A letter to the little things that played a huge role in the girl I am today

Ellie McDowell

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Beka McDowell

From the first day of kindergarten to the first day of senior year, I owe a lot of who I am to the things that made my life what it was.

My earliest memories consist of a few objects that have made me into the person I am today. My earliest memories are full of laughter and tears, and a few things have been there for me through all of my milestones.

To my little stuffed cow, for the nights you got me through. For as long as I can remember, there wasn’t a night spent without you by my side. You fought away nightmares nightly for years. You were given the name “Boo-Boo” because I couldn’t say “Moo,” and it just stuck. You’ve lived many lives and have been replaced countless times. I’m pretty sure there was a version of you left at every hotel I slept at between the ages of four and six.

To my little green blanket, for the tears you’ve dried. Much like Boo-Boo, there hasn’t been a night as far back as my memories go that I didn’t use you as a pillow. You have wiped away the tears of numerous meltdowns. You have been run through the washer daily during the weeks that I was sick. You have been used to clean off nail polish, and there is still a small pink stain to prove that.

Looking back at pictures, though, my mind deceives me. I remember you being significantly brighter and happier back then.

To the big red door that I ran through for years. You, my friend, are also part of my earliest memories. Looking back at pictures, though, my mind deceives me. I remember you being significantly brighter and happier back then. For years I slammed you every time I ran into the house. Eventually, every time you were opened we could hear a little “beep beep” from the alarm system that we had set up after the break-in. There were countless nights my dad carried me past you from the car, most of them I was only pretending to sleep.

To the handprint on the wall of my preschool, for marking my first milestone. You marked the first time I ever graduated. I looked forward to making my handprints from the moment I started preschool, and the grin on my face the day I got the chance says it all. Now it’s almost time for me to graduate again, and those handprints will be replaced in my memory by a painted brick.

To my blue tongue and teeth for punctuating every summer for years. The sweet taste of a slushie is nearly every memory I have from Labor Day for years. The staining of my mouth is many of my early Cran Hill pictures. I spent days running around with a matching blue mouth to my best friends.

To the pink soccer ball the size of my head, thank you for teaching me what it means to be on a team. I wasn’t the best at soccer, but that was my first experience as a member of a sports team. That pink soccer ball is only a vague memory, but nonetheless, it created who I am. It taught me what it means to depend on others and to be there to kick a ball away from the goalie.

To the blue and pink tutu, thank you for letting me be a princess. I did ballet for all of two years, but I have clear memories of dancing across a stage in a pink and blue tutu. I felt like a princess. In the pictures I have seen of myself from that period, I look like a princess. I don’t know what changed since then, but ballet would absolutely never be on my to-do list anymore. The little girl I was back then adored it.

To my owl beanie, for accompanying me in nearly every picture from winter to spring of 2015. I posted a picture of myself from my trip to Washington D.C. in which that beanie was the co-subject of the picture, and my friend said “I clearly remember that hat.” As I scrolled through my mom’s Facebook, I saw countless pictures of myself in that hat, all of them dated early 2015. That hat went with me on some of my favorite trips, whether that was just down the street to go sledding with my friends or a trip to the country’s capitol where I found my love for history. Thank you, owl beanie, for being there with me.

And finally, to the green and white uniform that has made my last four years what they are, thank you. Thank you for putting up with the cringy freshman I was. Thank you for enduring numerous sweaty football games. Thank you for enduring even more mental breakdowns as I frantically searched for my shoes or my black socks. Thank you for sticking with me for four years. And most of all, thank you for having my back for my final season—the season I finally fulfilled my dream of being drum major. Thank you, marching uniform, for giving me a place.