If I Could Meet Myself Then. I Mean Now. I Mean…
At a dear friend’s picnic birthday party, I met a new person. Except not. After being in the same place for a while, I noticed that he’s someone I used to see five days a week at the train station. I’ll call him… Zanzibar. We didn’t go to the same school and didn’t live in the same town, but still ended up on the same platform in rain, snow, wind, and heat, early in the mornings and later in the afternoons to come home, surrounded by suited, serious businessfolks. There was the weird guy who always wore murderer gloves of black leather. The blonde man who looked like he belonged in the 1940s. The lady who needlepointed. The man with the eye-patch. Then there was me and Zanzibar and his brother. We never spoke. That’s good, else I would have crumbled into a pile of embarassed girl-chips and caught fire by the heat of my blushing. But I noticed them. I was once introduced by a schoolmate to the older brother, said something that didn’t come out right, and went back to my huddled, poetry-writing isolation.
Now I’m thirty. Hooray! A solid decade with no teenth involved in it! And at a picnic I met this person that is still so vivid in my mind. I told him that I remember him and he agreed that I look so familiar, and thanked me for saying what the history is. I asked things like “Did you break your leg once?” to verify that he is who I think he is. He broke his foot, close enough. I remember him having to climb the three steep steps on to the train in that cast.
I got home later and realized why he was so clear in my memory: I had a wicked crush on him. For years. Thankfully, things do change. All this has made me wonder how insane I’d have thought mynowself to be if I’d gone back in time to tell myself this stuff. My life now and who I am now is such a far, far distance from who I was then. I don’t think I could have properly imagined being so relaxed around Zanzibar at a picnic in my 30th year, chasing my kids around, watching a rat swim across a stream, eating brownies and strawberries (in public!), and climbing “Da Biggest Tree in Da Whole WORLD!” as my friend’s daughter quite correctly stated. Life is such a river. It used to feel like a deep, ditry puddle.
On the days I still feel as confused as I was as a teenager, I want to come back to these thoughts and admit that yes, I am still struggling, growing, learning, and often muddled about how exactly to reconcile ideals with actions, decisions with setbacks, and hopes with reality, BUT I am still different. Life is so much more beautiful now, and so much of the darkness that surrounded me during some of my more difficult growing up years, have passed—or transformed—into a life that flows. Often it flows in circles—but at least there’s movement. I’m grateful.
I remember vividly, kinda, a conversation with a friend about ten years ago. One of us (here’s the unvivid part: which one of us said it?) wished to simply know if a certain flaky guy was The Guy so she could stick with it or move on. But for the purposes of this blog, I’ll say we wanted to know if everything (in general) was going to turn out okay, beacause that was the ultimate point. So my question now is: what would you like to go back and tell yourself? This is not to say your life now is perfect or that you have everything settled or are completely on track, but we all grow over the course of a decade or two. And this is also not to say that we don’t believe in making mistakes and learning from them, that screwing up can have value, that regrets are powerful, or that we shouldn’t regret anything because it’s all a part of growing. This is just a… side thought.
You wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, would you? Maybe you would. I’d have been happy for a simple “It’ll be okay, just shutup and enjoy yourself.” I wouldn’t have wanted to know all the details—though I did once pay a woman named Madonna ten bucks to read my palm and tell me I’d end up with a guy with light brown hair, which is totally inaccurate I’ll have you know and she didn’t even look at my palm. Pfft.
I thought of a few more because I like to make things up. Note: These are not (all) directed at myself:
“Get away from that girl, you’ll thank me later.”
“Quit your job and go backpacking.”
“Listen to your parents.”
“Don’t go to that party, trust me.”
“Trust your instincts.”
“You’re allergic to gluten. Step away from the bagels.”
“Get a dog.”
“He’s not your friend.”
“You need to swim in a lake.”
“Forget about being skinny.”
“Don’t smoke that.”
“Speak up for yourself.”
“Sleep on it.”
“Learn to meditate.”
“Follow your art.”
I could go on for ages, this is so fun. Can you tell I used to watch a lot of Quantum Leap?