I was born Victoria Lee Stewart in January
In a small retirement community a full week into the new year
Yet I was the New Years baby
I once asked my mother who I was named for
A queen perhaps, or a far away city?
"No" she said, "I just thought the name is beautiful- you are beautiful"
But she didn't call me that beautiful name, instead she called me Vickie
She spelled it in a different way then most
with the "ie" on the end instead of a "y"
Nobody ever got it right
It rhymed with all manner of unpleasant names
Which I suffered throughout elementary school
Vickie, Dickie, Sicky, lickie, Mickie, picky... icky
Finally I had the chance to re-brand myself
A move to a new state when I was nearly 12
Now I was Tori...
No longer gangly, and awkward, with buck teeth, and stick out ears
I was tan and tall and pretty and I was "The girl from California"
And Tori didn't rhyme with anything gross
The move was no good for a girl with no self-esteem however, instead it proved to be a disaster that set me on a path of self loathing and self destruction
Suddenly attractive to boys and with out compass or sanctuary
I became victim to the whim and desires of others
Mississippi holds no fond memories for me
I cringe at the thought of meeting someone who knew me then
Leaving Mississippi behind did not remove its shadow from my heart
The shadow cold and lonely followed me thru Arkansas, Okinawa, New York, Connecticut and back to Arkansas again and Wisconsin and Florida and Arkansas again, and again to Arkansas
The dark times were dismal with this shadow overhead, no light could penetrate. Anguished nights spent screaming into the dark,
Cicadas roar covered the sound with no purchase found in those days
Years passed until I finally made another move
To a new place inside myself.
I decided to grow into me
I know it sounds too simple but that was just what I did
I left behind the old shadow, the shame and solitude
I changed from the inside out, my food, my outlook
I nourished myself in ways that have nothing to do with my address
I am Victoria now and forever
I am beautiful and free