Deep Rants, Soul-Searching Rants

The Lonely Rose: The Birth of A Writer

It was my second grade year. Banyan Elementary School. I still live close by and it never fails- the tiny little blondish see-through hairs on my arms stand up every time I pass the small school yard that once seemed to stretch further than the Pacific Ocean. And every single time, I think of that one year when something inside of little me…changed.

I was 7 years old going on 70. Not only because I had such an old soul and had already witnessed the unthinkable, but because I was literally missing all of my top front teeth after having had a head-on collision with a slippery tile floor. And also because my egg donor dressed me in tacky ass dresses that deserved to be hung and burned on crosses WHAT?! Who said that?!This post has been hacked! Cyber hooligans!

I remember this one particular day- fresh and crisp in my mind like a warm Sunday morning breakfast. Just kidding I don’t eat breakfast and especially not on a Sunday morning. Where I come from, Sundays are for sleeping in and yelling at the kids from bed while they destroy the house. I remember the smell of Crayola crayons in the air (they smelled like wax…not bacon and eggs, by the way) and I remember holding Purple Mountain’s Majesty in my tiny right hand. It was my favorite color in the whole gigantic cardboard box. It was like a purple but not really and it had a tinge of blue but not really and there was subtle hint of grayish concealed in the undertones but not really. Ya know?

Maybe subconsciously I loved this sort-of but not really purple-blue-gray color because it was so complicated. Like me. Like my life already was. Maybe I loved it because it was so different. Like me. But I think I just liked how it was the color with the name that stood out the most. It had the longest name to remember and I always wanted to sound super smart. How many kids have ever answered “Purple Mountain’s Majesty” when asked what their favorite color is? I’ll wait.

I was sitting next to Lily when Mrs. Corvette asked us for our attention. That was easy. She was a heavyset, tall, elderly woman with a gold capped front tooth, a flowery-nightgown sweet-grandmaish dress code, and a classic afro gently hugging her scalp. I am now convinced this was a wig which would explain why her hair moved so much whenever she spoke to us. There was a really gospel thing about her body language and how she carried herself like “mmm-hmmm lawd mercy so help me I’ma TEACH these chill’ren oh YES lawd I’ma TEACHHH these chil’ren!!” It was Like she was preaching to a bouncing, shaking crowd of shady people being possessed by the Holy Ghost ok I’ll stop.

I placed PMM (I don’t care about sounding smart anymore. So that was me abbreviating my favorite color but now I wanna kind rap it to the beat of who down with O-P-P P-M-M? Yea you know meeee themmm!) back on my desk as she announced a creative assignment that planted a seed in my soul. A seed that would change the rest of my human life. A seed that would someday, save my life. A seed that would flourish into a jungle of endless possibilities…like rapping about colors in the middle of what was meant to be a deep mini-memoir. Save me. SAVE ME!

THE ASSIGNMENT THAT CHANGED MY LIFE:

Fold a stack of neon Xerox paper in half and staple it together along the edges to create…a book! Now, write your very own story. About anything.

[Insert 7 year old toothless smile followed by mental fireworks and the song “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey playing in the background.]

I’ll never forget it. That moment. I think I felt… overwhelmed by a sense of freedom. Something I don’t think I’d felt or understood before. When you’re 7, an older sister, and worried about things you really shouldn’t have to worry about ever and life at home is a complete nightmare- the last thing you feel is freedom of any kind.

We titled our story: The Lonely Rose

Written and Illustrated by Elizabeth Gonzalez and Lily (whose full name I obviously won’t disclose but who will forever have a special little place in my heart for sharing this memory with me).

The details are a little blurry but it was the story of a beautiful little rose named Rose, who was born in a garden full of different flowers. I’d like to remember them as Daisies because I used to have a thing about drawing Daisies.

From the very beginning, Rose knew she was…different. This made her feel very lonely. Unwanted. Ugly. Left out. And so sad. So sad, that all she could do was cry and cry. Those damn Daisies avoided her like the plague. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t just look and be like everyone else.

Until one day, along came a beautiful bird with feathers painted in every color of the rainbow. She was the strangest bird Rose had ever seen! The beautiful strange rainbow-feathered bird had noticed Rose crying alone in a field while all the Daisies played and laughed and paid no mind to her, and so she decided to stop and chat.

Rose told her all about how sad she was and why- and in exchange, the rainbow-feathered bird told her a story about an odd bird who felt the same way but that she quickly realized that being different meant she was more beautiful than the rest!

Buried in this seemingly simple little story made of neon Xerox paper were themes too complex for just any 7 year old to comprehend: acceptance, self-love, confidence, leadership, friendship, loneliness, pain, shame- the good, the bad, the ugly.

It was kind of a big deal you know? Well, at least I thought so, because by the time we turned in our story I was literally asking Mrs. Corvette about the publishing process because like Pinocchio, I wanted my story to be a real book!!

And thanks to her encouragement and positive soul, I took my little wanna-be-writer complex straight home to the Yellow Pages and took my shot at calling random “children’s books publishers” and not asking, but demanding to have The Lonely Rose published into a “real book”. I meant BUSINESS. I did this every single day for a week, and kept being hung up on and laughed at. And I kept telling Mrs. Corvette and she continued to tell me to chase my dreams no matter what.

Despite feeling a bit heart-broken about how NOT serious I was being taken by these dickhead so-called publishers (I was so innocent!) I never stopped writing after this.

Oh little Ely. You brave little soul. Fearless, I’m telling you. We could all learn something from my 7 year old self. I may as well have been pulling up to the second grade on a Harley with ripped up sleeves and teardrops tatted beneath the corners of sparkling-with-hop eyes.

Needless to say, every teacher in Banyan Elementary who heard about my adult AF moves called me “Miss Journalism”. 26 years later, writing is literally my savior.

Writing is what kept me from being suicidal. Writing is what helped me get through the darkest of starless, moonless, hopeless nights. Writing is what has continued to help me unravel the knots from my past that are embedded in my soul. Writing has helped mold me into the human being that I’ve become.

“The Lonely Rose” saved my life and changed things inside of me for the better. I am forever so proud of my 7-year-old self.

I only hope that I can help my kids find this kind of passion within themselves.

19 thoughts on “The Lonely Rose: The Birth of A Writer”

  1. Awww this is lovely! I’m glad that writing has become such a support for you! I keep reading that writing has helped so many other blogging friends as well, and it certainly has helped me work through some stuff too. I’ve been writing since I was a little girl too – my grade 1 and 2 classes would actually let us make books! We’d have cardboard covered in wallpaper to make the covers and tie them around the pages so they’d have a real cover. I still have one or two of them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing!!! I wish our book would’ve been so REALISTIC!! Love it!!! Yes writing has and continues to save me over and over. Today is a bad day- but writing will again get me through it. It’s refreshing to hear that it helps others as well. It’s incredibly powerful. Have a beautiful day lovely lady.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this. I sort of had a similar experience, but in 5th grade. (My 2nd grade teacher hated me. I maintain it was because I was smarter than she was). Ms. Barlow, my 5th grade teacher, encouraged me to write and I did. I wound up filling a wide-ruled notebook with a fantasy story that I called “The Prince,” which used people from my class as characters. She continued to encourage me by trying to get my story published in a book that collected short stories written by child writers. Nothing ever came of it, but my love of writing can be traced back to that point. I’ve never shared that story on my own blog… probably something I should do at some point. Because that’s definitely the root of my love of writing. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is SO awesome! We have a similar story! It’s incredible what a GENUINELY good teacher can do to a child’s life. So powerful! You should definitely share your story! I wanna hear more about this Prince!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Goodness this is so sweet! Do you think you have a copy of your first literary work…it might be hidden in a box at the school somewhere…

    Keep writing Ely! We all love you for it. ❤

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  4. First off, I am down with PMM.

    Second, you were probably one of the last 7-year-olds in the history of the world to call up publishers! 7-year-olds these days don’t even know how to pick their nose properly, let alone call someone to pitch their story haha

    When I was in grade 2, I wrote a story about my grandfather losing his wedding ring and finding it in a bucket. I cut the pages of the book into the shape of a bucket. It was brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHAHA! “Yea you know themmm!” I’m SUCH A NERD LOL!!

      You’re right about that, kids these days are just somewhere else all the time floating around in lala -land. (I just had a huge argument with my spell check. It kept insisting there is no LALA land and kept changing it to things like MALA-land and LAYLA-land. Like first of all, spellcheck… where the HELL are MALA AND LAYLA LAND?! Please direct me..) anyways. Kids are lost. Lol.

      And Omg that story IS genius and you make it look like a bucket that’s so cool. I plan on getting a Rose tattooed that says “tell your story” and now I was like OMG lmfao can you imagine a bucket tattoo?! Lol people would have so many questions. Ok I’m rambling. Hugs!

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  5. I wish there were more teachers like Mrs. Corvette who encouraged little kids to follow their dreams, instead of telling them to be realistic. I think the world would probably be a happier place to live.

    Also, I love that you called publishers to get your story made when you were seven! That’s adorable and badass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Adie. We need more teachers like her for sure!
      You know what bothers me now as an adult? I remember that day clearly. I snuck around looking for the YELLOW PAGES and I hid in my room with the phone on my own to do this. I never even thought to ask my mom for help
      Or to even mention it to her. She would’ve told me it wasn’t gonna happen, to be realistic… it makes me sad NOW, though in that moment it didn’t matter to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This was so beautiful… I am all choked up now. I am hurting for 7 year old Ely & I truly admire your strength & perserverance. ♡ Writing has saved me many times, too & I’m happy to hear it has saved you!! You definitely have talent!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much girl, it means a lot to me. Writing is our super hero! If we stop, it will lose its human-saving powers!!! We are the fuel to the art! Have a lovely week!

      Like

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