How I Lost My Voice

I’m thinking about the child I was when I moved to the suburbs. I was nearly 10. I remembered the feeling of 10 for a long time afterwards. I was able to tap into those feelings of frustration and powerlessness, sometimes without even trying. But now when I try to get back to my 10 year old voice, I struggle. When did I lose the ability to transport myself back? What caused me to stop remembering? How did I lose that connection to what’s been called my ‘inner child’? Where did I lose my child’s voice? These are tough questions that I really don’t want to delve into.

I once read the advice: write toward what you want to know using all your senses. I forget whose suggestion it was. So I will try to write towards my child's voice and tell the stories, some of them already written, in the voice of that child. Maybe by writing my way into the character who is me, I will rediscover that part of myself.

I start with the new house and put myself in it. Now what? Just start writing. Something. Anything just use all your senses. Here goes...

I’m not sure when this is. I can see us around the kitchen table. I can feel the vinyl sticking to my legs on the kitchen chair. We're having supper. Mom is standing with her apron on, back to the stove serving pork chops from the old frying pan that fell off the Eaton’s truck on the lane behind our house on Charles Street. I remember when it happened but the boys don’t. They remember nothing of our old life on Charles Street. Dad is chomping away enthusiastically on his food while Jim has just polished off his potatoes and is asking for another helping. I glare at my brothers and Dad eyes me from the other end of the table. Mom doesn’t notice and doles out seconds to Jim. There’s not much conversation just 'pass the butter' or 'I need a spoon'. Mom’s face is flushed and she cuts her meat while the rest of us scrape our plates. No one asks me about my day. No one asks me if I’m happy here. If I offer something about school, my parents listen with interest but only if it’s positive. When I complain about a teacher, Mom runs to his defence and points out all I have to be grateful for. I quickly learn to bite my tongue and keep it all inside.

1 comment:

Mary said...

This is an excellent start, Ruth. Lots of interesting detail about parental roles. It's sad that you can't easily tell them how you felt about all the changes. Somehow you are invalidated, even though you are cared for.

I wonder if it's hard to find the voice of a ten-year old because they are in transition from childhood to adulthood. One foot in one place and the other stepping forward. We start to sound more adult at ten, but retreat to childish ways when we feel threatened by adulthood.

I think I find it easier to write as a 6-year old than a 10-year old. Twelve will be harder again.