I was born into a tribe of mischief. Of dirt bikes and tree-climbing and “anything you can do, I can do better.” Big, strong hands that swung me in circles and held my feet to the ceiling while I squealed with a mix of laughter and terror. A tribe of practical jokes and impractical dreams. Stories before bed and Jimi Hendrix in the car and echoes of “Don’t tell your mother. Or your grandmother, for that matter.” Three little girls who danced with their words and spoke laughter like their own secret language. One even littler boy, toddling along with a grin from ear-to-ear, just waiting to blossom into the hands that would protect his sisters. Or maybe just protect things from them. He never could tell.
I grew up in a tribe of warriors. Tiny faces and hands covered with a thin layer of chalk – war paint smudged along their cheeks as they forged on against an invisible opponent. Teenage pixies with the mental toughness of those twice their age, suiting up for battle in sparkling lycra and ponytails as high as their twisting, spinning forms simply floating over 4 inches of wood and metal. A tribe of defiance, of pointed toes and straight legs and “oh really? Just watch me.” Climbing on rooftops for a chance to be even closer to the clouds than their tiny legs could launch them, driving together for hours into the night just to see how far they could fly with invisible wings. When one broke, the rest stood to carry them. When one soared, the rest called up words of encouragement – “Keep going, you aren’t done yet. Push on. We’re here.” Little girls who were anything but, giggling and crying and holding hands as they dared the impossible to catch up with them. It very rarely did.
I am growing, now, into a tribe of runners. Of dreamers cast out into the big, wide world and forced to sprint to keep up with the dreams that propelled them there in the first place. A tribe of ramen noodles and cheap furniture, bright lights and full inboxes, conference lines and “Can I leave word?” Nomads who call the farthest reaches home, whispering in hushed, comforting tones to their parents on other coasts that yes, everything’s going to be fine – I told you, I’ve got my savings. All the while, of course, throwing back cheap vodka at happy hour and looking three steps ahead from the ledge they balance on. A tribe of ambition constantly staring at those nine white letters, shining out of the side of the hills as they go running by, wondering why they can’t slow down, but knowing they wouldn’t even if they could. They would never have it any other way.
These are my people. Names and faces, picked from the stories of my life like cotton and deposited in a basin I could stare into for hours on end, letting myself be pulled into memories of heart-crushing love and undying support, peppered with incredible moments and unforgettable punchlines.
They say it takes a village, but I will forever be grateful for the villages that have taken me.
Part of The Scintilla Project: a fortnight of storytelling. Check out more info on the project here.
Day 7: List the tribes you belong to: cultural, personal, literary, you get the drift. Talk about the experience of being in your element with your tribes.