Sometimes I look at myself, never in real time, only in photos and I see myself as a little girl. It is weird. Here I am, all grown up, a mother, a worker, a business owner, a home owner, a woman of some means, but in the still shots, the camera catches and illuminates this tiny girl that resides inside me still.
I see her looking for approval, still.
I see her looking to belong, still.
I see her wanting love, but being so scared to be hurt, still.
I see her reticence, still.
I see her defiance, still.
I see her moxie, still.
It is strange that I can be this old and still see myself as a girl. It isn’t every photo, but every once in awhile, there she is smiling back at me from the past. And I wonder how she got there...why is she not long gone? What is she doing in a photo of current time? Am I the only one who sees her?
Perhaps this is just a phenomenon of aging...perhaps everyone can see their former youth, their tiny person emerging from the past and inserting themselves into this present. I do not know, I don’t think I have ever thought to ask.
I have heard many people say that the older they get the more they see their father or mother...but I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone say that they see the child version of themselves capture and preserved in photographs...of the present day.
When I see myself, the younger version, I am kind of taken aback. It seems so out of place with my current life. This appearance of a child wearing my clothes, my hair, my style. It is as if suddenly I melt into the little girl I used to be, the clothes suddenly too big, and ill fitting. Of course, it is all just mental gymnastics, really. Nothing really changes, only my perception...which as we all know, in fact, changes everything.
She keeps appearing so I am not sure what this all means...what is she here to teach me, warn me of, what truth is her arrival a harbinger of?
I think sometimes she is just a reminder of my age, an almost cruel joke to elucidate my advancing age...but that doesn’t fit. In reality, it is the twinkle in her eye I see most often, a daring bravado that could barely be kept under wraps...until it was. Perhaps that is why she is here, to call me out and call me up, to brave another storm, with defiance and solidarity unto ourselves. Lord knows I could use the support right now. A lot has happened and is unfolding...mostly good, some quite bad.
I think it is no accident that I am seeing her more now...that petulant child who wanted the moon. Her insistence that it was hers to have and a drive, oh my, what a fucking drive to achieve her reward...the moon, or whatever else her heart desired.
I am still awed by her. Her appearance in my life right now, welcomed and interesting. Some version of myself I still need to make peace with, even though it feels like I have done this so many times at this point. So much work to forgive yourself, and others, most especially the ones who didn’t deserve the act of contrition...knowing all along that it is was a necessary passage for myself, way more than for the other person. Circumstances calling out to my becoming, demanding things from me that I really didn’t want to give...but always knowing that the work was never wasted...while the situation maybe never improved, I did.
It is a strange thing to be almost 54 and realizing that this child, this hungry, anxious, exuberant child lives on inside me evinced by her pleasant and pleading face in my more recent photographs...and I wonder, am the only one who sees her? Can you see her too? And does this disturb you? In all the ways it does me?
I feel the need to cover and hide her. To not let her be seen, almost embarrassing to call her out...to direct attention to her in this way. But she feels like she needs the recognition, all this time has passed and she remains, again, still...feels rude to not acknowledge her presence...and to finally learn what she is here to teach...
I will let you know, just as soon as I find out...I promise.