Autobiography

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This is an essay I wrote in grad school. I just came across it, and I think it's Hitrecord worthy ;)


There are a few essential things you should know about me. I am a closet Twilight addict. In the shower, I pretend to be Haley Williams from the punk band Paramore. I am currently writing a novel which may just be terrible. It’s too soon to tell. In a strange twist of very late wish fulfillment, I think I have become invisible and forgettable, even though I’m 6’2”. I have been writing poetry for twenty years, but I’ve only had one poem published – when I was 10. Those are the only things that really matter. The following is just fluff.


I am the black sheep of my family. I told my mother this last night, and she said my father was. I told her you couldn’t be the black sheep if you made the rules. Mom has always chosen to believe that I fit in perfectly with the rest of them, but I simply do not. I am an ultra-liberal lesbian atheist. My parents and sister are very traditional, conservative Republican Christians. My mother couldn’t be any more wrong if she tried.


Growing up in Maine, my mother was an adventurous spirit, a feminist, a progressive, an organic baby food making Le Leche League member. In short, she was a hippie – complete with the long wavy hair and flowing floral dresses. My father had his first office job after working in the Amazon Rainforest for five years. I have a great picture of Dad, my little sister, and myself standing in front of our Volkswagen Camper before he went to work. He looked a bit out of his element in his dress shirt and tie. He was carrying a hard-sided brown leather briefcase and had a goofy mustache (He shaved off his full beard for the new job.) My parents hardly seem like the same people now.


When I was 7, we moved to Louisiana. Instead of a lemonade stand, I sold pears to truckers for a penny a piece. We lived on a dirt road, and our only neighbor was a warehouse. So, truck drivers were my only traffic. They did stop, though, and they bought my pears which I picked fresh from the backyard. We lived in an old farmhouse situated in the middle of a pecan grove. That place seems like a dream now – twenty foot ceilings that seemed twice as high to me then, our huge playhouse dad built, running as fast as we could to catch the ice cream man. We never made it. The road was just too far away.


After Louisiana, we lived on a lake in Mississippi for five years. This was a dream come true for me and my sister. We loved to swim, and we also learned to water ski while we lived there. One particularly beautiful day, Emily and I were helping Mom work in the yard. Dad was out of town. My sister – only seven years old – was driving the John Deere riding lawn mower while Mom and I were picking up pine cones and throwing them in the back.


I hardly remember how it happened, but Emily got too close to the lake, panicking at the last minute. She jumped off the tractor moments before it plummeted over the lake wall and into the water. We had half the neighborhood helping us pull it back out of the lake. Dad was out of town at the time, and he happened to call at a particularly bad moment. Mom was in the lake trying to push the tractor over the wall while the neighbors were on the other side pulling. The portable phone was outside with us, and our twelve year old neighbor, Beth, answered. You can imagine what this sounded like to my father – the little girl next door answering the phone, dismissing him and hanging up quickly, water splashing in the background. Dad didn’t know what was happening, but he considered the possibility that the house was on fire. As it turned out, Beth answering the phone was a blessing in disguise. Dad was so relieved something more tragic hadn’t happened that he wasn’t very upset about his beloved John Deere.


My family moved to South Carolina next, where I attended middle and high school. We lived in a beautiful two-hundred year old caretaker’s house on an old plantation. We had a large pond in the back yard, and there was almost always an alligator living in the pond. I was in college when the alligator started eating my sister’s cats. Dad called county wildlife control, but they said they wouldn’t move it because it wasn’t a danger to humans. Then one Christmas break I drove down the half mile dirt road and into the driveway to find Dad and his best friend wrestling the alligator. Yes, they were wrestling the alligator. They succeeded in getting the gator into the bed of my father’s truck and driving it out to the country to release it. They were quite proud of themselves. A new gator was living in the pond within a week.


I have had some interesting times with my family. I know my parents have been the most influential people in my life, and my sister knows me better than anyone. I love these crazy people, and I will never understand why I’m so different from them in so many ways. It’s not just our political and religious viewpoints that are so different. Our tastes in music and movies are even different. Our values also differ greatly. My friends are people they would probably never encounter. I would rather lie in an ant pile than be stuck in a room with some of my sister’s friends. We all love each other passionately, though, and I am completely loyal to my family. These are the people who define me. I am defined both by our common experiences and our dramatic differences. I am the black sheep, but I embrace this definition. It’s just who I am.

Created: Feb 26, 2014

Tags: non-fiction, prose, essay

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