Sometimes I ache for the person I will be five, 10, 15 years from now — a stranger.
And when I am her, what will become of the girl I am now?
The one cleaning her bedroom at two in the morning, cramming folded T-shirts into stuffed drawers knowing they’ll come out again wrinkled,
and whose left-hand fingers are coated in melted chocolate, recording each little thought in a notebook before it can melt away — panicking at the thought of others reading it.
This girl I know so well, getting out of bed in the dark to put on a dress because reading “Pride and Prejudice” in pajamas just doesn’t feel right.
Will she slip below the surface like the others?
I can count them inside me like the rings of a tree stump.
The 3-year-old running around in crooked green fairy wings, collecting a bouquet of dandelions for her mother,
the 5-year-old cutting off her braid because it got in the way of the yellow construction paper she was turning into a countdown chain,
the 7-year-old twirling to a Nora Jones song with a long purple scarf, tumbling when her foot got caught in the sheer fabric.
They are just as much strangers as that girl I have yet to become —
a photograph I saw in an album years ago, or a dream I forgot I had.
Or what about the ones who feel more like friends I haven’t talked to in too long?
The 12-year-old who looped thousands of hopscotch boxes around the entire block during the summertime,
the 13-year-old who wrote bad poetry and embarrassing time capsule letters to her future self,
the 15-year-old whose chest crushed with real panic for the first time, waiting to make a left turn across busy traffic.
I can’t remember all these girls well,
sometimes I loathe them — mostly I miss them.
The reminders of what I once was, and what I am now, that I can never be again.
But I know they are there,
the voices feeding me songs to sing,
melodies to dance to,
stories to tell.