Do you miss the person you used to be?

 

Recently a friend of mine posed a question in her Facebook status. Something akin to, "Do you miss the person you used to be?"

 

I answered in a split second with a resounding no. That person was sick and sad and angry. I laughed at my response. At the idea that anyone would miss their past self. At the nostalgia of it.

 

It's funny how certain questions can seem so easy and then unbeknownst to you, they burrow into the back of your brain and keep whispering. You hear the faint sound of the question in your dreams, in the bag that you place the food in for that customer in one of your last days at work, in the stranger's face on the subway, and while you're shaving your legs.

 

And today, home alone, while the rain is released from the sky in a constant steady stream. Windows open allowing the cold, damp air to blow through my apartment. The scent of nature permeating everything I touch. I think of the house I grew up in. The second floor with the balcony and the window that looked out onto a canopy of palm trees. The way they would twist and sway in a storm. Of the afternoon rainstorms in Florida. The way the cable would go out. Of how I moved up north to a place that was Florida but so unlike the Florida I knew. Less palm trees and more Magnolias. The cicadas song outside my window in the morning. The way that everything was always covered with dew.

 

To the man that I lost my virginity to. To the moment on the corner of my bed when he pushed my hair back and said that he was afraid that I would leave him. That I would always be moving onto the next adventure. A remark on how I was perpetually unsatisfied. To how I was constantly looking for something new. I look back now and see this as the beginning of the end. How that was his way of saying this wouldn't last forever. That our rhythms belonged to different songs. At the time I took it as a compliment. I was going to be somebody and that couldn't be denied. I was moving fast and I wasn't going to pull anyone along with me or look back. Now, I look on that scene and think how selfish I must have been. How unable to see the forest through the trees.

 

At the same time, I've realized that the answer to that question is more complicated. I miss driving to the beach with one leg up on my seat blasting Hilary Duff with the windows down. My unshakeable self confidence. The confidence that told me I was better than every other person auditioning for the role. The way that I would make decisions without thought and let the consequences roll out as they may. My inability to see into the future. My belief that I was untouchable. Unshakeable. Invincible. 

 

All of these things that can be attributed to the folly of youth. To the instability of finding your footing as you get older. Testing boundaries. Navigating situations for the first time. Exhausting but exciting.

 

And try as I might to forget those things, they're still there taking up space on the shelving in my brain. Every once in a while I dust one off and play it back. Each memory changing over time. Wholly dependent on who I am now. On what I ate for breakfast and where the sun is in the sky.

 

I'm at a place in my life right now that I realize is entirely temporary. Standing on a diving board that is perched not on the end of a swimming pool but in the midst of the ocean. The waves are lapping against my toes and over the past few months I've been dipping them in to see how warm the water is. In a couple of weeks, as I leave my job and see what it means to be an artist and just an artist I'll have no choice but to get off the diving board. Regardless if I leap or just take a steady walk off the plank, the result will be the same. 

 

The girl who I was. She's telling me not to walk but to run to gain speed and leap laughing into the sea. And that girl who I was is still the woman I am now. Maybe a little more wise. More empathetic. Funnier. Lighter. But still her.

 

 

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