The Story of Me Emma Olsen

Vignette 1: What's In a Name

My name is Emma, a common, simple name. I would like to say that my parents named me this for a special reason, or that I have a deep emotional connection to it. It would even be interesting if I had a family member that shared my name. But I don’t. The way that my mother tells it, I was named Emma simply because she liked the name and didn’t want to offend either of my grandmothers by naming me after one of them and not the other. However, my name means more to me than trying to stay neutral in family politics. The true meaning of my name has more depth than the way I received it.

You can take the name Emma a lot of different ways. Translated into English, it means “one” or “universal”. It’s the most common name in the United States right now, so being named Emma can mean that you are ordinary. Universal, ordinary...same thing. But I don’t want to be ordinary. I don't want people to think of me as just another bland face in the ever changing sea of people. I want to be different, I want people to remember me, and not to confuse me with someone else because we have the same name or because my name is so common.

In some translations, Emma means “healer of the universe”. That sounds like a big responsibility to me, but it definitely makes my name more interesting. I strive to be more of a healer. I want to be the person who helps make situations better, who adds positivity to her negative realities. The person who carries their own sun with them, shining a light on all they do. I have to fight my pessimistic nature to become more of an optimist every day.

However, the meanings or possible meanings of my name are not what defines who I am. Even though I strive to be more of a healer, and even though I don’t want to just be ordinary...I must accept myself first for who I am, not who I would like to be. I am imperfect, and sometimes I am negative, and I am nowhere near where I need to be. But I am unique, and I am different, because I am me. I am Emma. And Emma is enough.

Vignette 2: Leaving Behind a Life

I used to live in a house on Kiefer Ridge Court. It was deep in the suburbs of Saint Louis, Missouri, on a quiet cul de sac, in a neighborhood that was always too hot.

My house was white with brick siding. It had black shutters and big leafy trees in front that I used to pretend were my guardians at night. It was bright and airy inside, with big windows and butter colored walls. It was cozy, and it was happy, and most of all it felt like home.

Now I live in a different house. I still remember the day I had to leave Kiefer Ridge Court, though. It was in the thick of summer in Missouri. The air was so humid, you could feel the water on your skin. The movers had almost finished packing up, which was ironic. They had told us that we had so much stuff, we were lucky if it would all fit into the moving truck.

I was sitting in my room, in between the two windows that looked onto the street. Looking at the bare walls, and all that empty space that held so many memories. I couldn’t believe that this was it. I was leaving it behind. It still felt like I was drifting in a dream. But it was my reality, as delusional as it made me feel.

I still remembered having tea parties with my brothers where we ate chocolate chips and drank Koolaid, pretending we were rich people having tea together. There was a time that my best friend came over and we spent all night laying on the roof just outside my window, laughing and looking at the stars. I had experienced so many things sitting in that room. It was a place where I had cried many times and laughed harder than I ever had in my life.

My mom yelled for me and my brothers, because it was time to leave. She had yelled those words to us so many times before, whether it was for practice or school or church. But this time we wouldn't be coming back. Her voice cracked like a squeaking door at the end of her sentence, because we all knew that it was the last time we were leaving, ever.

And as we drove away, a tear slid down my face. The dream-like feeling of floating on a cloud of disillusionment completely went away and reality hit me like a ton of bricks. My heart shattered like glass and an avalanche of tears came out of me. My stomach dropped into a dark place and I felt like a tornado was ravaging the inside of my body. It was like I was holding on to someone’s hand and I couldn’t let go, but someone was pulling me away. The feeling was so intense because I didn't just say goodbye to a house. I said goodbye to my childhood that day. It was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had. But I know that even though I’ll never own that house again, it will always be my home.

Vignette 3: My Best Shot

I had finally done it! After weeks of practicing as hard as I could and imagining myself as the star player of my basketball team, scoring all the points and being lifted onto the shoulders of my teammates like a queen, I had scored a basket. When the ball left my hands, I closed my eyes and hoped as hard as I could that it would make that swish sound and then I would hear the victorious cheers of my friends.

It did, and I leaped for joy. I was flying. I was unstoppable. I was...wait, why were all the grown ups sad?

My team of seven year old basketball players were jumping for joy, my fantasy of being worshipped like my arch nemesis Payton was coming true, and then I saw Mom. Her face looked like it did when she was really sad like after she was watching TV and someone died. Daddy didn’t have any kind of look on his face, his mouth was just in a straight line. Coach T was shaking his head. What was going on?

And then I saw the scoreboard. The shiny orange numbers were blinking on the other team’s box. 1...2...3 points were added. Those were our three points! “No!” I said to the man in the black and white striped shirt who had been watching us play. “Those are our points!”

“So sorry, honey,” he said. “You just scored in the other team’s basket.”

My smile very quickly turned upside down, and so did my teammates’. We were all devastated. How could I have been so stupid? How did I not know that was their basket? I looked really quick at the other team. They were all whispering and laughing. Probably about me. I felt sad and droopy, like a melting snowman. I never wanted to play basketball again.

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