|Photo Credit (used with permission): YmirPhoto Dotca|
Photo Description: A photo of the road into Ymir and the sun over Ymir Hill
It was my birthday. I had just turned 7 or 8 years old. As my birthday fell so close to Christmas, I'd never had any luck with birthday parties, kids just didn't come. I told myself that it was because so many other Christmas activities pulled them away, but I knew in my heart that this wasn't true. I wasn't a popular kid. My weight and my discomfort around others led me to be at the butt of the jokes and the subject of bullies. So this Christmas we had decided to go sledding down Ymir hill. Ymir was a short drive away so we piled in my brother, my mother and I and headed for the hill.
We got there and there were only a few kids around, most of them playing up by the water tower. I've always been a screamer, shut up, so let out a happy scream on my first run down the hill. I got to the bottom, fell off the sled and laughed. My brother was next, braver than me, he just laughed all the way down, as we trudged up the hill ready to make our way down again. The kids at the tower had disappeared. On the next run down, they were back, sleds and toboggans being dragged behind them. Now there was a bunch of us, I was please to not be the only screamer, going down the hill.
It got out that it was my birthday that day. The kids all wished me a good day and we continued trudging up and racing down the hill. It was a really fun day, a really fun party. It wasn't one that was planned and it wasn't one with people I knew. Just a welcoming bunch of kids, willing to join in a celebration that they were unaware of.
I often think of that birthday as one of the happiest memories from my childhood. It is one where I learned something that would serve me well one day. Community happens. Inclusion happens. Welcome happens. It isn't created or manufactured or planned. It just happens. There is a magic to it. It is made when a drop of welcome is added to a drop of opportunity are added to a cup full of shared interest.
This party had nothing to do with the disability that I would one day have.
This party had nothing to do with the sexuality that I would one day proclaim.
This party had nothing to do with the difference I felt.
These kids didn't come as an act of charity.
They came to get and in the getting give.
That night when we got home and were ready to cut the cake, I felt less alone in the world. I got a sense of the world that I would one day live in.
That's all I needed to survive.