A few days shy of twenty years ago I turned nine. I got a puppy for my birthday and named her Addy.
I had everything I could’ve possibly needed and more than I could want, but if you’d asked me what was most important it would’ve been that puppy (Addy) and my Walkman.
I had a decent collection of cassette tapes for a 9 year old and my dad had an endless supply from which I could’ve borrowed, but I only ever listened to two things – The Lion King soundtrack and a tape that had the macarena on each side. I could (and would) flip it over when the song finished so I could listen to the same thing again.
I’d walk Addy up and down the sidewalks on our street in the cookie-cutter new construction neighborhood we lived in, with my headphones on, bobbing my head to a beat no one else could hear.
Twenty years ago I wore my ponytails very tight. I had a thing about bumps in my hair. The top had to be smooth, for no reason other than it bothered me to feel my ponytail flopping around loosely against my head. A headband slipping off of my head while I run gives me the same pseudo-anxiety now.
When I was nine I was always reading multiple books at any given time and it drove my teachers crazy. I spent hours in the school library researching Harriet Tubman and when I ran out of resources there, I had my mom take me to the county libraries.
I asked the school librarian questions like “Why do some Dr. Seuss books say they’re by Theodore S. Geisel?”
I wore circle glasses like those Harry Potter wears, but the frames weren’t nearly as thick.
I was too young to understand how my friend who wore halter tops to school was the reason they created a dress code.
And too naive to realize that the songs I made up while laying in the grass in our front yard wouldn’t ever actually make me famous.
I took dance classes and piano lessons. I sang in a choir at church and swam on a swim team all summer long. I started playing softball and basketball and raced the mile faster than any other girl in my grade.
Twenty years ago I didn’t know if I was taller than other people around me and wouldn’t have cared if I did.
On my ninth birthday, I stood in the foyer of our home in a black turtleneck and black jeans holding a three pound puppy and posed for a photo as she squirmed up from my arms toward my shoulders.
I wish I could find that photo.