For the past few days, I’ve recalled a certain memory of fishing on the banks of the Potomac River. In this memory, I’m putting bright yellow cheese on a hook, casting my line from the end of the dock in my backyard, and reeling in yellow perch after yellow perch. I’m also catching silver minnows in my net.
I’m alone, and I’m so happy.
I’m also twelve years old. This is supremely uncool behavior. All my other friends are already going to parties, drinking alcohol, kissing boys, and sneaking out of their houses. Children grew up fast in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia.
I remember this as the year no girl wanted to go in the canoe or fish anymore. But the pull to the river was stronger than the pull towards popularity. Something about the fishing pole and the bait mattered more than the insults, the strange looks, or the rejection.
I suppose when you love something and it makes you truly happy, it sets you above public opinion. I hope my daughters move in the direction of what their hearts love and what brings them joy–even when (especially when) insults, strange looks, or rejection results.
Who cares? There’s a bright yellow perch waiting to reel in. I cast the line and dangle my bare feet into the water. A tiny turtle swims in the shade of the dock, and on the bank, the red fox will soon come down his hunting trail.