I was an unruly and wild child. My days were spent outdoors, long after the last of the sun rays have hidden behind the horizon. I couldn’t get enough: of earth, air, trees, animals. There was so much to explore and I didn’t want to waste a minute of my time indoors, shut away in a perceived cage of the brick walls around me.
Most of us have heard the story of Ophelia. Some may have read the required Hamlet in high school, some may have stumbled upon it later in life on their own accord. I was one of the latter people, having read only excerpts from Hamlet in grade ten. I did not understand much of it back then, its language being dark and confusing, like a never-ending maze. While the confusion by no means dissipated with my aging, I now have more patience to read and reread paragraphs to sink in their meaning. It was while I was reading the paragraph below that I started imagining Ophelia and her story.
One day back in 2010 Sarah Hartsig was sketching. She was going through a difficult time in her life and her inner world was a complicated tangle of light and dark, of confusion and need for clarity.
She was feeling sad and the movement of the pencil in her hand was calming her mind. Her hand kept drawing and an outline of a figure began to emerge. Just a short while later, a sweet little mouse named Pepper came to life before her.
‘Who was this little friend?’ Sarah thought. ‘Where did it come from? That was the moment. The first spark of light in my lantern that would guide me.’
While out shopping with a friend at a local thrift store, I stumbled upon a dress. Now, this is not a story of me falling in love with it at first sight or realizing it’s the one thing my life has been missing. This is a story of hidden potential.
‘What on earth are you wearing today?!’ I froze by the door of the classroom I just entered, attempting to make myself smaller and less in the spotlight as I was running late for my Russian literature class. For an eighth grader growing up in Ukraine I was tall and too curvy for a twelve year old, as puberty graced me much earlier than my female counterparts.
“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa
It was quiet, save for a hint of tiny raindrops brushing down onto the delicate cherry blossom petals as they fell to the earth. At seven am in the Quad of the University of Washington there was no one but photographers around. I counted four of us total. Who else would get up at an ungodly hour only to record the short life of these blossoms on a digital sensor in our cameras?
Today is a rather dreary day in Seattle – dark skies, an almost constant downpour of chilly droplets from the sky and the ever-present color gray. I suppose this is how Seattle got its reputation. But days like today don’t tempt me into depressing gloom. Days like today are my most productive days.
As a woman I am expected to maintain a perfect exterior. Free of imperfections, my skin must be glowing and radiant, my eyebrows perfectly tweezed, my eyelashes curled up, thick and black, to make my eyes stand out. I am to have frizz-free hair that does exactly what it is supposed to, as if willed to by magic. My nails are to be clean, trimmed and manicured. They will look nice with my small and delicate hands, which I am, of course, to have.
I was raised by a single mother, and my household was home to several more women from the immediate and extended family. There were no men. Every one of us, in our own way, were the bring-home-the-bacon gals. My definition of a woman was formed based on my hardworking mother: a strong, proud and self-sustaining woman ready to conquer the world.
Last night I had a vivid dream. I was standing in the middle of a beautiful building, circular in shape, with many large windows letting in a great amount of natural light. There seemed to be no top in sight, the cylinder that was this building never seemed to end. I quickly glanced at how to get to the top, I knew I absolutely must reach it. Something important and amazing waited for me there.