St. Augustin School
Des Moines, IA
Dear P. L. Travers,
A seven-year old is bored one rainy weekend morning. It is late November and the leaves outside her window have all fallen, drowned in puddles of water and mud. She is bored and miserable. She could go play and have some fun, but she chooses to be alone instead.
I was that little girl. I didn't know I was living one day just to get to the next. I didn't realize what potential each day held for me, or how I could make the world special. Life seemed so mundane. I mindlessly fingered my mother's old books until I came across one whose binding was torn- Mary Poppins, and my world was turned upside down.
I sat in the green armchair by the window, reading one yellowed page after another, excited to get to the next part. Mary Poppins was amazing to a little first grader in Spearfish, South Dakota. She was a no-nonsense kind of woman, a strong, confident, and self-assured person who didn't wait for the world to approve of her, but just moved forward on her own. She became my best friend, and I wanted to be like her in every single way.
With every decision I faced, I asked myself, "What would Mary Poppins do? Would she approve?" Almost always the answer was "No, probably not." Like the cow that didn't want to jump over the moon, but knew that she had to in order to stop dancing, I had no choice but to try.
Ironically, I thought that I was working to get on top of the world, when in reality, I was actually working to find myself. The very thing that I was trying to become, I actually was, and I didn't know it. I didn't let myself believe it before, and it took a woman like Mary Poppins to bring me to realize that it's okay to be who I am. I am in the world to make a difference, and I see it in her now as much as I did then.
Yet, now as I'm getting older, I am losing some of the lessons Mary taught me. I'm finding that it's not as easy to be imaginative and confident about who I am as it was when I was younger. In middle school, you're afraid to be yourself in fear that everyone else is better, and that you will be brushed aside. I've been pushed into believing that I have to be the person my friends like, not the person that I want to be. Even if I don't like the latest song or movie star, I say I do and listen to it anyway just to fit the crowd. I have made getting friends my top priority, pushing my hopes and dreams to be second place. It's as if my personality is crawling back into its shell, and I'm wearing a hard outer layer of somebody else. But that's not who I am. I'm a girl with that knows that she doesn't have to change, a girl with dreams, a girl like Mary Poppins.
One sunny afternoon, a twelve-year old is sitting at her window watching the snow melt and disappear into vapor. She glances at her bookshelves, overflowing with books for any time and place. She picks through them with her eyes, one paper cover at a time. Suddenly, she comes across a fabric covered book with torn binding -Mary Poppins. She sits back down and reads the yellowed pages, one after another, slowly recollecting her memories. She realizes again the person she is, and that she doesn't have to be afraid to let herself become that girl. Once again, my life is changed, all because of Mary Poppins.