This weekend, I tweeted this:
From skulls in which I found easter eggs (my grandmother was a live-drawing professor for 30 years) to my nearly 11-year-old subscription to The Economist (from my West Point-grad, nuclear physicist grandfather), I have no inclination to call my childhood normal. I possess the standard-issue memories of long car-trips to get to the mountains and bedtime stories–but in my family, those drives were narrated by the BBC’s The Lord of the Rings audio books and my bedtime stories were heftier texts than most college-level Literature courses. And I loved it that way.
I occasionally end up in the uncomfortable position of trying to explain why my life’s lens has the warps and clear-places it does. I usually start by describing my amazing pre-high school education. After a brief overview of my tree-climbing years without standardized tests and with mutually-respectful relationships with teachers, most people stop asking. But my school-home is only part of my background. My strong families, my cities, my dojo, and my book-mentors all played just as important roles in forming why I like iguanas as well as kittens and or get warm-and-fuzzies from re-reading Edgar Allen Poe.
My grandmother’s tarantula is also part of the answer. And it is far from normal.
“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.”–Margaret Atwood