Death of Childhood

I am standing on the edge of a cliff and I know I have come too far to go back now. Even if I could, there is no way back and as much as I will long to turn around in times to come, I can only go forward now.

When I imagined this moment I always dreamed I’d jump forward into the open air and soar through the sky like a bird set free. But now I am here the emptiness looms below me unknown and I am shaking. I will myself to jump but my body stays where it is, here. On this familiar path lined with bright flowers that nourished me and kept me breathing and safe since the beginning of the history of my life. I stay still but one cannot stay still for long and soon the wind has caught me in powerful palms and pushes me.

The dirt scrambles beneath my feet and I am stumbling. I catch hold of the grass with my small hands but it is uprooted by my fall, I hold onto the edge of the cliff but the soil crumbles away to dust and then I am holding nothing and then I am falling. Just a child like any other, not special enough to stay. Tears sting my eyes, this isn’t how I wanted to go, I wasn’t ready but I am gone.

Not flying, falling. Angrily, wildly, painfully, wonderfully. Tumbling ungracefully through the air, with no place in this world. As I fall I grow breasts and hair in secret places. I taste the bitterness of alcohol, the powder of lipstick and the burn of cigarettes. My hair flows like a waterfall of changing colors and scars burn on my thighs, carved from sadness. And while I fall I fall in love. I see their handsome faces flash before my eyes and for a moment they are my world. I feel the warmth of their lips and the softness of their loving words and for a second my heart is so swollen it bursts and I think I will die but I keep on living and falling and loving again.

The wind is cold so I wrap my arms around myself tightly. I carry the burden of a thousand worries and it makes me fall faster. I hear the laughter of friends and the hollowness of death and the passion of my art in my mind and for a moment I forget I am even falling. I feel everything and sometimes when I feel nothing I feel the most of all. I put myself together as I fall from old pieces of myself and new pieces I collect along the way. I see many different places as I fall and I breathe them in to become a part of me too. I am imperfect. I make one hundred mistakes and then one hundred more, and through them I grow.

Out of nowhere a crow joins me. He is as black as the sea at night and has hard yellow eyes filled with bitterness. But I am lonely, so I talk to him.
“Am I beautiful?” I ask.
“Your teeth are crooked, your nose is too big, you have spots on your skin and you are not so skinny any more, how could you be beautiful?” He caws, and I can see he is right, I am not beautiful.
“Will I be okay?” I ask, with tears making trails down my cheeks.
“You are only a girl. You are clumsy and lost and you cry too easily and you are afraid. Maybe if you had a boy to look after you you would be okay, but not alone, alone you are nothing.” and I could feel he was right, that I had been naive.
“What is happening to me?” I ask, frightened.
“You’re becoming a woman. Soon you won’t be young and your art won’t be special any longer. Age will numb you, the world will lose its wonder and you will never feel this much again.”
And now I cry out into the emptiness for my mother but there is no mother to hold me, just biting wind and the feeling that I am slowly dying.
When he flies away his words make a nest in my mind and settle there.

Nothing else joins me, no more birds or airplanes or clouds, just flashes of feeling and lucidity. Sometimes music plays in the air around me and gets me high, letting me escape for a while. I wonder if I will fall forever. In some ways I begin to enjoy the fall, to channel the energy into passion. I recognise it for what it is, the beautiful chaos that is life.

Then before I know it I am not falling any longer. I am back on the earth and at my feet is a little yellow flower. I lay curled around the flower for many hours and feel the warm rush of familiarity, grateful for the stillness and the way outside of my own mind.

I know I cannot stay here but I cannot bear to leave the flower that ties me to my childhood. So I whisper an apology and very gently pick it. I press it tenderly to my chest and it is gone. I walk changed through the graveyard of ended childhoods and feel a stirring within and I know my child self has survived the fall. She is there, breathing into my thoughts. As I leave I wear both a softness that lets me love purely and a hardness born from difficult times.

I walk and I see many roads ahead of me, but I do not walk down them. Instead I make my way through a magnificent forest. Sometimes I get lost and frightened and stumble as I pave a path through the wilderness, but I see such extraordinary things that take my breath away. Things that make me believe in magic again. Sometimes people cross my path and I give them special thoughts to keep them dreaming. When it is quiet, I long to be falling. I am forever learning, endlessly transforming.

Here I meet a prince who holds my hand as we walk and from our love a little child with strawberry curls is born. I am a mama now and somehow I am both different and the same. Still a child, but with pockets filled with life lessons.

In my daughter I can see the wonder of the place left long behind me, I can see it but I cannot walk it. I can kiss the bruises on her knees from little falls, wipe the tears from her eyes and hold her close but a time will come where I will not be there to keep her from falling. So I will give her strength and when the crow comes I will tell her:

“You are infinitely beautiful. Your eyes are bright with all the magic you have seen, your skin is warm from years of embracing the sun, your mouth is soft with a thousand loving words and kisses to come. You glow with life, with the immense beauty of the thoughts in your head and the fire in your soul. This body is yours and it will take you to places you can only dream of now. Yes, my dear girl, you are beautiful, but you are so much more.”
“You are growing and as you grow the world will open itself to you. You will swim in the ocean of possibilities. Childhood is sweet, but womanhood holds power. Power to make dreams come true, to find your calling, to shine your light into the world, to create life and to find freedom.”
“You are enough, more than enough. You are already stronger and more capable than you could ever imagine. You are a little universe, brimming with potential. You are alive and you can change the world.”

And these thoughts will be her wings.

86 love notes

  1. Good evening Nirrimi,

    I discovered you and your whole world like 2 years ago and I am always watching your photos without commenting. Your texts make me feel like I’m not alone. Im really really afraid of growing up, and it lasts for 2 years now. I’m 21 and I really don’t want to deal with all the papers, the stuffs, the obligation, the musts and the responsabilities. I see your weakness because I have the same and I cry every single day for things I can’t bear seeing, listening, realizing things I don’t want to deal with. Because that’s it becomming an adult, seeing the bad things you didnt see before. I hope everything is going to be fine for you as I hope for me. And make sure you build a whole world of magic for Alba, so that she always remains her childhood as the uber ultra best moment of her life. xx from France, you’re truly loved.

    Justine

  2. When I was 14(?) I saw your photos on deviantart – equisite in their simplicity, beauty and humanity. I am 21 now, not so much different from yourself, and as you and I have grown, it has been my delight and escape to hear you tell the stories my heart wants to but cannot fathom the words for. Your gift is rare and it is truth.

    I’ve not commented or emailed before but from one young girl to another, thank you – for your selflessness and heartfullness. You have been a companion, and I am grateful to witnessed such beauty from a distance, because it gives me hope. You are so utterly, and purely human, so thank you for being you.

  3. This is my first comment ever on your site. Iv been following you for a long time and look forward to every archive and blog post from you… You have an extraordinary gift of story telling.
    Having just read your blog about haters, i had no idea people could be so cruel and actually go out their way to do so!
    Its taken me far too many years to accept that i am who i am, peoples words cannot and will not ruin me & that there’s always going to be nasty people that pass you in your journey. But each time makes you stronger though it may sting at the time, and makes you the person you are.
    I really respect you and the bravery it took to write such personal stuff that a lot of people ignore. This post may be looked over and blend in with the other comments but if you do read this Nirrimi, id like to tell you that you are an inspiration to me.
    Sending hugs from Scotland 🙂
    x

  4. You have a gift for words, and these words touch the souls of so many of us. I am moved by your thoughts, and the feelings that they invoke. Thank you for your gifts, your wisdom, and for sharing a part of yourself that many of us keep hidden out of fear. I know I speak for others when I say that I am grateful to you.

    Love,
    Megan

  5. Thank you. <3 growing up is hard, but your words have given me hope that everything will work out ok for me in the end. God bless xx

  6. I think you stories are touching and amazing, Im not a writer nor a photographer but im inspired by life and everyday things that happen in my life. you have an amazing gift of being able to express yourself through both pictures and words. I have a newly started blog, i write little things that i feel, im not very good at it but it makes me feel wonderful to be able to write what i feel and maybe one day inspire. check it out if you have a moment. http://srcibblesofthesoul.blogspot.com
    xxxxx

  7. I read this out load. It was comforting and calming to hear these words. I love how you wrote about the forest, and the magic and the words to your daughter. To create life and to find freedom.
    Reading your blog makes my soul calm, and that is exactly what I need at this very moment in my life. I feel stuck but somehow your pictures and your words sets me free.

    When I was younger, I think about 14 ( I am currently 18) I started to read your blog and got very inspired of your photography. You made me wanting to stay creative. All I strived for was to catch the beauty in a photo as you did so perfectly. I was so fascinated by the way you lived and dreamed of living a life as free as you. I remember opening your blog after a very long time and noticed you were pregnant. I was so chocked but also so happy for you. And it has been really fun to watch Alba grow up and becoming this adorable child.

    I don´t know, but the point is, you are like an old friend to me, someone I come to when my life is all stormy. Someone who has inspired me to stay creative and to keep living. Someone I have seen growing and changing.
    I guess all I wanted to stay was thank you. I think I have never made a comment on this blog, but since your blog with your words and your photos has been so important to me through my teenage years, I thought you should know.

    Greetings from Sweden

  8. I’m with Molly. I have admired your story telling for a long while. You have a beautiful gift; your words, your imagery. This post had been playing on my mind since I read it on the weekend, and I still don’t know how to say what I feel. But it has taken a little of my heart. Thank you for your courage to share this. I’m local and regret not taking your photography classes when you were close by! All the best x

  9. I always love the message in your writing. I felt like I was dancing with it. I thought of my past life during high school as I was reading this and of what I just wrote the other day. Quite similar although I wasn’t falling there; I was trapped in a deep hole with full of thorns.

  10. Nirrimi you inspire me in so many ways. I have read your blog for over 2 years now and just like Rosaria this is the first time I comment. You make me find my way towards energy, inspiration, and to myself as an artist. Whilst my work is very different from yours, I know that we feel the same wonderment for the world and the energy it holds. Your writing and photography encourages me to find myself in this world.
    Thank you!

  11. How wonderful and beautiful! I am going to save this to read to my girl when she is older. The desire to teach her that she is indeed beautiful (and so much more) is so strong. This captures a mother’s desire to spare her child such unwarranted self-talk, I love it, thank you!

  12. I feel sorry for ‘whatthehey’ (comment above) … obviously they live with a cold and dark heart and don’t know what it is to truly FEEL. Your writing is beautiful and I love the way I FELT as I read it.

  13. Your writing is a dream. I love every word and how they all blend together painting images of Divinity on the movie screen of my mind. This is your gift, sweet girl.

    XO, Brittney

  14. this is the first time in3 years that I write a comment in your blog, and its because you moved me to tears with your beautiful words and soul im so thankfull and happy that I found such a beautiful and magical place here on the internet. Thank you, for every post you wrote, and for all the reflexions they led me to. Thanks to you I learned a lot of things and keep on doing it. Im 18 and now after reading this I feel a little less lost in all the mess that is growing up. Greetings from Chile

  15. Nirrimi, you’re an real artist. I love your photos (and I miss them, really), but the way you’re writing is amazing. Do what you’re doing, and show us that little pieces of your life a little bit more often here. Every visit here is very positive experience for me. Kisses from Poland.

    A

  16. Nirrimi, you beautiful, delightful soul, I can feel you as I am going trough the same feelings. The end of your story is the key, our thoughts are our wings. Don´t cut them. Fly, beautiful soul. And Thank you. Thank you for putting the process into words. Sending love and light to you and your moonflower. From Europe, Laura

  17. Oh my, I’ve missed your writing so much. It inspires me so much, you are so wonderfully talented and your daughter is a lucky, lucky girl. Love from Canada.

  18. ” I feel everything and sometimes when I feel nothing I feel the most of all. I put myself together as I fall from old pieces of myself and new pieces I collect along the way. I see many different places as I fall and I breathe them in to become a part of me too. I am imperfect. I make one hundred mistakes and then one hundred more, and through them I grow.” This is so beautiful and true. A book of your words and images would surely be a treasure.
    Love to you and yours, Nirrimi, you wonderful woman.

  19. One day there should be a collection of these blog entries in a book! I would buy many many copies and give them to the people I adore as I would want them to read the magic that you write! You’ve been inspiring us for many years now beautiful Nirrimi! Sending all the love in the world to little Alba too!

  20. Just…waw! Thanks for sharing! You are so good in putting feelings in in to the words! Yes, i couldn’t agree more with Veronica…someday your words will make a book to treasure for generations!

  21. More than beautiful…
    N please keep writing and sharing these with us !
    They are not just beautiful , but also a lesson !
    I have many questions on my mind that i wish you could answer them all ! Just to see your amazing perspective , because your perspective is the way i wanna grow in and raise my future-children !
    Love you
    R

  22. You are a beautiful, honest and generous soul, your writing resonates with me always, but this especially. Such a gift, to so eloquently put into words something so intangible. Your gift to us, so beautiful and so gratefully received, by myself at least. Much happiness to you and your tribe Nirrimi

  23. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!
    I love your kind words and while I pictured your story i closed my eyes, what a wonderful interpretation – this would be a wonderful book. I wish I were good at drawing to get your way into adulthood on paper… but it’ll stay a long while in my heat, so thanks for that!
    Lot’s of love for you and Alba, best wishes from Germany
    Lisa

  24. This is the most beautiful, touching and inspiring piece of writing I have come across in a long while. God bless you! You transported me to a dreamy state where I could actually feel and imagine all that you wrote.

  25. This is beautiful and poetic and perfect. Thank you for taking the time to capture something so many people can relate to in such a touching, beautifully written post. This is just… Wow.

  26. Nirrimi,
    You would make an incredible author. I hope you do write a book so people all over the world can hold something like this piece and feel the power in the words every day. x

  27. Another message amongst many just as an appreciation to this post – At the moment, I am 18. I also have a crow but he has been with me since childhood, making his words more familiar and, I guess, a part of me. I hope to see the beauty in myself like I do in others yet I have not had a mother who has shown me this beauty, for she also struggles with her own crow. I can’t express to you how much my inner-child would have wanted a mother like you, however even though I have not had the best childhood, you have shown me that the best gift we can give is the childhood we never had, to one of our own. Sorry this is probably all over the place seeing as though it’s past midnight and I’m mentally exhausted, but I’m grateful that you take the time to share your thoughts on these topics, it beams light into other’s dark places.

  28. Dear Nirrimi,
    your words fill me with so much joy, and i will take them with me all along my way to adulthood.
    We have the same age, you and I. You have a beautiful and delightful baby girl. She will accompany you through all the pains and anguishes of this wonderful life, but mostly through all the joyful moments, all the crazy busy days when you feel her beside you and you can show her how surprisingly astonishing this world is. She will learn from you how to love and how to see beauty in people and to always remain curious (about nature, colors, sounds…), and this is the most important thing in our lives.
    I leave you with my favorite poem, The Sorrows of Love by W.B. Yeats:

    “The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
    The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
    And all that famous harmony of leaves,
    Had blotted out man’s image and his cry.

    A girl arose that had red mournful lips
    And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
    Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
    And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;

    Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
    A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
    And all that lamentation of the leaves,
    Could but compose man’s image and his cry.”

    ps. If you happen to travel to northern Italy, i would love to meet you and little Alba. Send you two thousands of hugs.

  29. Nirrimi, these words are just as beautiful as the first time I read them. I’ll say again, what I said before, It breaks my heart that you, even for a second, felt that you weren’t beautiful or special. It seems as though all the magic in the world stems right from the gardens of your soul Nirrimi. This world is lucky to have you in it. You are strong and kind and loving. And thank you always, for sharing these vivid, beautiful, and vulnerable pieces of your life.

  30. I read your words, they curl up around me and seep into my skin. The pictures you paint, the story that unfolds so organically, it is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your words with the world; it is not an easy thing to let yourself be raw. You are so appreciated.

  31. Nirrimi, this is beautiful. I’ve never posted a comment on your website before, but I was so touched and inspired and filled with love after reading this that I felt like the only thing to do was to extend love right back to you. I’m still a teenager and still falling and going through a particular period of transition, and your words have helped me immensely in understanding that it is possible (and necessary) to cherish the magic while embracing the fear, the darkness, the pain, the great unknown, the lessons to learn and the growth that comes hand in hand. Thank you so much for this, and for constantly being such a loving, kindhearted spirit – you truly are a bright light in this world and you have brought so much hope and magic to those affected by your work, I hope you will always remember that. I’ll etch your words deep into my heart as I fall. Please share more of your writing in the future!

  32. I truly wasn’t sure whether to post this on my blog, but seeing it bring goodness and relation to you guys has made me glad I did. Thank you all for the sweet comments, and for sparing a little of your lives to walk in my heart and mind.

  33. Oh, dear N.
    I know you have been feeling lost in the world as of late. Please remember your work, your words and your lovely heart will always matter. I shall always send you love filled thoughts of the best wishes, weather we talk often, or rarely.

  34. this is incredibly inspiring and beautiful. thank you for sharing your words. what a wonderful momma you must be. 🙂

  35. Your words touched me, all of them. You are very gracious, even with people who don’t deserve such polite answers (the image of the crow doesn’t belong to only one culture). Thank you for sharing x

  36. Been thinking about you Nirrimi & have missed your blogging. I hope you are alright! Take care you beautiful talented creature! The nice part about living young is that it is all still only beginning. There is so much left to unfold, and who knows what the coming days will bring. Lots of surprises, good ones I hope. x

  37. This is magically Nirrmi. You have been my inspiration since I was 14 and now, 4 years later, your words still bring my joy. I wish I was like you, you honestly are my dream. I am crying at how precious these words. I hope you have all the happiness in the world. And I hope someday I will able to be as amazing as you x

  38. Your words make me feel that I am just like you, but I know all the girls reading this will see themselves and love you for it. Thank you so much for the beauty and realness you have shared from your life story. It really is amazing to be able to read anothers feelings and thoughts. Thank you 🙂

  39. That is easily the most beautiful thing I’ve read in an age.
    Thank you for your beautiful words.

  40. So beautiful in all the right ways – made me cry a bit – but in the end it was happy tears.
    Don’t ever let go of you inner child with bright and open eyes, don’t ever stop beliving in magic <3

  41. Your words. Your art. Your transparency. Your raw, beautiful relationship with your daughter.. You have been an inspiration to me for years now. My (young) wife and I have a young 3 month old beautiful girl.. When we read through your words they inspire us strive for a closeness with our daughter that is felt in your images. With the fame that you have and chatter from mindless twits (whatthehey) that I’m sure flood your world I’m certain it can be difficult to realize just what a difference you are making. I remember studying your images years ago and feeling my soul longing to reach to new creative heights. You inspired my creativity then.. And now you inspire my person and my being and my fatherhood. Keep writing. Keep sharing. Keeping creating. You’re making a beautiful difference in this world.

  42. When can we expect the book?
    Nirrimi I don’t think the words have been made yet for how you inspire and caress many souls. You have a way with words that touch my heart. I almost crave for them and I hope this is one talent that you never have to feel is escaping you, for when you combine such words together you write a masterpiece. To which is only emphasised more when you choose to share your photos with the world. Thank you.

  43. I love this and if no one can relate to at least up to were you speak about Alba then they clearly have not lived…. but that is obvious when they have so much free time to read and comment on something that is clearly not their cup of tea.

  44. This is my all time favourite post of yours. So so beautiful and I can totally relate. I am falling right now, but I still have a few tufts of grass and dirt clenched between my sweaty palms. When I fall back to the ground I will plant them and harvest a garden to forever remind me that although my childhood may be past it is never lost. A part of it grows within me still.

  45. I’ve been a silent reader of your blog for a while (I especially liked Alba Joy’s birth story).

    I really admire you for your elegant response to the hater.

  46. You are so beautiful and inspiring. I’ve been reading your blog for years and have fallen in love with you and your little family; and I don’t think anyone has expressed how growing up feels (or perhaps how I feel about growing up) as perfectly as you have.

    This also brings to mind one of my favorite short stories ever, “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros. (You can read it online here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MeKLK-DrL680E2cJ_W6iSNSYSlpVDvIeYSg15OHRqoA/edit?hl=en_US) I think you would enjoy it.

    Thank you for being such a light in this world.

  47. @whatthehey When I was a teenager I naively, without any knowledge that it could offend (I grew up in Australia, where I was taught mostly Australian history) wore a friend’s headdress in a photograph. I didn’t know what I do now and I wouldn’t take the same images again.

    But in saying that, it was done without bad intention, with as much intention as wearing a flower crown or a hat, because I thought it was aesthetically beautiful. I am unsure what the African appropriation could even be. I don’t create in order to offend.

    If you don’t enjoy this writing, that is cool, I am sure it’s too ‘flowery’ for many. It was originally written as a story, not a blog post/journal entry. If you don’t ‘get’ anything from it, perhaps you should stop following along. 🙂

    PS. if you have to use an anonymous email to make a comment, perhaps you shouldn’t be making it.

  48. This is literally the most pretentious thing I have ever read. If it weren’t enough you were a *~dreamer/hippie/nature lover etc*~*~ who enjoys culturally appropriating Native American and African cultures, you’ve now added exaggerated, self-affected purple prose to your resume.

  49. Let Mother Earth hold you. Thank her for her generous gifts of beauty in all forms. You are always special and beautiful. We all are. The trick is to remember…

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