Little Girl, Lost

The little girl I used to be is lost in my basement.

I went down there yesterday looking for a book. I found these pieces of that little girl, scattered in cardboard boxes, plastic storage boxes, and a trunk:

a naked, dirty baby doll.

a plastic circus elephant coin bank; you put the penny in his trunk, pull his tail, and he throws the penny into his back.

her first pair of prescription eyeglasses.

a broken souvenir of the Empire State Building, given to her by her first “boyfriend”; he was 5, she was 4. His mother was her babysitter. He went to New York on a vacation and brought her back the souvenir.

clothes that she made for herself when she was 10 or 11: a skirt, a blouse, shorts, a dress.

one of her favorite sweatshirts: there are two sets of footprints facing each other. One set has 6 toes on each foot. The other set says, “I like you. You’re different!”

her only ballet costume and black ballet shoes.

a pocketbook.

a list of students from her fourth grade class: Chris F, Robby R, Regina H, Tammy M. Contrary Goddess is on that list too.

“Teaching Little Fingers to Play”, “My Recital Book”, “My First Hymn Book”: all circa 1965.

school books: Virginia History and Geography, Spelling Correctly, Journey Through the New World.

a stuffed black bear, souvenir from her trip to the Smokey Mountains when she was 9.

Evening in Paris, purchased at the Ben Franklin on Front Street.

Avon bottles in cartoon character shapes, that used to contain shampoo.

vinyl records: 45s, LPs of Donny Osmond, The Jackson 5.

a matching scarf, hat and mitten set, green and gold striped.


a single blue mitten that she knit herself.

her girl scout handbook.

a heart-shaped pink box that began its life as a Valentine candy container. Now it holds broken costume jewelry, an old wallet, string, various other junky broken things. I think her daddy gave her the candy, but I’m not sure.

Who is this girl, and why is she in pieces in my basement?  

I cried for her. Hard. For hours.

And I can’t seem to stop.


2 responses to “Little Girl, Lost

  1. I was thinking just the other day how I was trying, now, to live my dreams (in whatever form they can take now), to be who I knew and know myself to be, etc. Stuff like that. Words don’t seem adequate to capture the idea thing that was in my head about it. But there is a line in that movie, one last dance, “how many people get a chance to live their own best selves” something like that anyway.

    I spent so many hours at the five and dime. What was the lady’s name (well, I know there were about three or four of them but one was louder, and maybe a redhead?). Remember Marshall’s on Front Street too? I bet I wouldn’t remember two of the fourth grade students other than you. But what makes you cry, you need to get behind and see what is there? What is it really? That’s the hardest thing — what is it really?

  2. Yep, Marshall’s. Wasn’t there a Federated as well? And Addington’s grocery on the corner where the “farmer’s market” is now.

    I think one thing that makes me cry is that, well, there just weren’t many people on this planet that knew that girl (including herself??). There are lots of people that know bits and pieces of her; not so many that know the whole story. The result of all the moving around I guess. And being firmly planted in mid-life, wondering where or how she left her mark on the world.

    I heard a quote by the author of a book entitled “The Wisdom of Menopause” that I really liked–might have to get the whole book. She said something about this being the time in our lives when we let go of the expectations we’ve had about what life was going to be like and create the life we’ve dreamed of having.

    Or something like that. She said it way better, though.

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