So I’m turning 28 on Thursday, and it made me think of the past. Sometimes, I feel like I’m a 65-year-old woman stuck in a 20-something’s body. Maybe all this introspection makes me feel old. Oddly enough, I’ve never felt more young. Well, that’s a lie. I think I felt the youngest a few years back. I’d say from 25-26. Everything seemed possible, but in a really frightening way. Now things are still possible, but I don’t feel like hyperventilating every time I think about the future.
Sometimes I wonder if it ever ends: this uncertainty, but I guess that’s the beauty of it all. Nothing is really certain. I know I’ve learned a lot in the past three years, and I can look back with rose-coloured glasses at everything that’s happened, but sometimes I wonder if I can ever really remember those moments, really capture them. They’re so skewed now, and everything that I thought was so ugly at the time, is now so beautiful, and everything that meant so much at the time, people that meant so much to me, they barely mean anything at all.
I think we all have this desire to go back in time and tell ourselves something, anything, that would help, but that’s not the way things are. I think the real beauty of it all, is in the not knowing, not knowing what’s going to happen next, and not really understanding what has come to pass.
Among the first we learn is good-bye,
your tiny wrist between Dad’s forefinger
and thumb forced to wave bye-bye to Mom,
whose hand sails brightly behind a windshield.
Then it’s done to make us follow:
in a crowded mall, a woman waves, “Bye,
we’re leaving,” and her son stands firm
sobbing, until at last he runs after her,
among shoppers drifting like sharks
who must drag their great hulks
underwater, even in sleep, or drown.
Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map–
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight. Our thoughts get laced
with strange aches, sweet as the final chord
that hangs in a guitar’s blond torso.
Think how a particular ridge of hills
from a summer of your childhood grows
in significance, or one hour of light–
late afternoon, say, when thick sun flings
the shadow of Virginia creeper vines
across the wall of a tiny, white room
where a girl makes love for the first time.
Its leaves tremble like small hands
against the screen while she weeps
in the arms of her bewildered lover.
She’s too young to see that as we gather
losses, we may also grow in love;
as in passion, the body shudders
and clutches what it must release.