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A small world

Jess Shaffer | Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Last weekend I took a walk down memory lane. No, I did not try to garner a comprehensive story of collegiate escapade from the wee hours of Saturday morning. Instead I went even further back to recesses my dim memories. I went back to elementary school. 
That is right. At 20-years-old, I made my very first return to elementary and middle school. For me, this was all one place. And that means that a single building (and the little ones it held during school hours) got to see me progress through my adorable, precocious younger years to my shamefully awkward and embarrassing tween years. I should make a small confession to give my return to primary school a better personal context. My awkward years far (far far) outnumbered and outweighed my “cute little kid” years. 
If estimated, about 75 percent of my primary school experience was spent in glasses, headgear, braces and a plaid jumper. On top of this, I had minimal to no athletic ability and generally a saucy attitude (that proudly persists today).  And then there was always the stereotypical acne and general disregard for my appearance typical of a tomboy. At best, I was, shall we say, not king of the kids, and at worst a huge (maybe lovable) loser. 
Needless to say, my subconscious has diligently worked to suppress many a childhood memory. Orthodontia, contacts, a good sense of humor and just growing up took care of the rest. But last weekend, when I flew out to see my ankle-biter cousins’ basketball tournaments, my formative years came rushing back. 
I revisited days of my childhood I hadn’t remembered in a long time. And, better yet, got to see little kids in the same place I was 10 years ago, except that they were on basketball courts, which I certainly avoided at that same age. All confidence and swagger in the miniature, these kids played ball as if they were inside an NBA Jam game. Or like they thought they were. With gangly limbs and lacking control of their bodies, kids would randomly fall out of plays, rolling off the court after tripping over themselves. Then again sweet 3-pointers and layups were all the more impressive because of the constant falling and flailing. In a word, it was brilliant. And the tournament snack bar, packed with all of my childhood favorite candies, wasn’t bad either. 
In revisiting distant memories of mini-me, and seeing the new 10-year-old models, I realized that not much has changed. I’m still stumbling around, but now in the world of internships and academia. And I still constantly comically trip over myself by not knowing my own powers or limitations. But then again, I get to do those things in heels now so sometimes when I fall there is a little more ankle twisting. And I am still undeniably quite a nerd though less of a tomboy. All in all, we grow into ourselves as we outgrow the shrunken geography of our childhoods. And when new me met old me, I realized that it is indeed a small world after all.