I am 6 years old. I am 8, I am 11; I am 13. It doesn’t matter what I am, only who I am: somebody’s girl. I’ve always been somebody’s girl, and I’m hearing this again, tonight, as I am 17. Christmas has been over for three days now, but Kyle has just pulled a little red box out of his pocket and he’s opening it for me. My jaw hits the floor as he opens it to reveal a gold heart on a chain. There is a single rose in the center of the heart, and this top piece slides away to uncover a medallion of the Virgin Mary. I recognize this necklace right away: it is identical to the one that my 16-year old grandfather bought for my grandmother, 65 years before. As he clasps it around my neck, I can’t stop thinking I’m yours, I’m your girl.
I am 13 years old. I’m walking down the hallway with Gramma to visit Poppy. We walk into his room: small with ugly curtains and high enough up that I can hardly see the snow on the ground below. This is good, I think; Poppy hates the cold, and I would hate for him to be any more miserable in this place. He asks for the temperature and I can’t help but smile: he’s going to love the inside/outside thermometer I bought him for Christmas. It’s December 15, 2007—only ten days left. Gramma and I fill him in on how we spent our weekend together, but I immediately regret bringing it up. I know he’s disappointed that he couldn’t spend the day with us, like he’s done every weekend since I was 5. I was his little girl then. I still am, but minus the little, because I’m old enough to be a teenager and to talk to boys if I want to. But he doesn’t think so. Every time we go out to eat, he tells everyone that asks that I’m his little girl. Even when they don’t ask he still does! But I’ve been talking to a boy already; Poppy would scare him away if he found out. That’s what I’m thinking about now, as he’s telling me again that I’m his little girl. It’s different this time though, because he looks sadder. I think it’s because he hates the cold, and the hospital bed, and because he wanted to spend the day with me. So I don’t remind him that I’m a big girl this time. My dad is coming to pick me up and take me home—as I’m thinking about when he’ll get here, he walks in through the door. It’s time to go. I’m still a big girl—I’m tough. I play football with the older boys at school and they say I throw real good. That’s why I’m tough. But I didn’t want to leave Poppy at the hospital because he seems lonely. I wish he’d been with Gramma and me in Cresson instead of in this stupid bed with the stupid curtains and the stupid view. I want to cry—but I’m not a little girl anymore. Dad and I are walking toward the door when he tells me that I’m his little girl one more time. I can feel my throat getting sore, like it did when I had strep last year. I know it’s coming: I’m going to cry. How will he ever see me as a big girl if I cry like a little one? Do you remember our Myrtle Beach trips, looking out at the ocean from the balcony upstairs? Only 6 more months and we’ll be back at the beach… I know he’s still talking but I’ve zoned out. He isn’t helping the feeling I have like I’m gonna cry, when he’s talking all about the things that make him happy in a place that makes him sad. I kiss him on the cheek and he tells me that he loves me. I’m his little girl. He’ll see me soon.
I’m 17 years old. I just received a gift that means more to me than anything I’ve ever received before. It’s a part of my grandfather, one of many memories, and I carry it with me wherever I go. I know I’ll always be somebody’s girl—love has given me this perspective—I was his little girl, I’m now Kyle’s girl, I’ve always been my parent’s first baby girl, and I don’t mind that my identity is defined by those who depend on me to be their “somebody girl.”
-Spring 2012/Senior Year of High School