Monday, September 21, 2009

My First Autumn

(Pre-Script: This post turns a whole new leaf when read while the song, " Everybody's Changing," #56 on the playlist, plays in the background. So go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When I was ten, I met a girl named Autumn. Before this, I had never known that girls with names as exotic (to me) as "Autumn" existed. When you are a ten year old girl, and you meet a girl named Autumn, instead of hearing it as a beautiful, artistic name with a nicely flowing rhythm, your thoughts tend to veer to the left, and go something like, "How unfortunate for her. What a weird name." Most 10 year old girls do not appreciate variations in the names of their peers. Fitting in is the ultimate. Being status quo and just like everyone else is the epitome of everything, to a ten year old girl, or at least it was to the ten year old girl who was me.
As grown ups, we appreciate variations and rhythm in names. We appreciate the flow and sound and meaning of a name, and if anything, when naming our own children, we probably tend to steer away from the most popular names of the year. You don't want your kid to be one of the 10 with the same name in his or her Kindergarten class. But we forget that to a Kindergartner, it's FUN to be one of the 10 with the same name. It's like you are a part of a special club. At least, it was to the Kindergartner who was me. I used to make mental lists of all the Michelle's or Michele's I had ever met. Spelling didn't matter so much, as long as pronunciation was the same. I was always pleasantly awed to have a new Michelle to add to my list.
So when I met a girl named "Autumn," I felt for her, in a "Sucks to be you" sort of way. understand, the empathy of a ten year old only goes so far, in certain least, the empathy of the 10 year old who I was. In other areas, my empathy was off the chats. The sight of an old man crossing the street could make me weep, for example. So I guess there was a trip in the wiring of my brain's empathy system...But gosh, I was only 10 years old, I was not half as mature as your 10 year old child, my Dear Imaginary Reader...For I am sure that you are reading this, thinking to yourself, "Not MY 10 year old son or daughter. MY precious little angel is ALways completely empathetic and sympathetic towards others."
Well, good for you.
But I am not your 10 year old.
To be fair to myself, though, let me back the truck up for a moment and explain that even as a 10 year old, it would never have occured to me to tease this girl. Make fun of her in any capacity?
Deny her friendship or kindness?
Feel sorry for her and SO SO glad not to be her?
Yes, yes, sure.
Here's what I remember about my first "Autumn": She had reddish hair. She lived in a house with a lot of cats. She ate brown sugar out of a little dish as a snack. She ate it by dipping one finger in, then licking the brown sugar off of her finger. She ate brown sugar for a snack because her Grandmother told her that it was good for her. That sounded fine to me. In fact, it sounded down right revolutionary to me. I have always been a big fan of brown sugar, so I was all in favor of this non conventional way of enjoying brown sugar that did not require a bowl of Malt O Meal or Grape Nuts. I was ready to launch a campaign for brown sugar snack time in my own home. My ten year old self was, anyway. My 33 year old self is more suspicious of these things, and will stick to happily eating brown sugar on Malt O Meal. But let's not forget, folks, that a certain percentage my 33 year old self is made up of my 10 year old self, that certain percentage being roughly just under a 3rd.
My 33 year old self wonders what Autumn is doing now, if she likes her name, and if she feels that she has grown to inhabit it. I also wonder if she still eats brown sugar off of her fingers, if she ever got rid of all of the cats.



Kevin said...

Your children have fairly common names. Do they have classmates with the same names?

Michelle said...

Kevin, the point of the post is about the thought process of myself at 10 vs. myself at 33.

Michelle said...

But to answer your question, "Kristina" is not a name that is common in this generation, and "Jeremy" is extremely rare these days. "Ethan" is common, we hear it from time to time, and I think "Natalie" is somewhere in between.