by the fact that my single childhood tragedy was the death of my puppy, Sugar, broken by a heavy branch falling from a tree.
I am the preteen-turned-Cinderella overnight; suddenly, surprisingly noticed by all the boys as if doused in fairy dust. Who tripped all over myself in the ensuing case of vanity. Who wore stretch pants, dangly earrings, and teased my bangs sky-high. Who took a while to learn to be a good friend.
I am the teenager wrapped up in a pursuit of romance. Who often went to school in whatever t-shirt I wore to bed the night before; who woke up with just enough time to brush my teeth and pull into the parking lot as the first bell rang. Who found quiet joy in an afternoon job playing with preschoolers. Who thought it strangely wondrous how different the beach was at night: sharp points of stars, sand cooling beneath my feet, water ebbing and pulling like thinned ink. Who danced to Bryan Adams and Boys II Men and had a penchant for "classics" from the sixties. I am the girl who finally learned to love, but with a boy who left gaping wounds in his wake. Who was prom queen and valedictorian, yet knew I fooled no one; who sensed I was all shell and no substance. Who left for a college far, far away just to survive.
I am the college girl who tried cheerleading purely for the love of stunting. Who hated every other aspect of cheering, including the unnerving shock of exposure donning a skirt that never touched the back of my legs. Who fractured my clavicle on the soccer field and subsequently thought codeine a mighty smart invention. Who laughed at college boys with marriage proposals in their eyes. Who traveled to Spain and Portugal on a missions trip, and thought the bougainvilleas seemed just like home. Who watched her someday-to-be-husband playing puppets with the curly-haired children who flocked to him, and developed a soft spot for him in my heart. A soft spot that never did go away.
I am the woman turned mother too soon, but who loved her baby and clung to her husband and did her best until it turned out all right. I am the woman who is nothing anyone hoped for or expected of me. Who is sometimes bothered by this, plagued with restlessness. But who, when my brain is plugged in right, knows with certainty that money and prestige could never carry me anywhere I really wanted to be. Who kisses the crowns of four little heads and knows I wouldn't barter this life for all the diamonds in the bowels of Africa.
I am the woman who still feels like a girl playing house some days. Who chafes at cleaning but does it anyway because clutter and grime assault my personal peace. Who loves the idea of baking with her children, but has a thing against flour on the floor. Who will plod on, bleary-eyed, till 4 AM just to finish a good novel. Whose heart rends into jagged pieces when I read of children crushed by poverty, slavery, horrific war. Who would love to spend a summer, a decade, a lifetime singing them to sleep at night.
I am the person who, in spite of all of the above, all of the selfish ugliness and the injuries inflicted on everyone within my reach, has been redeemed by a grace larger than my pain. Who trusts that God knows what He's doing and is able to find use for me yet.