Give us a brief chapter of your autobiography.
Rebecca S. F. was born to the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. Her mother, a musician, thought the music would calm her newborn. She was wrong. For the first five years of her life, Rebecca was a terror. Granted, a cute, curly-topped terror with huge brown eyes and a dimple, but a terror nonetheless. She was well known to the staff at the hospital where she was born, due to her many trips to receive stitches, casts, and other life-saving measures. There was the time she climbed up a bookcase only to have it fall and pin her to the floor, and the time she fell through the neighbor’s porch stairs and landed in their garbage can and, of course, the time she broke her arm chasing a boy who called her brother a name.
When she was three, her father’s job transferred him to Germany. Over the waters Rebecca and her family went. German kindergarten was a horse of a different color, primarily because of the language. It was frustrating when boys didn’t understand commands such as “Stop throwing sand on the slide!” and only responded “Wass? Wass?” But there were cultural differences, too. For example, almost everyone in kindergarten got a nasenbluten - a nosebleed. Try as she might, Rebecca couldn’t make her nose bleed and therefore considered herself something of an outcast.
She learned many critical lessons in Germany despite her healthy olfactory system. Some were common sense: a light bulb that’s on actually burns and one shouldn’t touch it. It’s not easy to teach someone a different language, and one shouldn’t be angry with one’s best friend for not being able to remember that apfel is “apple” in English. The most valuable lesson, however, concerned manners.
As noted, Rebecca was a terror. The sort of terror they make movies about, who drives away babysitters in droves until Julie Andrews slides up the banister and sets everything straight. Rebecca had her own personal Julie Andrews, minus the chalk pictures. Her name was Ulrika and she was a bona fide Swedish au pair. She wasn’t like Rebecca’s previous nannies, whom Rebecca could tie around her little finger. Ulrika put her foot down and although the lesson was hard at first, Rebecca became used to the idea that not everyone was put on this earth for her own amusement.
By the time her family moved back to the United States with a baby brother in tow, five-year-old Rebecca was quite different from the girl she’d been. For one, she spoke German fluently. And, she was beginning to enter a new stage in her life: her Shy Stage. No longer was she stubborn Princeska Balinka (Princess Dimple, as a woman in Czechoslovakia called her). She was now bespectacled Becca Bug, so dubbed because of her sudden devotion to the written word. She maintained this devotion with an almost religious passion, neglecting the social circles of the lunchroom for the social circles of Little Women. When her worried teacher forbade her from reading during recess, she snuck books outside.
Middle school brought a number of changes. Rebecca was now conscious of the social scene, painfully so. She went through an embarrassing-to-recall period of trying to “fit in.” Thankfully, her time of too much make-up and misguided flirtations was short, and she moved on to bigger and better things. Namely, becoming her own person.
Once in high school, Rebecca realized the delightful anonymity that comes with being a freshman. She joined the marching band and German club, both of which helped her establish a small circle of friends. But in the spring of 2003, she made the difficult transfer to a new high school to take advantage of its exceptional fine arts and humanities departments.
Starting a new school as a sophomore was hard. Re-becca participated in the nationally recognized marching band, an experience of a lifetime. Her first semester was eaten up by practices, football games and competition, and though she did manage to squeeze in a few club meetings and the occasional social outing, her real time constraint was her church. Rebecca’s active participation in choir, drama, dance, childcare and worship had always been a source of strength and comfort, but with no time to be strengthened or comforted, her sophomore year was less than ideal.
Therefore, she made another difficult decision and dropped band, a blessing in disguise. Now she was free to attend the Sewanee Young Writers Conference that summer instead of band camp, which refocused her attention to her current passion: creative writing.
Now, as a senior, Rebecca couldn’t be happier and is taking AP Literature, an independent study in creative writing, German and a class where she helps children who have difficulty reading. She has a fantastic group of friends and time to be active in her church and pursue her interests. Best of all, she’s in the process of determining the next chapter of her life: College.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.
This piece won the May 2006 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.