I spent some quality time with my younger self this week. No, I am not speaking metaphorically. I literally committed an act of time travel.
We sometimes forget that we have this amazing capacity to go back in time in the form of memories and photo albums. My grandfather was an outstanding time lord in that he preserved so much of my personal history by chronicling major and minor events of my earliest years. Back then, the only world I knew was one wherein he and my grandmother were steady anchors in my life. Hardly a week would go by when I didn’t get to see them and God had to know I would need that to hold onto in the years to come.
When the day came that my parents moved us away from home to a far and distant land, I felt cut off and adrift from almost everything I had ever know. I entered the fairytale version of the time of tribulation. You know, when a villainous act leads to the separation of the heroine from all that she holds dear until she finds a way to save herself or is otherwise saved.
Except, my life was not built on a fairytale.
It would take me years to recognize that through letters and sparse but critical visits my grandparents, and by extension all of the family that we left behind, really and truly continued to anchor and ground me in who I am. The experience of growing up so far away certainly changed me. Sometimes, I suspect that it made it hard for my family to even recognize the girl in front of them because I became what one might call a hybrid in order to fit myself to the environments that I lived in away from my loved ones.
My simple childhood ended the day I boarded that Uhaul truck and I waved goodbye to this little girl who could not have known how beautifully and frighteningly this one life change would alter her destiny.
The file my grandfather saved of my writings holds the truth of my journey in the spaces where my memory is faded. Running my fingers over the handwritten and later typewritten notes, I feel closer to him than I have felt in the years since his passing.
My eyes are full of happysad tears and a fierce appreciation of the time treasure Grandaddy left behind for me. I’d like to think he knew I’d need this one day and that is enough to make me smile as I plan to forge into my fourth decade of existence.
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.