Or Is She?

Fragments of thoughts that I had subtly been gathering in my mind for a while were finally summoned together by Véro’s latest post.

I was as much a character from her story, as she was a character from my own narrative. But what kind of character? That is really what I’m wondering. What little parts of you stay with the people you meet along the years?

Still, my memories from being 12 are filled with her presence.

Véro talks about reuniting with a childhood friend who was once dear to her and then they grew apart, and how she will never again meet the child she herself once was. That child is gone.

Or is she?

“You’re still the same girl, no?” an Italian once asked me at the end of a story.

“We’re all following our own paths, aren’t we?” philosophized a Brazilian I once chatted with.

Some moments stick with you forever, and some don’t. Why do we choose to remember the ones we do?

Were they meaningful to our past selves or – perhaps – more so to our present selves? Do they shape how our future will go? Why do near strangers sometimes have a strong impact on our lives or stay in our memories?

And friendships… Out of all the friends I had as a kid, there is only one my mind keeps returning to, almost disturbingly. I dream at night about that period of when I was around 12, like Véro. I don’t long to reunite with my best friend from those days, but my brain keeps doing so.

Why? The only clue I have is that it might’ve been a significant period of my life in other ways, and somehow my brain retained all of it. Even the parts that didn’t matter.

And this girl – am I a recurring guest star in her dreams too, or has she more or less forgotten about me? Do I perhaps feature unexpectedly in some other friend’s or classmate’s memories?

I once had a British penpal who told me he’d decided to move to Japan because I had encouraged him to study Asian languages. It was a big decision, taking a complete new turn in his life, and he was excited. And I was just a penpal! I wonder if he became a language teacher. We lost touch.

How do the people we meet impact us? How do we impact them? I believe we are the sum of our experiences, but some encounters still fly under the radar and are easily lost in the wild.

What about childhood in general – as a parent, it feels slightly nerve-wracking knowing that any tiny, insignificant thing might end up becoming something life-changing. I didn’t watch the Elton John movie – it seems like a tear-jerker and I just can’t deal with that kind of nostalgia (Elton John formed a large part of the soundtrack of my childhood, since he was my mother’s favourite for a seemingly long time). But I saw the trailer: a three-year-old Elton runs downstairs on Christmas morning and is happily surprised by a piano waiting for him, while his mother beams with pride and good intentions. Who knew what path of fate was about to unravel in front of that little boy. What if he hadn’t received that piano, what would have become of him?

I haven’t bought my kids a piano. Am I depriving them of something? They haven’t yet swam in the sea, petted a cat, or traveled on an airplane. Some kids this age have already joined a local football club for kids. Some are constantly surrounded by friends of their parents, having late night picnics while our boys are in bed. While I do try my best to give them new experiences, obviously there are many missing that they could have had by now. Are our boys missing out on something important? Which moments will they later on say were defining childhood moments? How am I shaping their identities with my everyday preferences, like offering them mango flavours instead of apple? The choices I don’t even think of might be the ones that matter.

Lately, I’ve heard many people in my neighbourhood complain about the lack of nature here. I live in a downtown area in the capital city and it is surrounded by the sea. It’s a seaside town and my neighbourhood is also by the sea, so I’m always amazed at this complaint. Isn’t the sea part of nature? It’s right here! What are you complaining about? We also have a large green park. It’s urban, yes, but this is the country’s capital after all! We aren’t in the countryside. What are you expecting if you live in the city?

And then I remember: hang on, the people complaining are probably originally from small rural towns and villages. I check: yes, they are. That explains it. Their definition of “nature” is forest. There is no forest in our neighbourhood (like I said, it’s downtown!!!) and to them, that means there is no nature. The sea means nothing to them because they didn’t grow up here. They grew up near the forest and that’s what they miss. Walking in the woods. For me, that’s foreign territory, and while enjoyable (if you don’t get ticks or deer flies stuck in your skin), it’s not something I’ll ever miss because it’s never been a part of my personal culture… the cultural identity that my mind formed of me when I was little. They aren’t called formative years for nothing. The things that feel familiar and normal to us are the things we grew up with.

So Véro, I would say the little girl you once were isn’t gone, not at all. She is very much with you. Just look in the mirror closely and you’ll see her. She is guiding all your decisions and opinions, whether you realise it or not.

59 responses to “Or Is She?

  1. A thought-provoking post that will stick with me. I’m especially intrigued with the question: “How do the people we meet impact us?” There are so many answers to that, and, as bloggers who never really meet the other bloggers, we are impacted by their selections of topics, photos, and words. Thanks for impacting me — in many positive ways.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Regarding kids, there’re NO way to get it completely right! Trust me. It’s damned if you will, damned if you won’t. You can only do your best and not worry too much.🤣🤣🤣

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I didn’t buy my children a piano either but they did have a rich environment in terms of their interests and what we could afford. Love and attention go a long way in raising healthy adults.
    I don’t think of the young girl I was and I don’t really think my childhood made much of a difference to who I became. I felt like most of my learning took place once I left home and became an adult at 17.
    Deer flies! What are they? I thought the Scandi forests did not have nasty creatures like our forests do…?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You must’ve had a very stable childhood and youth, if nothing stood out and made an impact. Good for you!
      Oh yes, deer flies and ticks, I’m sure I’ve written of them. Ticks carry all sorts of diseases (have you read the blogger Cee’s coma story?) and their numbers just keep growing. They are even present in Helsinki parks. I miss good old cockroaches the size of mice!! 😂 Those tiny ticks can go unnoticed and create havoc. https://liveinfinland.wordpress.com/2013/09/10/bugs-bug-me/

      https://yle.fi/uutiset/osasto/news/tick_tock_finlands_ticks_still_thirst_for_blood/11010194

      Liked by 1 person

      • A stable childhood? Perhaps. You could even say boring childhood, in some ways. We only moved once and I was too young for that to have a strong impact although I did have to find new friends at school. There are many events that stood out and that I remember but I can’t say that they had a monumental impact on my life. That came much later in high school I think. I do know that ticks can cause a lot of problems, like Q fever and other illnesses, both here and in your part of the world. I didn’t know that they were a huge problem. Deer flies, I have never heard of and even though I don’t know anything about them I would trade them for cockroaches. Are they like March flies?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting reflections, Snow!! Now you made me think about the girl I was… is she still there?? She was born in the Canary islands, she moved quite a few times when she was little (with means new cities and schools), she always went to the beach in summer… I still dream I’m that girl and I dream a lot with my school friends (not so much with the ones from the Uni, I wonder why…)… But I also dream a lot with exams at school that I can’t answer… Hehehe… I wonder if my school friends ever dream with me! I don’t speak with them often, but I think that probably seeing things about they in social media can be one of the reasons why I dream with people from that part of my life… who knows!!
    Well, I think I’m that girl, but life changes and experiences mold us in so many unexpected ways… I though I was going to spend my life being a lawyer or a judge in Spain… And here I am, living in Switzerland (after Ireland and after Sweden….), loving snowy winters, the mountains and forests… If someone would had told me that 20 years ago, I wouldn’t had believed it!
    And about the piano and your boys… I wouldn’t worry that much! I’m pretty sure you’re doing great!! I was in the swimming team in my school, and I also rode on horse when I was little… I’m neither a swimmer in the Spanish Olympic team or a horse rider, hehehe. What I’m saying is that it’s not the piano, but also talent and doing what makes you happy. I guess what’s more important is to educate and make your boys happy!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Such an interesting response, Mercedes! 🤗 Do you think that you moving often as a child influenced you moving as a grown-up? Ie. you had the courage and initiative to do so – and probably feel at home anywhere (like me)?
      I’m curious, how were the Canary Islands in your childhood – do you remember there being too many tourists or was tourism ok?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do think that influenced me a lot!! Maybe those experiences and that we travelled a lot around Spain when I was little have helped me a lot with moving to other countries. Settling in a foreign country is never easy… specially when you don’t speak well the local language (my English was soooo pathetic when I first moved to Stockholm 8 years ago!!), and there is always a bit of cultural shock at the beginning, even if you move inside Europe… But I think it’s also a very rewarding experience!! And yes, now I feel more at home in Switzerland than in Spain… my family and friends are there and I love to visit Madrid, but I feel that those visits are only temporary. I guess now I’m totally settled in Zurich! And it’s such a nice feeling 🙂
        I don’t remember many things about Gran Canaria or Tenerife from when I was a little girl… I went there some 12 years ago and tourism wasn’t that bad then. But I guess if I go now (or, better said, if I would have gone last year, before the pandemic!) I would have a very different experience. It’s what happened a few months ago when I visited Seville. I remember it from my childhood as beautiful and traditional and not so very crowded. 10 years ago, when I returned briefly for a weekend, it had changed a bit, but it was still a very nice city. Last October, I found Seville a bit overcrowded and too changed!! Everything was tourism focused, there was hardly any traditional business anymore and queues for the cathedral or the Alcazar were sooooo huge…. I love Seville and have great memories from this city, but I don’t quite like what I found last time! Now I wonder how everything will be after this weird year… Will the mass tourism be back or people are going to take things easy?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I went to the Canary Islands a few times 11-12 years ago, too, for work (as a flight attendant). It was during winter and I quite liked it: peaceful and warm. Sometimes I wonder if the locals (not there but in ALL major tourist destinations) like or dislike tourists. Or maybe it depends on the person 😊 Mass tourism was really getting out of hand before corona!! But I have a feeling people will go back to doing exactly the same, if/when corona ends…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well…. for those working on restaurants, hotels or having a Airbnb, tourism is a blessing! It means income, and they won’t complain about mass tourism or overcrowded tourist attractions and monuments, will they?? And, in the end, it doesn’t matter if the tourist are low cost or not… they are going to spend money in the city anyways! So that is also good for the economy of that destination and even implies that there’s more income for the public administration… I guess tourism is uncomfortable for those that don’t depend on it but still have to deal with lots of people in the streets everyday…. (when I was a lawyer in Madrid, my office was in the city centre… sometimes it was a bit frustrating to walk on the streets with hundreds of people stopping in front of me to take selfies or whatever and I was in a hurry… or I couldn’t eat at my favourite restaurant near the office because it was full of tourists…. hehehe).
            I think the same… even if we have to learn to live with the virus, eventually everything will be back to normal… and tourism is not exception! There are so many countries that depend on it (Spain and the rest of southern European countries, of course, but even Switzerland is suffering not having tourists!!)

            Liked by 1 person

            • I’ve understood that Italians were pretty fed up with tourists – and I got the impression myselft, too, the last time I was there – but good to know some destinations still think of it logically 🤪 We haven’t exactly had that problem over here! 😆 Though cruise tourist numbers were on the rise here too before corona

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  5. ˝The things that feel familiar and normal to us are the things we grew up with.˝ yes, the most banal example is food. my husband often says, but my granny made that dish differently or he says my dad often made that dish, why don’t you make it?:)) I too, often think what will my children remember and cherish from their childhood, how my speech, behavior, and life choices impact them..it’s quite scary actually!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I guess what’s really important is having opportunities, or at least knowing what opportunities are out there. If we know what is possible and available to us, we have the chance to discover talents and passions. The motto of my high school was “knowledge is power”, and I often find instances like this in which that is very true. (Kind of related – my primary school’s motto was “fortitude and fidelity”, which I still remember and still say to myself sometimes. It definitely had an impact on my growing up!)

    I also wonder if the people I randomly think of ever think of me, especially if it’s someone I haven’t seen in ages. Sometimes it can be the simplest little thing that makes me think of someone, but sometimes there seems to be no prompt. Some memories seem meaningless, and I wonder why my brain held on to it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here, so many meaningless memories! Shouldn’t humans be codes to only remember the super fun and blissful moments, or moments to learn from? Why all these random things, taking up brain space! 😁
      As for knowing what possibilities even exist, that’s a good point and I’ve actually thought about that sometimes. When I was 18 and choosing what I would be doing for the rest of my life, I really didn’t know about all the options. It seems funny in retrospect, but I never knew that I could have become for example a marine biologist or a photographer. It would’ve helped to have had internet back then!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally agree on being ‘the sum of our experiences.’ But how do we know at the time which are important experiences and which aren’t? When I look back, I definitely see that my life path has been shaped by big experiences and by small ones that, at the time, didn’t seem significant.
    One thing I’ve found, as I’ve got older, is that memories from my past pop up, sometimes in dreams, sometimes in relation to something going on in my life. Often these are things I’d ‘forgotten.’ I tend to think that the memories are all there, it’s the retrieval mechanism that fails, possibly from lack of use, possibly for some other reason. But now I might remember a vivid encounter with someone I knew when I was 14, but who I have really no interest in reconnecting with these days.
    As for your parenting (and no, I don’t have kids), nobody provides everything for their kids. It’s not possible. If someone tried, both they and their kids would probably go insane. I think if parents do the best they can, that’s as much as anyone can ask. The kids will figure it out as they grow older, as we adults did (in theory). My folks regularly took me to the beach and I hated swimming in the ocean because it was cold and I was a skinny wretch. Now I love to snorkel. I guess I could blame my parents for not moving to the tropics, but that seems a little harsh! Today I saw an unusual crab, which reminded me of this kid I knew when I was 12 …

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    • So many interesting thoughts here and I can relate to them. As for the first part, experiences that influence us, sometimes these things seem so random. But then, maybe our genes&dna guide us towards doind certain things that make us end up in the situations that influence us… maybe the seed was already planted? Just a thought.
      As for memories, I was just reminded today of something I had completely forgotten, and after that reminder I slowly began to remember… but then I’m not sure if I really remember or if my mind is simply painting a scene around the thing I was reminded about. Maybe our mind makes up some memories or changes them – but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that somewhere and it’s not an original thought of mine 😊

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      • So many things go in to making us who we are and the effect of those things varies from person to person. You could have two similar people, from the same family even, and an event could have a profound effect on one of them while not impacting the other at all. I guess this is part of the mystery of life, that we each have to go through it and figure it out for ourselves, because we’re unique individuals.
        I agree that our minds can make up memories. Sometimes it might be to protect us from trauma, sometimes because the wires get crossed. I have a bit of a random memory that remembers unimportant details from years ago, but is quite capable of forgetting important matters from earlier the same day!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Contrary to Amanda I do really think childhood makes a lot of who we become as adults. And there is nothing wrong with what you’ve been offering your boys so far – love is all you need!
    It’s not only parents, it’s everything else : friends, school, holidays, future trips, ferry rides, family… All the things they will discover and grow fond of – or hate! – all the people they will meet, all the experience which will touch their souls in some ways… That’s what will build the adult version of them.
    Just like this 12 year old friend of yours who come and visit you at night with a bag full of memorabilia attached to a particular period of time… That’s one of your own walls, one of your own roots.

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  9. This post gives plenty to think about. Having no kids, I can only offer the perspective of being one. What children remember, is what they had, not what they didn’t have. They remember what the parents did from what they had to work with, superman-style. You know it, you are a writer: it’s all in the narrative and presentation. The feeling of not being good enough or not having enough is installed, not inborn.

    I love your post for the reminiscence, for the parallel realities of two sets of memories. I never think about what people remember about me. Frankly, I’m afraid to ask. If you ask my sister, she would write a novel, I’m sure. It wasn’t easy to be my younger sister (probably still isn’t).

    But how fascinating to contemplate: Which little things you say and do really matter, to you or somebody else? Which are the signs that lead one on the path they would never consider otherwise? Isn’t this all one can do, really, to offer support and encouragement and positive vibes so that an unexplored territory becomes the reality?

    Good luck with that, giving and receiving. A great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Manja for the encouraging comment 😊
      And ”parallel realities of two sets of memories”, that is really fascinating to think of and so very true. I think we all narrate our tales as we go and memories must be quite different depending on who you ask.
      As for kids not having things, I disagree with you on that. Surely a kid who longs for a pet and doesn’t get one might end up becoming a vet for that very reason. Like me longing for warmer weather as a young teen in Finland and then turning to the travel industry as an employer so that that dream could happen. Of course, it depends on if you’re talking about a kid who’s two or a kid who’s 10… But I believe the things we don’t have influence us just as much as what we do have. Both as kids and as grown-ups: in fact, much of the travel industry is based on that idea, isn’t it 🤔😊
      Ciao from my cool balcony on a sunny and windy summer’s day! 🍓

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I was thinking more of a 2-year-old. I wanted a dog sooooo much all my childhood and only got my first at 29. From the trash. Some people are much more proactive about what they didn’t have as kids, I think. So not much generalising is possible, we are all different and it’s good this way.

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  10. Let me put it this way: You are probably faithful to the 12 year old girl that you were. (I know I am to the 10 year old boy I was in Africa) Now do I still see old friends from my childhood? Only a couple. And not very often. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. The key thing is: be faithful to yourself. And as a consequence you will do best for your kids. A bientôt.

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  11. Great post. I do think about those I met in my younger years, some cousins and some friends. For me, and my dad, we both have dreams of working in his health food store again…the weird part is that we both have the same sort of dream – someone forgot to lock the front door the night before, and when we get/got to the store, people are waiting for service.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This post is particularly interesting on so many levels!
    Us still being those children we once were and how they keep evolving every day with every decision we make; how we are the persons we are today because of what has been presented to us or not presented to us. It’s always so impressive and quite overwhelming to think about everything that could have happened, the people we could have become had things been different.

    You’re doing your best with your kids; we cannot miss something we don’t know. And I’m pretty sure you’ll give them as many opportunities as possible whenever you can. You, and everyone of us, cannot give each other the infinite possibilities that life can offer..

    And I love how you repeat once more that we all have different backgrounds, education, mindsets and perspectives. The important thing that always remains is that we need to understand each other and stop thinking that what we feel is what everybody else should feel.
    I’m glad you heard what was underlying other people’s words when they feel like there’s no nature around them; we’re all looking for a different kind of nature…

    Hopefully, everyone finds their paths with the best opportunities, possibilities and everyone sees and understand each other’s point of view; we’d live much better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you found this interesting, Juls 😊 Thanks for reading and commenting
      We all have our motives and perspectives – and yes, I believe we sometimes forget or don’t understand that other people’s might not be the same. Individuality is sometimes hard to express in small towns like our capital.
      Hope you are enjoying your summer 😊💕

      Liked by 1 person

  13. You have evoked many thoughts & feelings about people in our lives, friendships past, opportunities we provide to our children, our relationship with nature. I will continue to think on these the rest of the day. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Such a thought-provoking post. I’ve read some novels recently where it echoes some of these similar sentiments. Mrs. Dalloway touches on the childhood aspect and the friends who drift apart and together again and how we change and are yet the same. Another, All Adults Here, touches on those little moments that seem benign that shape us and how as parents we don’t know what those moments will be. We just try our best. 🙂

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  15. A great post – so many important thoughts and insights here. Thank you. I think many of us have similar thought processes, and it is nice to read yours and to see your compassion. I’ve been doing hypnotherapy lately and they do a lot of work with your inner child. Important to acknowledge it, and sometimes easier to love than yourself, and a nice step in the direction of building self-love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds logical, a step to accepting and loving yourself. (One of the commenters didn’t believe childhood has any impact whatsoever on who youbecome so I’m glad to have my opposing feelings backed up!!) Have you been studying hypnotherapy or attending as a customer? thanks for reading!

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