Brave Histories

14 Jan

I don’t remember how many time I read Number The Stars when I was nine, but it was a lot. Other books I read multiple times: the biographies of Sojourner Truth, Phyllis Wheatley, and Harriet Tubman; I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl; Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry; and One Eye Laughing, The Other Eye Weeping: The Diary of Julie Weiss. You get my point. I loved any book that was about a girl who was a slave or a victim of the Holocaust. I was fascinated with their stories because I didn’t understand why people were treated that way—how people could survive being treated that way. I read these girls’ stories, and I cried because I wanted to be there to help them. I wanted to be the one who hid a Jewish girl under the floorboards of my bedroom. I wanted my house to be a station in the Underground Railroad. I wanted to do what was right; I wanted to be brave.

But it’s hard to be brave when you’re skinny and lanky with big bangs and even bigger glasses. It’s hard to be brave when you’re homeschooled, and you feel inferior to all other kids ‘cause they go to public school and have recess and snow days, and you don’t. It’s hard to be brave when all the girls at the ice rink laugh at you because you ate a peach off the ground (Even though you washed it off in the drinking fountain first. Duh.) And it’s hard to be brave when you’re growing mosquitoes in your house for a science fair project. In high school. My hypothetical conversation with a boy when I was fourteen- Oh yea, sure I’d love for you to come over,  just don’t open the door to our guest bedroom or else THOUSANDS OF MOSQUITOE LARVAE MAY FALL ON THE FLOOR AND DIE.

I’m trying to become braver as I get older.

Example 1: Writing on this blog.

Example 2: I don’t follow recipes when I cook.

Example 3: I fell in love. Completely.

I have never survived a concentration camp or worked in a cotton field, and I never will. But I’ve had my heart broken; I’ve lost friends and relatives; I’ve picked up the pieces of myself and tried to assemble some sort of human that lives and breathes and loves well. I think we’re all survivors of something. I think it’s important to remember that when dealing with others. People’s physical bodies may be strong enough to survive wars and disease, but they are still fragile. That being said, I know we’re all stronger than we think we are—both men and women; we are brave in our own ways.


8 Responses to “Brave Histories”

  1. leeraloo January 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    “It’s hard to be brave when all the girls at the ice rink laugh at you because you ate a peach off the ground (Even though you washed it off in the drinking fountain first. Duh.)”

    This made me almost spit my drink onto my computer screen.

    This is good. It’s weird the little things we can latch onto to make ourselves feel brave or grown up. Like, I felt like an adult when I learned how to do my own laundry.

    And I totally prefer to cook without a recipe.

  2. renee January 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Abby, you have one of the sweetest personalities of any girl I’ve ever met. Those ‘pack’ girls are all the same, all afraid to laugh out loud or be themselves. That’s why it’s so refreshing when you do, despite of them. There is no knowledge that isn’t power. Our differences are our strengths. Cherish those big glasses that taught you to see the peach beyond the dirt.

  3. Layne Ransom January 15, 2011 at 12:06 am #



  4. Carol Ricciardi January 15, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Keep it up…the reading, the writing, the cooking without recipes! And mostly, the picking up the pieces of yourself that assemble the Fantastic and Beautiful woman you’ve become! Cannot wait to see you in June. This year seems to be adding up to one big ‘Longing’ in our hearts for what is to come. Waiting for Mykerson and Leander, waiting to see all of you whom we’ve missed for too many years, waiting for moments of celebration as you walk down the aisle…ahhhhh – LOVE you and can’t wait to meet TJ!

    • amhines January 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Thank you Aunt Carol! I can’t wait to see all of your lovely faces as well.

  5. Lindsay January 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    Sometimes I think the bravest thing we do each day is not let labels define us… not to be that “homeschooled girl” or “weird” if we don’t want to be, but just be who we choose to be for ourselves– I take this, but not that. And to reserve the right to change. To know how much bigger and braver we are than our past.

  6. Lindsay January 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    My other comment is that it’s very, very true that falling in love and staying in love takes bravery. The person who you allow into your heart close enough to make you feel exhilarated beyond words you also allow close enough to totally devastate you. This is not a caution or a warning, just what I’ve found to be true of true love.

    • amhines January 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      Linds, I agree. We shouldn’t be defined by labels or stereotypes or our past. But we do need to remember that those things have shaped who we are today, no matter if we like them or not. I think the only way to move forward and fully embrace who you are, is to acknowledge and accept your past. That doesn’t mean you can’t change or eventually forget about things that have happened; it’s just a way to move on. Like you said, we need “To know how much bigger and braver we are than our past.”

      You are one of the few people I know that has a firm grasp on what it means to truly love. I can’t wait for you to bring home those sweet boys; they are blessed to have you for a mother.

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