I am awakened by the sound of my own voice. At a volume just a few notches past the minimum sound barrier between my bed and the living room, my sister is watching her favorite collection of 2006 home videos. From the intervals of laughter, “Irreplaceable” by Beyonce blasting on the stereo that sat atop the fireplace, and my dad’s commentary on the quality of my cartwheels, I vividly remember the particular dance show that is triggering my sister’s giggles.
For this particular performance I commissioned my mom as lighting director, my sister as the back-up dancer, and my dad, of course, as the recorder and commentator. Before the show began, I instructed my mom to flicker the lights 10 times. I emerged (tutu clad, pigtails tightly secured) crawling slowly, to build suspense, out of my green plastic play tube. I waited for applause. The one-man-audience gave me a standing ovation. Then, I began the dance I had spent hours choreographing -- three spins into the center of the carpet, followed by a cartwheel directly into a leap, forward roll onto the floor, and finally a series of dramatic arm movements that I improvised as I waited for my back-up dancer to emerge at her musical cue. “Anna!!!!!!!” I yelled, frustrated.
I hear my raspy voice complete the call to my sister as I lie in my bed, per usual, my memorization is perfectly on time.
Annoyed that Anna did not immediately come running at my call, I continued to sit on the floor until reluctantly crawling back through the tube, still adhering to the beat. I hoped the audience would believe this was a component of the dance. Reaching the other side of the tube I stood up, no longer in performance mode, as if by crawling through the tube I was magically transported to an invisible backstage even though I was still in full sight of the audience. I stormed off into my sister’s bedroom where she was supposed to be waiting patiently to join me on stage. At this point, I left the camera’s view and entered the room -- our muffled argument was incoherent.
Like radio static, my memory is fuzzy at this part. But whatever I say in the room, I re-emerge dragging my co-star by both hands.
Together we sank into the tube, both angrily glaring at each other. However, as we reappeared at the other end, our faces were wiped of any and all annoyance. Our smiles were rebirthed on both of our faces cleansed through our convenient performance entrance, now ready to complete the performance.
As the music restarts and my six-year-old self spins into the center of the carpet for the second time I think about other things I remember about being six.
I remember that I was a fairy for Halloween: A dark fairy to be exact, with a black leotard and
sparkly black wings. I explain in the interview that my father recorded before I’d gone trick or treating that I wanted to show that “even the kindest creatures have dark sides.”
I remember the first goal I scored in my U6 co-ed soccer league and I was the first girl to score on our team. My father showed the video at our Chrismukkah party that year.
I remember my first day of first grade, I wore all pink, even though I hated the color, and I had a brace on my thumb because I was a big girl, and big girls don’t suck their thumbs.
Six was a big year, but I can’t remember how any of it felt. Or maybe I just can’t hear the sounds of my memory over the music.
“Anna!!!” I yell, “turn it down”.
But as the volume sinks below the wall-breaking noise level, I still struggle to re-enter my younger body. Rather than memories, my visions of myself don’t feel like my own, more like pieces of a memorized plot from the eyes of a spectator.
I wonder if it is the glass screen of the TV that is keeping me from connecting with my younger self, or have I become disconnected from the unapologetic confidence that encapsulates the girl twirling on the screen.
Lucia Shorr is 18 years old; she lives in New York City. Fun Facts: Lucia was born in Taos, New Mexico before moving to NYC; she was inspired to start writing short stories after reading “Naked” by David Sedaris.